SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A vandal in San Jose has defaced a memorial dedicated to honor local fallen heroes of the Vietnam War. The “Sons of San Jose” memorial is located on West Santa Clara Street, near the SAP Center.
Whoever defaced the memorial used some sort of paint, that's etched into the black granite. It will likely cost thousands of dollars to restore it back to its original state.
Mike Salas served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He’s part of the San Jose War Memorial Foundation, which helped erect the monument.
“These are sacred grounds,” said Salas. “This is where people come to have closure and it should be left alone.”
Salas rushed over Sunday morning as soon as he heard a vandal tagged the front panel sometime overnight Saturday.
“If they only understood the cost of freedom and the cost of courage that these men died for so they can be out here, they wouldn't touch it,” said Salas.
Dennis Fernandez is the foundation's president. He also served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army. He said, the memorial was erected in 2013 to recognize 142 servicemen from San Jose. It cost almost half a million dollars from in-kind donations.
“I’m hurt both for all the work that's been put into it and for not respecting those people that are on that wall and their families who are still here. It's a slap in the face,” said Fernandez.
The vandalism comes as the country is in mourning over the passing of Senator John McCain, a celebrated Vietnam War hero.
“I don't think there's any correlation between the two,” said Fernandez. “I just think it's some gang bangers. They knew that was facing the street. My guess is that they don't even know there was a Vietnam War. “
Eight of the fallen were classmates of Salas's and Fernandez’s at San Jose High School. The foundation hopes to have it repaired by Veteran’s Day.
“When I look at this, I’m representing the names,” said Salas. “I get angry inside. It hurts.”
Two years ago, a vandal slapped red paint on the memorial costing $3,000 to fix it. Anyone who wants to help donate can contact the foundation at sjwarmemorial.com.