Vandals burn flag at bridge memorial

Vandalism to a memorial on the Dubuque Street (Bank Street) bridge has American Legion Post 191 dismayed and frustrated.

The flag on the memorial honoring Sgt. James E. Wedding, the first Hamilton County casualty of World War I, was destroyed recently, according to Legion Sergeant at Arms Mike Whipple. Whipple, who tends to Webster City’s three bridge memorials, said the flag had been set on fire.

“And they must have doused it with something, because the whole flag was destroyed,” said Whipple. He offered that theory as a previous attempt to burn the small flag wasn’t successful.

Whipple and Vice Commander Dale Caquelin said the Dubuque Street bridge memorial has been targeted on several occasions.

“The flags have been pulled out, taken, thrown in the river and now burned,” Caquelin said. Whipple said he’s unsure how many times he has replaced the flags on the bridge, but now has begun to keep track. The charred remnants of the burnt flag and soot are still visible on the plaque.

The plaque on the Des Moines Street bridge honoring Coxwain Marshall Crippen, Hamilton County’s first casualty in World War II, and the memorial to Corpsman Steven Sears, the first Hamilton County resident killed in the Vietnam War, located on Second Street bridge, have not been vandalized, according to the legionnaires. Caquelin suggested that more traffic along Second and Des Moines Streets might be why.

“The Bank Street bridge – there’s not a lot of houses along there for quite a stretch. It’s a little more secluded,” Caquelin said.

“It really is a shame that anyone would do something like this to the memorials honoring these men,” he said.

Whipple said the Webster City Police Department had been contacted about the incidents. He urged anyone witnessing any vandalism to any of the bridge memorials to contact the police, 832-9166.