Those who visit Veterans Park will now see a much better looking Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The helicopter has been repainted and the vandalized marker has been refurbished as well to the point in which the disgraceful vandalism that once covered the names of those from Porterville who died in Vietnam is now virtually undetectable.

The city is still in the process of replacing the marker with a new one. For now, that’s been done is leading up to a dedication of the helicopter tentatively set for Saturday, November 9.

City of Porterville Parks and Leisure Services Director Donnie Moore said City Public Works Director Mike Knight deserves the credit for leading the effort to refurbish the marker. New letters of the names of those from Porterville who died in Vietnam have been painted on the marker.

“They just wanted to make the monument look as nice as possible,” said Moore about refurbishing the memorial for the upcoming dedication.

Moore said it should be at least 10 weeks before a new marker can be placed at the memorial. Buzz Stephen of Porterville Monument Works is charging the city an extremely reasonable price for the new marker of just $2,133.99, including the letters for the names. “That was very nice,” Moore said. “That’s what everyone says.”

Porterville Police arrested a 15-year-old, stating the teenager was responsible for vandalizing the marker. 

Since the arrest has been made, Moore said the city is working on restitution for the cost of the marker.

“We’re in the process, definitely,” he said. “That restitution process has begun.”

Moore said for now the new marker will be paid for from funds the city has for one-time purchases. He did say individuals have come forward to the city and American Legion Post 20, which helps maintain the memorial, offering donations for the new marker. Moore said some kind of fundraising effort in which individuals could donate to the new marker in the future is possible.

Moore also said the new marker will be covered with a coating, which will make it much easier to remove markings from it if it’s ever vandalized.

The Porterville Police Department has led the effort for the repainting of two landmarks in the city, an A4 Skyhawk at the Porterville Municipal Airport and the helicopter at Veterans Park. Porterville Police hosted a recent dedication for the A4 Skyhawk at the airport in honor of Vietnam veteran Everett Alvarez, who flew the jet, and spent 8 ½ years as a prisoner of war.

Porterville Police will also host a dedication for the helicopter tentatively set for November 9.

Porterville Police Sgt. said the department researched how the jet at the airport and the helicopter at Veterans Park could be repainted, which led it to Lemoore Naval Air Station. “They were very, very quick to come through,” Carrillo said.

Personnel from Lemoore Naval Air Station repainted the jet at the airport and the helicopter at Veterans Park, with the paint and equipment for the projects facilitated by Porterville Police. “We think that was absolutely awesome,” said Carrillo about the willingness of Lemoore Naval Air Station to help out.

The helicopter at Veterans Park looked somewhat in disrepair but now looks much better thanks to the work of city staff and Lemoore Naval Air Station personnel.

Allen Pundt of American Legion Post 20 said the organization is obviously thankful for all the work that has been done.

“They did a great job,” said Pundt about everybody who’s worked on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. “It looks very nice.”

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