Just a month after moving a retired military airplane to Wayne County Veterans Memorial Park to be viewed by local residents and visitors, vandalism has prompted its caretakers to add a fence to protect it.

On May 10, veterans discovered that a small door on the Grumman A-6E Intruder had been pried open.

“Fortunately it didn’t break off, but they bent it a little,” said volunteer Barb Goebel, who has helped expand the park’s collection of monuments and military equipment with her husband, Joe, who is president of the veterans’ committee.

Veterans were able to get the door shut in hopes of preventing further damage while they decide what might be needed to better protect the historic equipment.

“We don’t know what they’re going to do next – that’s the problem,” Goebel said of the vandal(s).

Goebel said a group of veterans met last week to discuss the possibility of adding a fence around the plane, even though they don’t want to have to put one there.

“It’s going to have to be a tall one to keep them out,” Goebel said, uncertain about the cost of such a high structure in the park, which is one of the properties maintained by Richmond Parks and Recreation.

They began seeking bids last week for a fence, and the committee is to meet May 19 to discuss its findings.

“We’re definitely going to have to put up a fence,” Goebel said. “We can’t have it damaged.”

A couple days before the incident with the bent door, Goebel said she’d received a call that some young people were trying to climb on the plane. Signs have been placed there indicating no one should climb on the plane, and the veterans are not responsible for any injuries.

After all their hard work and expense to get the plane into the park, veterans want to protect the Intruder.

Factoring in some pandemic slowdowns and labor shortages, it took a couple years of resolving logistical issues to get the plane moved from Richmond Municipal Airport to the park, which is just west of the city’s downtown area.

As the sun rose on the morning of April 10, the plane made its nearly three-hour journey from the airport to its resting place on a concrete pad, drawing residents to gather along the route to pay tribute to the plane and those who had flown it through the years. It flew combat missions in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm.

The Intruder’s trip was carefully choreographed and orchestrated with the help of local law enforcement, who closed streets. The plane had to travel the wrong way on some one-way streets to safely get to the park.  A crane was needed to open the plane’s wings after it was situated on the pad.

>> How to help buy a fence

Wayne County Veterans Memorial Park is seeking donations to help purchase a fence to protect the Grumman A-6E Intruder plane that was vandalized last week after it was moved to the park about a month ago.

Donations can be sent in care of Wayne County Veterans Memorial Park at P.O. Box 2401, Richmond, IN 47375. The park is just north of the first block of East Main Street in Richmond.

Donors also can purchase a memorial brick, granite memorial plaque or memorial bench to honor or remember a veteran.  Order forms for bricks can be found at veteransmemorialpark.org. Standard bricks are $60; those with a medial insignia are $70 and those sponsored by a business are $80. Prices are subject to change.

For more information, call 765-967-0330 or email siranvill@gmail.com.




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