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Effort under way to restore marred World War I monument in Kingman

By Pam Ashley pashley@havasunews.comFebruary 27, 2019

This June marks the 101st anniversary of the mostly forgotten World War I Battle of Belleau Wood in northern France. Marines recall the grim three-week fight with ceremonial remembrances in the states and overseas.

Closer to home, the Battle of Belleau Wood hopefully will be remembered with the rededication of a monument in downtown Kingman. The sculpture at the Mohave County courthouse was originally dedicated in 1928 to honor the memory of those who participated in “the war to end all wars.”

“We’re hoping to raise $20,000 to repair the monument. So far, we’ve raised about $5,000,” said Bob Wallace, one of the organizers of the fundraising project. “If the remaining funds can be raised quickly, we plan to complete the work and have a rededication ceremony in June. If things go slower, as a fall back, we would rededicate the monument on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.”

Repairs are necessary and long overdue because the Kingman monument has had a very rough life.

When the bronze and pressed copper sculpture was installed in 1928, it was reportedly a great source of pride for Kingman residents. Designed by E. M. Viquesney, it depicts a life-sized figure of a U.S. Army doughboy holding a 1903 Springfield rifle in one hand and a grenade in the other. A Navy sailor is the other full-sized figure.

A Colt model machine gun, nicknamed the “Potato Digger,” stood between the two soldiers. It was stolen from the monument in the late 1990s. The gun was never recovered. In addition to vandalism, the years have taken their toll on the monument.

Wallace said alkali and silica deposits have collected on the lower portions of the sculpture due to overspray from landscape sprinklers.

Because of the monument’s sorry condition, a group of Maine Corps veterans are leading the charge to restore it.

Wallace is the director of the Arizona Military Order of Devil Dogs Charities, which is affiliated with the Marine Corps Leagues in Arizona.

The nonprofit is collecting donated funds for the Kingman project and will oversee the restoration. The plan includes returning the monument to its original condition, replace the machine gun, add lighting and improve surrounding landscaping. Surveillance equipment rounds out the wish list.

To participate in the project, send tax deductible donations to Az MODD Charities, 4435 N. Stardust Road, Kingman AZ 86409, contact Wallace at 928-237-9358 or email him at wallacerm@cox.net.

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