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Petalumans begin process of replacing plaque honoring Vietnam vets

It was 1969. Ed Hergert was one of several young Petalumans to watch schoolmates go off to war in Vietnam and never come home.

"We just felt like we needed to do something," he said.

That turned into a kitchen table discussion among several youths, including many next on the draft list, about how to honor their friends. Ultimately, they raised money and convinced the city to allow the installation of a bronze Vietnam veterans memorial plaque in Walnut Park.

The cast by the late artist Rosa Estebanez stood on its pedestal from May 30, 1969, until it was stolen sometime around Christmas, ostensibly for its scrap metal value.

The act sickened many veterans, their supporters and families of the 15 soldiers whose names were memorialized on it. Donations and pledges amounting to about $11,000 have come in to the Petaluma Museum, which is spearheading a replacement plan.

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