Plans have been etched out for replacing the stolen Vietnam veterans plaque in Walnut Park, but they won't be set in stone until they get the approval of the Recreation, Music and Parks Commission.

A group of Petaluma veterans, service groups and others met at Walnut Park on Jan. 24 to firm up a proposal for a new plaque honoring fallen Vietnam soldiers that will replace the one that was stolen around Christmas time.

The group would like to keep the original design of the plaque intact as much as possible, said Joe Noriel, president of the Petaluma Historical Museum, which hosted an exhibit in 2010 featuring the Vietnam War in collaboration with local veterans.

That means keeping the stone base that still stands by the gazebo in the middle of the park and adhering to the basic design of the original bronze plaque, which was crafted decades ago by celebrated local artist Rosa Estebanez.

That plaque held the names of 15 Petalumans who lost their lives fighting in the Vietnam War. Before the plaque goes back up, Noriel said, the group will do an exhaustive search to see if any more names should be added.

The group proposes securing the new, bronze plaque in place with a piece of granite, which should help ensure that the plaque won't be stolen for the value of its metal, as its presumed the original was.

The monument will likely be flanked by two flags.

It appears the group that formed to replace the plaque will stay together for the long term, Noriel said. The group will take on the mission of installing additional monuments to veterans of other wars in the park.

"It's really turning into a tribute for all the folks who served," Noriel said.

The plans are expected to come before the Recreation, Music and Parks Commission in late February.

(Contact Jamie Hansen at

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