Sheboygan Police search for suspects who vandalized the Hmong Veterans Memorial

NOW: Sheboygan Police search for suspects who vandalized the Hmong Veterans Memorial

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Sheboygan memorial to Hmong veterans was vandalized over the holiday weekend.

The installation is a tribute to what's called 'The Secret War', when Hmong and Lao soldiers fought alongside Americans during Vietnam.

Three of the panels with laser-printed portraits of veterans to be honored were burned.

Vue Yang, the chairman of the memorial, cleaned the vandalism to the point where it's not as noticeable, but at certain angles it's apparent the faces of the portraits are damaged.

Two of the panels had just been put in on Memorial Day, at the cost of $1,900 each.

"That hurt pretty deeply," Yang said.

Yang isn't a veteran, but his appreciation for their sacrifice led him to want to create the memorial.

"This is important because it was a secret war, nobody knew about it," he said. "But it's been 40 years and it has to be told."

There are 5,000 Hmongs in Sheboygan. Some of them stopped by Monday to inspect the damage, including a couple veterans.

"It's just a disgrace and it's sad," Shua Yang, who served 23 years in the U.S. Army, said."My reaction is, 'Why?'"

A sign clearly labeling the structure as a war memorial was added after a graffiti incident, to make it clear that it's a memorial like any other that might be found in Washington D.C. or beyond.

"These soldiers fought alongside our soldiers for the very same reasons, and I think this memorial is very important," Jo Bjorkman of Sheboygan said. "I want the Hmong community to know how much we appreciate them."

She says she was disgusted to find out about the vandalism.

Sheboygan police are investigating.

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