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July 17. 2012 11:06PM

Money needed to rebuild Navy SEAL war memorial in Exeter


Natalie Healy talks about the significance of a war memorial outside the Exeter Recreation Center with Ronnie Richard, 11, on Tuesday. (JASON SCHREIBER/Union Leader Correspondent)

EXETER - Donations to repair a Navy SEAL war memorial vandalized last week have reached $1,000 as police continue to investigate the crime that left many outraged. Natalie Healy said she's been overwhelmed by the support she's received since discovering that vandals had shattered a porcelain picture of her son on a granite memorial sometime on July 9. The incident occurred just a couple of weeks after the picture of Exeter Navy SEAL Daniel Healy was replaced following a similar act of vandalism by two 9-year-old boys in May.

“We greatly appreciate all the time and effort people have taken to see that this is rectified. To see that they're sending money to get it repaired is very humbling and gratifying,” Healy said.

The memorial was erected outside the Exeter Recreation Center in honor of Healy, 36, and 10 other SEALs killed in Afghanistan in 2005. Healy's helicopter was shot down while trying to rescue four SEALs after they were attacked. Healy and the seven other SEALs and eight 160th Nightstalkers on the helicopter were killed, along with three of the SEALs they hoped to rescue.

Healy said she's considering replacing the porcelain picture with one made of bronze because it would be harder to destroy. The Healy family is still researching the cost of making and installing the bronze picture.

Healy said she's received donations and support from people in New Hampshire and other states who heard about the vandalism and wanted to help.

Many of the children who use the recreation center in the summer months and see the memorial every day have also been affected by the vandalism.

“The kids are so upset that that happened. So many kids are learning a lesson. It's just bringing home so many positive things from that,” Healy said. “When I saw the looks on their faces when they saw the destruction, I knew that not all kids are disrespectful.”

Sophie Richard, 9, of Exeter, and her brother, Ronnie, 11, plan to hold a lemonade stand to raise money.

“I felt bad for Mrs. Healy because that was her son,” Sophie said Tuesday when she and her brother stopped by the memorial with their mother and chatted with Healy, who dropped off a pot of geraniums to mark her son's birthday.

Anyone who would like to contribute to the repair can make donations to the Dan Healy Memorial Fund, c/o Citizens Bank, 38 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham, N.H., 03885.

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Jason Schreiber may be reached at jschreiber@newstote.com.


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