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RIVERSIDE, CA – A California memorial to the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in an ISIS-K suicide bombing last month in Kabul, Afghanistan was found vandalized by unknown individuals, according to authorities.
The memorial, which consisted of 13 American flags – one for each of the lost service members – and a Marine Corps flag, had been hung on a freeway bridge in Riverside, but on Labor Day police discovered that it had been destroyed by suspects who had torn some of the flags and cut entire sections out of others.
Riverside Police announced on Tuesday via their Facebook page that they would be conducting an investigation and asked the community for assistance in tracking down the perpetrators.
“Recently after the deaths of our 13 United States Service Members killed in Afghanistan, 13 American Flags and 1 Marine Corp flag were placed on the fence to the Ivy Street overpass to the 91 Freeway in Riverside as a memorial. Sometime yesterday, an observant citizen noticed the flags appeared to be damaged and it was reported to the police,” the Facebook post read. “At this point, we don’t have any suspect description but it’s obvious the flags were intentionally damaged. If you have any information as to who vandalized these flags placed on this freeway overpass to honor the 13 Fallen Service Members, please contact our Property Crimes Unit at (951) 353-7955.”
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Riverside PD noted that the flags had been carefully removed from the memorial and would be turned over to a local Boy Scout troop for “proper retirement.”
Among the U.S. service members that were being honored by the memorial, three were Southern California Marines; Kareem Nikoui, 20, Dylan Merola, 20, and Hunter Lopez, 22. The remaining service members who lost their lives due to a terrorist bombing during the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan were from other parts of the country.