War monument rededicated in St. Augustine | News

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War monument rededicated in St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A war monument was re-dedicated in St. Augustine Monday.

It is no longer overshadowed by electrical boxes.

From the free trolley rides for those going to the ceremony to memorial music with bagpipes, people from all over St. Augustine dedicated their services in order to rededicate a war monument.

"I come down here and touch it every now and then," Jan Rowley said as she brushed a finger over her uncle's name.

The monument bears his name, Warren Sigman, who was a WWII navy fighter pilot.

"He was leading the strike mission in Japan. They had three targets and he was shot down after the first target," Rowley said. He was only 11 years older than she was, so he was more like a big brother to her.

However, Sigman's and other St. Augustine residents' names who died in WWII, Vietnam, and Korea were overshadowed for years. While their names were on the monument, electrical boxes were placed right next to the monument in the plaza.

So this year, the community rallied to move the monument. The Pilot Club and Military Officers Association led the charge

Col Rick Erkelens of the Military Officers Association said he and Kay Burtin of the Pilot Club "would go down to city hall and city meetings and bring it up."

Eventually, contractors such as John Valdes donated their services to move and rebuild the monument.

"Seldom have I been involved in a project that carries as much weight for me as this did," Valdes said.

Now came time for the monument's rededication, about 30 feet from its original location, in a much more visible location in the St. Augustine Plaza.

WWII Veteran Mario Patruno, 93, loved it! "Good spot," he said. As for the ceremony, "I wouldn't miss it for the world! Wonderful!"

And Rowley is pleased. Her uncle is now rightfully honored in a new place.

She said, "I think it's wonderful because it will live and hopefully there will not be any more obstructions to it."


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