BRISTOW, Okla. — The quartermaster at the Wake Island Memorial has spent the last few weeks looking to make improvements. He was caught by surprise when wind and rain picked up at the facility on Tuesday.
"We're still kind of tallying all the damage. We know there's roof damage, we know there's water damage, we've had electrical damage, an air conditioning unit got knocked out. Physical/structural damage to the things on site we're looking to see what's working and what's not working," Daniel Harris said.
Harris said only a handful of the veterans in town have been able to help, but that didn't stop a few from arriving on site before severe weather even began.
"We're still working on a short skeleton crew if you will. Of all able-bodied veterans in this area it's basically myself and three others who are able to come out here and do anything. A lot of them are Vietnam-era veterans, and we have two World War II veterans who help out here every now and then," he said.
In total Harris estimates about $100,000 in damage, but said that won't stop his team from moving forward.
"I was very astonished at their patriotism and their love for this memorial. This memorial has a lot of visitors from across the nation," commander Delbert Jackson said.
For Jackson, the facility is a second home. That's why Harris said they'll continue with their mission of making improvements.
"We've been trying so hard, trying to restore this site and here comes Mother Nature just saying "eh we're going to mess it up a little bit." That really is just my first reaction is to try and protect this site," he said.
The VFW is looking for extra help. If you're interested in donating or assisting in cleanup you can visit their Wake Island Memorial Facebook page.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.