HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Veterans in New Jersey are devastated after vandals desecrated a World War II museum and memorial.
Police are looking for whoever broke into the U.S.S. Ling submarine and flooded it, destroying priceless artifacts. The culprits also pried four bronze plaques off a memorial that stands in remembrance of 3,000 submariners who were killed in World War II.
"The memorial means everything to me," said Joseph Mongeli, 97.
Mongeli served on a submarine for three years during World War II. For decades, he’s fought to preserve the U.S.S. Ling.
"I was devastated. I couldn’t even go to sleep last night," Mongeli said.
The U.S.S. Ling sits off River Street in Hackensack and is apart of the New Jersey Naval Museum. The Ling used to be open to the public for tours, but it was forced to close two years ago when the pier extending out to the submarine crumbled.
The veterans who have worked to maintain the site have spent the past few days packing up all the artifacts they could salvage.
"Too many people in our society don’t care about veterans or the people ... who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country," said Jack Brown, a trustee with the Submarine Memorial Association.
Now, the veterans are looking for a location to set up a new museum. They are also hoping to rebuild the submariners' memorial with the bronze plaques.