In Feb. 23 issue, Russell County News
By Derek Aaron
Russell County News EditorEd Rogers with the Russell County American Legion inspected the damage to the Doughboy statue where it is stored in the Jamestown Fire Department.
It took only a few seconds Wednesday night for the iconic Jamestown "Doughboy" to be brought down by an alleged drunk driver's truck. Mayor Brooks Bates said the fallout from the devastation has hit home hard.
"Everyone I've talked to is asking me about it," he said.
Jamestown Police Chief Mike Keaton said the accident report has yet to be completed because the police haven't yet been in contact with the monument's overseer, but will occur in the coming days.
"We have to find out the exact cost of the "Doughboy," plus any other damage done to the monument or square and include that in the accident report also," Keaton said.
Bates said one of the monument's arms was severed at the wrist while the other was broken off at the elbow.
"The base (of the monument) was shattered and its ankles were cracked," he said.
The monument, which was knocked of its pedestal, had its rifle broken as well, according to Bates.
The flagpole behind the monument was also damaged by the truck approximately three to four feet from its base.
Jamestown native Debbie Harris, the vice president of the Bank of Jamestown, said she was stunned into silence upon hearing about the "Doughboy's" demise.
"I think it is horrible," she said. "It's just something that's always been here … it is part of Jamestown."
Harris, who said the monument was irreplaceable, said she had heard scuttlebutt that it would be difficult to repair it.
"It was just like losing a part of your family," she said.
Jeff Reeder, commander of American Legion Post #133 in Russell County, said the Legion was saddened upon hearing about the situation at the monument.
"It was a great thing to see the monument in town, showing respect for our fallen heroes," he said.
"(The Legion's) goal is to meet with Jamestown and county officials to see what avenues we can take to repair or replace it," Reeder said. He said the American Legion would work with the city and county leaders to make the "Doughboy" presentable again. Mayor Brooks Bates confirmed a meeting would be taking place between all parties with an interest in the monument in the near future.
"That monument was what people noticed first in town," Reeder said. "It is a void not being there because we're so used to seeing it."
Ed Rogers, who said he is "the oldest continuous living member" of the county's American Legion, said he believes the monument could fixed and should be fixed despite being damaged "very extensively."
"It's too valuable not to fix it," he said. Rogers noted there were only around 150 of this type of monument still in existence.
"If we can find somebody to do the repair work on it, we should do it," Rogers said.
Rogers, who has tried to lead a renovation of the monument since 1993, said that Sgt. Alvin York, a World War I hero who was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest in France, was present at the 1937 dedication. Mayor Brooks Bates also confirmed this interesting information to the Russell County News.
Regina Hinton, a loan officer at the Bank of Jamestown, said at first she didn't notice that the "Doughboy" was missing on Wednesday morning when she came to work.
"I didn't notice it until I got into work this morning and someone told me about it," she said.
"The Doughboy was something you took for granted because you were so used to seeing it there," Hinton said. "To look out and not see it is sad."
She said that during summer months she sees many people taking pictures with the monument from the bank.
Joyce Pierce and Doris Leveridge, deputy clerks at the courthouse, both said the monument was part of the town.
"It has been here almost as long as I've been alive," Leveridge said. "It's something that's always been part of my life."
"All of us that live in Jamestown have, at one point, had our picture taken with the Doughboy," she said.
Pierce said she wouldn't have ever imagined Jamestown without the monument before Wednesday morning.
Both agreed it was something to be proud of and that it represented the county's fallen soldiers from both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam.
The monument, dedicated in 1937, has a place in the hearts and minds of the community's young people as well.
Russell County High School senior Leah Kerr said the monument's destruction proved to be a sad day for Jamestown.
"It has been around a long time and even though I'm young and don't remember it back when it was built I still know that it is really important (to Jamestown)," she said.
Kerr said people should honor it because of its age and that it should be repaired if it all possible.
"When you think of Jamestown, you think of the "Doughboy,"" she said. "It's the heart of Jamestown."