Bronze stars stolen from veterans' graves replaced - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Bronze stars stolen from veterans' graves replaced

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When hundreds of bronze star markers were stolen from veterans graves in Isanti County, one metro businessmen said the despicable crime made him sick -- and he put his money where his mouth is to right the wrong.

Thanks to a generous donation and a lot of helpful volunteers, veterans are once again getting the honors they deserve -- and the community's spirit is revived.

Boy and girl scouts set out to restore what was stolen from sacred ground after thieves took more than 200 bronze star markers.

"I think it's pretty despicable to steal from vets that serve our country," said Trent Koukol, scout leader.

The loss of the stars brought widows to tears when they found the stars had been stolen shortly before Memorial Day.

"It was pretty heart-sickening to come out and to see the stars were gone," said Kathy Hoffarth.

The VFW couldn't afford to replace the bronze stars, but when the word got out, founder and CEO of Snap Fitness made a $7,000 donation.

"I thought, 'You know what? Maybe I can help them,'" said Peter Taunton. "I just happened to be the first one to pick up the phone and call."

The VFW said that without Taunton's donation, it could have taken them up to a year to save up for all of the stars.

"Kudos to him -- nice to see someone so moved ," said Tom Aleckson, a VFW volunteer.

Once the stars arrived, it didn't take long to rally the troops of volunteers to put the stars back where they belonged in the three cemeteries that were stuck.

Isanti County sheriff's investigators said they think the crooks wanted to sell the markers for scrap. So far, they have not been found -- but police have not stopped looking.

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