Five graves of World War II Diggers damaged by vandals at the Nowra War Cemetery have been removed.
The damage to five of the 35 marble headstones was discovered on Monday, September 12.
The headstones that commemorate World War II Diggers were pulled from the ground and smashed, with the fragile marble in may cases suffering substantial damage.
Personnel from the Commonwealth War Graves were in Nowra on Tuesday morning, inspecting the damage and removed the five headstones.
It is understood the headstones, where possible will be repaired and be replaced on a temporary basis until new headstones become available.
Well-known local veteran Rick Meehan, who along with his 33-year-old son Luke have maintained the war graves for the Commonwealth War Graves for the past five years, is still shattered and dumbfounded by the blatant vandalism.
"We cleaned the area last Tuesday," said Mr Meehan who is also chairman of the Keith Payne VC Veterans Benefit Group. Everything was fine.
"I can't understand why someone would want to do this."
South Coast Police are investigating the vandalism and are appealing for witnesses.
Officer in charge of Nowra Police Station Inspector Ray Stynes described the vandalism as "despicable".
"It is an out and out show of disrespect to the war veterans that are laid in that area," he said.
"It's just unfathomable.
"This is just outright disrespect, They [the offenders] obviously don't understand what these people gave up for us to be able to live the way we do today."
It is believed the vandalism occurred between Wednesday, September 11 and Monday, September 16.
Police inquiries are continuing and anyone with any information is urged to contact Nowra Police on 4421 9699 or or Crime Stoppers. on 1800 333 000.
Shoalhaven City Council will investigate the installation of CCTV and security systems at the Nowra War Cemetery following the incident.
Director of assets and works Paul Keech was deeply dismayed at the news of the destruction, saying the "senseless destruction and disrespect was a sad reflection on the values of those who have committed the acts."
"This act is devastating for the families of the servicemen, the members of the RSL Sub-Branch who care for the area and the Nowra community in general."
A visibly upset Mr Meehan said he was left "shaking" when he initially saw the damage.
I can't understand why someone would want to do this. I'm disgusted, shattered, gutted that this can happen in our society today. I'm just shocked.Shoalhaven veteran Rick Meehan
"This is just shattering," said Mr Meehan "why would anyone want to do this? What do they get out of it?"
"I've been looking after this area for about five years, looking after these Diggers who stay here and why someone would want to vandalise it, destroy what they [the veterans] have done for their country is beyond me.
"There is no rhyme or reason. I'm disgusted, shattered, gutted that this can happen in our society today. I'm just shocked."
It is the second time in three years the cemetery, which is part of the Nowra General Cemetery, has fallen victim to senseless vandalism.
In August 2016 Swastikas were drawn onto the backs of nine headstones, while more were drawn on a gateway pillar leading into the Naval Cemetery.
All 35 personnel in the Nowra War Cemetery were killed during World War II.
"There are sailors, soldiers and airmen," Mr Meehan said.
"All three services are represented. A number died during training exercises of one sort or another out of Nowra and Albatross."
Their deaths span from 1941 to 1947. They age from 19 through to 35-years of age.
Minister shocked by disgraceful act
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the desecration of any memorial or gravesite is a disgraceful act.
"But it is particularly disappointing to see the official commemorations for those who have served and died for our nation defaced in this manner," he said.
"The Australian Government, through the Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG), is responsible for the care and maintenance of the official commemorations of over 13,000 Australian servicemen and servicewomen who died during periods of war and over 300,000 official commemorations for those whose post-war deaths were linked to their service.
"The OAWG staff will be working to ensure the vandalised headstones are repaired as a priority.
"There will be no costs to the families of the servicemen affected."
He also encourage anyone with any information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.
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