For many in Howard Beach, the namesake of Charles Park is a mystery. But for those who know who Frank Charles was, his is a story every neighborhood resident should know.
That’s why several years ago, the American Legion Post #1404, based in Broad Channel but including a number of Howard Beach residents as members, sought to construct a memorial sign telling the story of Charles, the first resident of Howard Beach to die in action at war.
In May, five years, one hurricane and over $5,000 later, they unveiled a sign on the east side of the park facing Hawtree Creek where Charles lived, only to find last weekend that it had been damaged.
“It’s terrible,” said Ed Murray, past commander of American Legion Post #1404. “There’s no respect.”
A hole blew open in the Plexiglas panel protecting the sign and a large dent mars the back of the sign.
“I think it was a firecracker, an M-80 probably,” said Ray York, another past commander of the troop. “Some kids, probably on the Fourth of July. They must have taped it on the glass and lit it.”
Initially, some residents, including Dorothy McCloskey, president of Friends of Charles Park, thought it was a bullet, but no fragments were found, nor did it penetrate through the steel skin.
“If it was a bullet, it would have gone right through,” York said.
Murray pointed to red powder on the bottom of the sign inside the glass as a sign that a firecracker was the likely culprit.