Volunteers restore vandalized memorial for fallen soldier



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Posted on August 15, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 15 at 7:00 PM

RAINIER, Wash. -- Sgt. Justin Norton's mother feels like she got a piece of her son back Thursday.

"It brings Justin back to life," said Norton's mother, Chris Warnock, as she watched volunteers paint a memorial on the side of Highway 507 in Rainier.

A roadside bomb in Iraq killed the Rainier High School graduate in 2006. A memorial site went up to honor him.

One year ago, someone vandalized the original memorial in what may have been a high school homecoming prank. Police investigated, but no one has been arrested.

"That was like a punch in the gut," said Warnock.

Students from Tenino High School, who had nothing to do with the vandalism, are giving up their summer break to recreate the memorial for a man they never knew who went to their rival school.

"It's really bad we get blamed for it," said one volunteer. "I just want us to help each other out. We're just one big happy family."

Norton's parents paid for the supplies. Norton's mother hopes this memorial will last, so others who never knew him at least have a chance to see him.

"I think it's amazing," said Warnock. "It's great to see his face come back to life."