Oregon State Police and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is seeking the public's help in identifying the suspect(s) involved in the theft of a valuable bronze plaque that was in tribute to Rex T. Barber at the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint.
The plaque was placed at the viewpoint after the Oregon Legislature renamed the new bridge over the Crooked River on U.S. Highway 97 the "Rex T. Barber Veteran's Memorial Bridge."
On April 6, Oregon State Parks notified Oregon State Police of the bronze plaque theft after discovering it missing Thursday afternoon.
The estimated 3-foot-by-3-foot bronze plaque was glued and mortared to a large rock located between two information displays near the viewpoint's parking lot and appears to have been chiseled from its mounted location.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department estimates the bronze plaque's value at approximately $1,800.
Rex T. Barber was born in Culver, and was a World War II fighter pilot. During a distinguished military career, Barber was credited with shooting down the bomber carrying Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander in chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy and leader of the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Barber died at his Central Oregon home in 2001 at the age of 84.
Barber's son, Rex Jr., was notified of the theft by State Parks personnel who indicated that "he was obviously disappointed and saddened by the acts of the person(s) responsible."
On April 18, 2003, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski proclaimed that day as "Rex T. Barber Day." The new bridge, plaque, and information displays honoring Rex T. Barber and veterans were dedicated on Aug. 9, 2003.
Redmond and Bend area metal recyclers were notified of the theft and asked to be on the lookout for the plaque.
Anyone with information regarding the plaque's whereabouts and/or the person(s) responsible for its theft is asked to contact Oregon State Police Northern Command Center dispatch at (800) 452-7888.
Similar thefts of valuable historic bronze plaques occurred in September of 2006 in the Columbia River Gorge along the Historic Columbia River Highway. The two stolen plaques were never recovered.
Additional background information about Rex T. Barber is available on the Internet at: http://www.oregon.com/history/biography/rex_barber.cfm