By Beth Germano

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a desperate effort now to find a solution to cleaning the oil off the World War II memorial in South Boston that has left those with loved ones named there angry and heartbroken.

“These are all South Boston people who gave their life for our country. It’s a horrible thing that’s happened here,” said Doris Rooney who came to visit the site.

Coming for the first time to see the vandalism was Kellie Mullen, the granddaughter of John Mullen, a World War II veteran himself, who raised the money for the memorial and ironically died the day it was defaced. “He wanted everyone to know the people who didn’t make it back, he wanted them to be remembered and didn’t want anyone forgotten,” Mullen said.

She says sadly it was a good thing he passed on before witnessing the desecration. “I think the timing was good. I’m glad he didn’t see it because it would have broken his heart,” she said.

Crews work to clean vandalized WWII Memorial in South Boston (Image credit Beth Germano)

For hours a cleaning company applied test panels of poultice to the memorial, a pasty substance that Robert Shure believes is the solution. He was the man hired to design and build the memorial and knows about cleaning stone. “We’re pasting it on and it will dry over time and pull the oil out of the stone,” he said. The panels, he says, will dry for 24 hours and by Thursday they will hopefully have an answer.

Police are also investigating a similar case at Mount Hope Cemetery in Mattapan where John Tigges, owner of Davis Monuments in Roslindale has offered to help with cleanup. Several monuments were also defaced with an oily substance, including one to fallen Boston police officers. “When stone isn’t polished the pores are open. But it doesn’t go very deep which is why we think there’s hope to save these stones,” said Tigges.

Now the question about whether more security is needed around the memorials is one that frustrates Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “Maybe we do have to put cameras in more places, but it’s not even a conversation we should have to have,” he said.

Boston Police have not yet made a connection between the two cases of vandalism.

Beth Germano