The piece of equipment is parked at a memorial site in Waterville.

WATERVILLE (AP) – An Army M-60 assault tank parked at a site that serves as a memorial to men and women who served in the armed forces was spray-painted with peace signs, an act apparently linked to the war in Iraq.

The vandalism took place Wednesday night or Thursday morning near the rear parking lot of the Bourque-Lanigan American Legion Post off Front Street.

Several peace signs were spray-painted in pink on the tank. In addition, “Stop Bush” was sprayed onto the cement pad on which the tank rests.

A police officer noticed the defaced tank during a routine patrol at dawn on Thursday.

“It will be investigated like we would investigate any other criminal mischief complaint,” police Sgt. Michael P. Benecke said.

If the damage to the tank and cement pad turns out to be more than $2,000, it is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If the damage is less than $2,000, it is a Class D misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.

Leonel Veilleux, commander of the American Legion post, said he assumes that the spray-painting was in protest of the war with Iraq.

“Protests are fine – everyone has that right, but don’t desecrate private property,” he said.

Veilleux said the cost of re-painting the tank and cleaning the cement pad will run to at least several hundred dollars, he said.

The 60-ton tank was trucked to Waterville in June 2000 from Fort Drum, N.Y., where it was used for training.

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