BAZETTA TWP., Ohio (WKBN) — After hundreds of flags and grave markers honoring service men and women were removed from Hillside Cemetery without permission, on Saturday the graves were restaked with help from a couple of local veterans groups.

“It’s really a heartbreaking situation, particularly for the veterans who died in action,” said Robert Mangold, a retired U.S. Army colonel and member of the American Legion Post 540. “There are some here that date all the way back to the Revolutionary War.”

Mangold spent Saturday morning, with the help of American Legion Post 700 from Howland, returning the missing markers to each gravestone. It took around three hours to restake about 400 medallions.

The medallions identify the military service of each veteran.

“They really do need to be remembered,” said David Luther, with American Legion Post 700. “They might have not been killed in action, but they served our country and they are the ones we owe a debt to.”

Many of the gravestones that were put in the cemetery are made out of limestone and the writing on the stone has worn away. Because the medallions were previously removed, Mangold says it will be difficult to re-identify every grave.

“It’s going to come down to paper research with some books produced by the Bazetta Historical Society,” Mangold said.

The local veterans groups feel obligated to honor their fellow comrades.

“We’re all over 80. We stumble around with our arthritis, but it’s a mission and we don’t regret one minute of spending our time out here doing it,” Mangold said.

He says the work done is a step in the right direction.

“We wanted to get a jump on this so that the process of putting the flags on these graves is easier come May,” Mangold said.

At this time, there is no specific date in May yet when the flags will be placed near the gravestones.