The Charlotte Observer
Two U.S. Marines damaged a helicopter just after dining and dashing at a Waffle House in North Carolina, officials said.
The act of vandalism left the helicopter with broken windows and about $1,000 in damage on Saturday, Aug. 20, according to police in Havelock. The Eastern North Carolina city is home to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point.
The damage was reported after a video captured two men walking up to the aircraft on display outside of the Tourist and Event Center in Havelock.
Officials said one of the men climbed onto a RF-4B phantom II plane and took photos. Both men are accused of trying to spin the blades of a HH-46E model helicopter and getting inside the aircraft.
“This particular airplane means a lot to Eastern North Carolina because of all of the lives over the years that they’ve rescued or gotten out of the hurricane situations,” Richard Hazlett, aviation curator for the city, told WNCT.
The vandalism was reported at about 3 a.m., roughly an hour after officials said the same suspects ate at a nearby Waffle House. Photos posted to Facebook appear to show one of the suspects at the restaurant wearing a sweatshirt with the letters “USMC,” an abbreviation for the U.S. Marine Corps.
“The two males walked out of the restaurant without paying for their food,” the Havelock Police Department wrote in a Facebook post. “Waffle House reviewed their video camera footage and recognized the two males from the Tourist & Event Center footage.”
Now, officials credit that unpaid Waffle House bill and investigative work with helping them identify two suspects. The men were “charged with injury to real property and a city ordinance violation of disorderly conduct,” police wrote.
The two men went back to Cherry Point ahead of a September court date. An investigation into the Waffle House incident was ongoing as of Aug. 23, officials said.