It was mid-morning on Aug. 4, 1984, when a Plymouth American Legion member saw a group of men take a World War I cannon that was on display outside the legion hall, place it on a trailer and drive off.
It would have been an odd sight for any other day but this one, as the Legion was in the process of moving to a new building.
But as it turns out, the men weren't movers, and no one has seen the cannon since, Sheboygan Press Media reported.
"He just drove by and said, 'Oh, they're moving the cannon today,' but no, they were stealing it," said Eugene Blindauer, 77, the post's commander and a Korean War veteran.
Nearly 30 years a later, the theft has not been forgotten thanks to continued work by investigators who say they want to see the cannon returned to its rightful owners at the Ladewig-Zinkgraf American Legion Post 243.
In the past year, the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office and Plymouth Police Department have brought renewed interest to the case, distributing fliers and hanging posters about the cannon in hopes of generating new leads.
"We're just interested in getting it back for the vets," said Sgt. Doug Tuttle of the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office, who's assisted in the investigation since the early 1990s. "I've always envisioned pulling up with a flatbed trailer and saying, 'Hey, look what we found.'"
The statute of limitations has long since expired on the crime itself, meaning authorities are now focused on recovering the cannon rather than building a criminal case.
Plymouth police said the American Legion member who witnessed the theft reported seeing four people wheel the cannon onto a trailer being pulled by a pickup truck. The theft occurred at the former Legion hall at Main and North streets, where an apartment complex now stands.
No suspects were identified, but the case has continued to receive attention from police.
"We don't want to say that it makes any other cold case less important, but there are some cases that are closer to certain officers than others because they worked on them," said Plymouth Deputy Police Chief Chris Ringel. "Officers don't forget their cases."
Tuttle, a military history buff and one-time Civil War re-enactor who was a battle-scene extra in the 1993 film "Gettsysburg," has a soft spot for the case as the victims were veterans and the item stolen has historical value.
Tuttle first came across the case in the early 1990s, and it's since become one he's returned to off and on ever since. But most of the leads he's followed have been fruitless.
Years ago, he received a tip that the cannon had been stashed away in the hayloft of a barn, but a search turned up nothing. Later he was given a name of someone who possibly knew the cannon's whereabouts only to find the individual had since died after being killed by a falling tree.
Investigators have interviewed and re-interviewed several persons of interest, but to no avail, while others have been reluctant to talk.
"But I've never forgotten about it," Tuttle said.
The cannon was actually a replacement for one the Legion had on display since opening in 1920 before it was donated to the military for scrap metal during World War II. The Legion acquired the second cannon sometime after the war.
Legion members said the cannon was built in the early 1900s and used by the Japanese during World War I. It was designed to be easily dismantled, packed up and hauled in difficult terrain.
Few photographs exist of it today, but Legion members still remember it and consider it an heirloom of sorts that they want back, no matter how many years have gone by.
"It's just the closure. It's a mystery in Plymouth you'd like it taken care of," said Konrad Kaczkowski, 67, the legion's adjutant and a Vietnam veteran.
Tuttle has since obtained a letter from the Sheboygan County District Attorney's Office, proclaiming that the state will not pursue criminal charges if someone comes forth with information on the cannon, though he knows the odds are slim.
"We're kind of fighting an uphill battle," Tuttle said. "People's memories have gotten foggy, and there are people who have passed away that may have had information."
Even so, he and other investigators will keep trying.
"For the sake of all the vets that are living or passed that have given the ultimate sacrifice, to be able to give them back something that belonged to them ... it's about setting things right as best we can, even so many years later," Tuttle said.