Belmont County veteran restores WWII cannon in St. Clairsville | News, Sports, Jobs

Thanks to the efforts of Bethesda resident and Army veteran Robert Flanagan, the WWII-era cannon along Sugar Street in St. Clairsville looks a lot better these days. (photo provided)

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – US Army veteran Robert “Bob” Flanagan is making his mark on the region, restoring some pieces of military history and doing his part to honor other local veterans.

Most recently, Flanagan restored a 1944 90mm gun located on Sugar Street in St. Clairsville.

Flanagan said this is the fifth gun he has restored in the Ohio Valley. He usually cleans the guns and paints them the original army green color.

Flanagan said that while the cannon at St. Clairsville was badly worn, he wasn’t sure if there had been any wars. He estimated that the cannon took about 33 hours to recover.

“It was in bad shape. Of all the ones I’ve done, this one was a mess,” he said.

First he pressure cleaned the cannon, scraping off the dirt and old paint before applying a fresh coat of army green. Flanagan also painted the concrete pad it’s standing on and cropped the landscaping around the cannon to make it more visible.

“It’s just fun. “My mother taught me to help whenever I can,” he said.

Flanagan does all the cannon restoration work himself or with the help of other volunteers for free.

Jackete Pugh, director of tourism for Belmont County, caught Flanagan in action.

“I live near the cannon on Sugar Street. When I saw what he was doing, I went outside and told him how amazing it looked,” she said.

Pugh said members of the community like Flanagan make her proud to work in Belmont County. “It’s so important to see community members giving back and volunteering their time to restore landmarks in St. Clairsville and Belmont County. It shows a level of love and commitment to the community,” she said.

Flanagan has previously restored two WWII guns in Bethesda, where he lives – a 90mm gun near the parish building at Murray Family Memorial Plaza and a 37mm gun in Ebenezer Cemetery. He also restored a cannon in Memorial Park in Barnesville. Flanagan said he restored his first gun eight years ago.

Flanagan served in the US Army from 1965 to 1967. He was also mayor of Bethesda from 2000 to 2003. When he’s not restoring guns, Flanagan attends the funerals of local veterans, where he stands at attention at the cemetery gate during the burials.

He also volunteers by playing guitar at local nursing homes. Flanagan has also worked as a pilot his entire life.

“I’ve done everything I wanted to do in life,” he said.

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