ST. CLAIRSVILLE — U.S. Army veteran Robert “Bob” Flanagan is making a mark on the region by restoring some pieces of military history and doing his part to honor other local veterans.
Most recently, Flanagan restored a 90-mm cannon from 1944 that is located on Sugar Street in St. Clairsville.
Flanagan said this is the fifth cannon he has restored in the Ohio Valley. He typically cleans the cannons and paints them the original Army green color.
Flanagan said that although he is not sure if it has seen any wars, the cannon in St. Clairsville had a lot of wear. He estimated that restoring the cannon took about 33 hours.
“It was in bad shape. Out of all of the ones I’ve done, this one was a mess,” he said.
First he powerwashed the cannon and scraped off the dirt and old paint before adding a fresh coat of Army green. Flanagan also painted the cement slab it stands on and trimmed the landscaping around the cannon to make it more visible.
“It’s just a fun thing to do. My mom taught me to help when I can,” he said.
Flanagan does all of the labor for the cannon restorations free of charge either by himself or with the help of other volunteers.
Jackee Pugh, tourism director for Belmont County, got to watch Flanagan in action.
“I live near the cannon on Sugar Street, so when I saw what he was doing I went outside and told him how great 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 previously restored two World War II cannons in Bethesda where he lives — a 90-mm cannon near the municipal building at the Murray Family Memorial Plaza and a 37-mm cannon at Ebenezer Cemetery. He also restored a cannon at Memorial Park in Barnesville. Flanagan said he restored his first cannon eight years ago.
Flanagan served in the U.S. Army from 1965-67. He also served as Bethesda’s mayor from 2000-03. When he is not restoring cannons, Flanagan is attending the funerals of local veterans, where he stands at attention at the cemetery gate while the burials take place.
He also volunteers by playing guitar at local nursing homes. Flanagan has worked as a pilot throughout his life as well.
“I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in life,” he said.
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