ST. CLAIRSVILLE — U.S. Army veteran Robert “Bob” Flanagan is making a mark on the region by restoring pieces of military history and doing his part to honor other local veterans.
Most recently, Flanagan restored a 1944 90mm cannon 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 guns and paints them in the original army green color.
Flanagan said that while he is not sure if it has seen any wars, the cannon in St. Clairsville very worn. He estimated that the restoration of the cannon took about 33 hours.
“It was in bad shape. Out of all the ones I’ve done, this one was a mess,” he said.
First he powerwashed the gun and scraped off dirt and old paint before adding a new coat of Army green. Flanagan also painted the cement slab it stands on and trimmed the landscape around the cannon to make it more visible.
“It’s just a fun thing to do. My mom taught me to help out when I can,” he said.
Flanagan does all the work 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 see 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 community members like Flanagan make her proud to work in Belmont County. “It’s so important to see community members give back and volunteer 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 World War II cannons in Bethesda, where he lives — a 90 mm cannon near the municipal building at 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 US Army from 1965-67. He also served as Bethesda’s mayor from 2000-03. When not restoring cannons, Flanagan attends local veterans’ funerals, standing at attention at the cemetery gate while the burials take place.
He also volunteers by playing guitar at local nursing homes. Flanagan has also worked as a pilot throughout his life.
“I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in life,” he said.