Twin 40mm cannon will stand at Veterans Memorial Park in Indiana

By LISA TRIGG | The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind. | Published: July 24, 2019

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Tribune News Service) — A piece of World War II naval history arrived Tuesday in Terre Haute and will be restored and placed at Vigo County Veterans Memorial Park in Terre Haute.

A twin Bofors 40-millimeter anti-aircraft gun from a merchant marine cargo ship is now at F.T. Moore & Sons metal fabrication on Broadlands Avenue to be sandblasted and repainted.

The big gun will be displayed at the park’s northwest corner near Brown Avenue and Locust Street.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” said park president Clifford Stephens as he and other veterans watched the big gun being unloaded from a Peffley and Hinshaw flatbed wrecker.

“And I’m sure it will bring back a lot of memories to guys that were in the Navy, and not just the Navy, but the other armed forces,” Stephens said, “because it was used in all the campaigns in World War II in the Pacific to soften up the beaches and stuff like that.”

The gun will be the first piece of military equipment to be placed at Veterans Memorial Park, Stephens said.

The gun traveled about 60 miles from its longtime home at the Williamsport American Legion, which is now closed, to be repurposed in Terre Haute.

“The main goal right now,” Stephens said, “is we need help getting donations to get this weapon refurbished and set out at the park. So us veterans need help. We are putting the call out.”

Stephens recalled operating a similar 40 millimeter gun during his service in the Navy in 1963 on a Fletcher-class destroyer.

“I was the one who helped fire the thing. We used it to do short bombardment off the coast of Vietnam,” Stephens said.

Getting the gun moved to Terre Haute was about an eight-month process, he said, and it received the approval of the Vigo County commissioners and council, Terre Haute City Council, and Indiana State University — the entities with interests in the park property.

It took more than four years to get the park established in honor of veterans.

Future plans are to place an Air Force aircraft from the Korean War at the southeast corner of the park near Wabash Avenue, a tank from the Army at the southwest corner near Wabash and Brown, and an amphibious unit at the northeast corner in honor of Marines.

Stephens said he is also hoping to acquire a bell from a Coast Guard cutter.

Several area veterans group are working on the project as part of the park development.

Stephens said setting the gun at the park is an important reminder of how Americans fought and died for freedom.

“Think about all the people who gave their lives for us to be able to do what we’re doing today and this is part of our history,” Stephens said, “and I am very proud to be proud of it.”

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