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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Submarine WWII Memorial, Burnsville

  • Type

    War Memorial

  • Subjects

    World War II

  • Creator

    Harrell Flowers, Sculptor

  • City

    Burnsville

  • County

    Yancey

  • Description

    The memorial is formed by two terraced stone walls each about 30 feet long with a stone paver patio in front. Two flower planters flank the memorial plaques on the lower of the two walls. On the wall above the plaques is a ships anchor and chain with the letters USN attached. A ships mast flying the American flag and two small submarine service flags stands behind the upper wall and is framed by a third short wall section.

    Images: Chain and Anchor | Harrell Flowers plaque | Far-off side view | Plaque with a list of submarines lost in WWII

  • Inscription

    THEY HAVE SLIPPED THEIR CHAINS AND ARE SAILING FREE WITH THE WIND

    TO KEEP ALIVE THE MEMORY OF / 3505 SUBMARINE SAILORS AND 52 SUBMARINES / LOST IN WWII WHO ARE ON ETERNAL PATROL / [Column one] USS SEALION / USS S-36 / USS S-26 / USS SHARK I / USS PERCH / USS S-27 / USS GRUNION / USS S-39 / USS ARGONAUT / USS AMBERJACK / USS GRAMPUS / USS TRITON / USS PICKEREL / [Column two] USS GRENADIER / USS RUNNER / USS R-12 / USS POMPANO / USS GRAYLINC / USS CISCO / USS S-44 / USS WAHOO / USS DORADO / USS CORVINA / USS SCULPIN / USS CAPELIN / USS SCORPION / [Column three] USS GRAYBACK / USS TROUT / USS TULLIBEE / USS GUDGEON / USS HERRING / USS GOLET / USS S- 28 / USS ROBALD / USS FLIER / USS HARDER / USS SEAWOLF / USS ESCOLAR / USS DARTER / [Column four] USS SHARK II / USS TANG / USS ALBACORE / USS GROWLER / USS SCAMP / USS SWORDFISH / USS BARBEL / USS TRIGGER / USS SADOK / USS LAGARTO / USS BONEFISH / USS BULLHEAD

  • Custodian

    U.S. Submarine Veterans of North Carolina

  • Dedication Date

    June 7, 2003

  • Decade

    2000s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.950480 , -82.292150 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      North Carolina Sub Vets, July-August- September 2003, (accessed April 4, 2016) Link

      North Carolina Sub Vets, October-November- December 2003, (accessed April 4, 2016) Link

      “Submarine Memorial – Tolling of the Boats,” YouTube, (accessed April 4, 2016)

      “USA: ‘Tolling Of The Boats’ Ceremony Held To Honor Fallen Submariners,” NavalToday.com, (accessed April 4, 2016) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Local stone and concrete

  • Sponsors

    Harrell Flowers

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    Subvets of NC hosted the dedication but due to rain Burnsville Mayor Michelle Lawhern allowed the group to use a courtroom in the county building for the ceremony. Command Master Chief Jeff Hudson from Submarine Group 10, Kings Bay, Georgia made a talk on the role of the submarine in the modern navy followed by a speech by Subvet member Bill Whelan. The preamble of the “Tolling of the Boats” (see subject notes) was read by Chuck Jensen. Mike Burkholder read the list of Lost Boats followed by a moment of silence for the 52 submarines that did not return from patrol in World War Two. A large bell was rung after the name of each boat was read. The dedication wreath was then presented before several sub veterans talked on their experiences in World War Two. The program was closed by the playing of taps, a prayer and the singing of the Navy Hymn. The weather improved later in the day and many were able to visit the memorial. The next day, Sunday July 8, several families gathered at the memorial and formally laid the wreath.

  • Subject Notes

    Although Burnsville, high in the mountains of North Carolina, may seem like a strange place to build a memorial to submarine vets, the town does have a connection to naval history. It was named after Ottaway Burns, a North Carolina native, who was a privateer during the War of 1812. The memorial was constructed by Harrell Flowers, a chief torpedoman who served on the USS Gato during World War Two. He built the memorial at his home to keep alive the memory of submarines and their crews and their epitaph “overdue and presumed lost.” Unfortunately, he died before seeing the memorial dedicated.

    The “Tolling of the Boats,” is a ceremony honoring the memory of the submariners who lost their lives in the line of duty, especially those during World War II. In the ceremony, the names of every U.S. submarine lost, along with the fate of its crew, are read aloud as a ship’s bell is tolled for each in turn.

  • Location

    From Burnsville, drive north on Highway 197 and travel almost three miles to a sign for “Moonshine Mountain Estates,” turn left and travel up the winding Moonshine Mountain Road for about one mile until reaching the memorial. The address is 891 Moonshine Mountain Road.

  • Landscape

    The memorial sets in a nicely landscaped area in a mountain subdivision at a cutback in the road.

  • Post Dedication Use

    The annual convention of North Carolina submarine veterans, which includes a ceremony at the memorial, is held annual in Burnsville, NC.

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