Armed Forces from Clyde Township, Clyde
The Armed Forces from Clyde Township is a three-inch 50mm mounted anti-aircraft gun located in middle of Town Square. The gun came from Norfolk Naval Base and serves as a memorial honoring the veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War. The gun itself weighs about 17,500 pounds and is painted grey in color. On the rear end of the gun facing State Rd. lays a bronze plaque bearing the names of thirteen veterans in Clyde Township who gave their lives in service. On the opposite side of the gun, a small rectangular marble block is mounted adjacent to the gun’s base, and displays a separate inscription honoring a Clyde Vietnam veteran and a bronze plaque listing five Vietnam War dead is present. A bronze plaque to Milton “Bucky” Brown was added for the re-dedication in 2008.
Front, bronze plaque: IN MEMORY OF THE MEMBERS OF / THE ARMED FORCES FROM CLYDE TOWN-SHIP / WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY. / ERECTED BY THE TOWN OF CLYDE, ITS CITIZENS / AND THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. / WORLD WAR I / PFC. MELVIN RHINEHART / WORLD WAR II / CPL. ERNEST CASE PVT. JAMES CLARK PFC. RUSSELL C. FLEMING / LT. JG. PAUL GOSSETT / CPL. CARROLL HAWKINS CPL. RAY HUGHEY / S/SGT. EARL LEATHERWOOD PVT. LUCIOUS LINDSEY S/SGT. JACK MESSER / PFC. JACK RATHBONE M.S. HARRY LEE STAMEY / KOREAN CONFLICT / CAPT. ZEMRA SIZEMORE
Top face, marble block: IN MEMORY OF / SGT. CHARLES CROCKETT / MATTHEWS / DIED AUGUST 13, 1969 / SOUTH VIET NAM / ERECTED BY HIS WIFE MARY 2008 plaque: WITH SINCERE APPRECIATION TO / MILTON “BUCKY” BROWN / FOR HIS DEDICATION AND EFFORTS / TO SECURE THE “BIG GUN” FOR / THE CITIZENS OF CLYDE AND / HAYWOOD COUNTY. SINCE 1965 / “LETS MEET AT THE BIG GUN” / HAS BEEN THE FRIENDLY / GET-TOGETHER SAYING USED / BY FOLKS THROUGHOUT / HAYWOOD COUNTY. / PRESENTED BY / HOMETRUST BANK / NOVEMBER 11, 2008
Vietnam plaque: VIETNAM WAR / SSGT. BENNY GREENE * PFC ROBERT HAWKINS * SGT. CHARLES MATTHEWS / SP5 DAVID MCPHERSON * BMC3 CHARLES WOODARD
May 15, 1965. Rededication: November 11, 2008
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“The Armed Forces from Clyde Town-ship,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed February 2015) Link
Buddy Melton, Milan Miller & Mark W. Winchester. "The Big Gun at the Center of Clyde." From the Album Songs From Haywood County . June 26, 2009 Link
Gardner, Kim. “Downtown Clyde welcomes back gun to town square,” The Mountaineer (Waynesville, NC), March 28, 2008, Infotrac Newsstand
“Celebrate Veterans Day in Clyde at 11a.m.,” The Mountaineer (Waynesville, NC), November 10, 2011
“Clyde Gun 'Fitting Memorial' to the 13 Who Died in War,” The Waynesville Mountaineer (Waynesville, NC), May 17, 1965, A1 Front Page
“Clyde Will Dedicate Town Gun May 15,” The Waynesville Mountaineer (Waynesville, NC), May 14, 1965, A1 Front Page
Steel, bronze, marble, cement
The Town of Clyde, The Chamber of Commerce, and citizens of the Clyde Township
For the dedication of the memorial on May 15, 1965, Town Judge Larry Cagle led the ceremonies, with further words provided by Senator O. L. Yates and Haywood Representative Ernest Messer. Additionally, Reverend Clayton Lime, pastor at the Canton First Presbyterian Church, gave the invocation. A Clyde High School student and daughter of the Mayor, Belinda Rogers, recited a poem during the ceremony called “Unknown Soldier,” and the Clyde School band provided music. The program was sponsored by the Town of Clyde, the Chamber of Commerce, and citizens of the township. Monroe Phillips, commander of Varner-Rhinehart American Legion Post in Canton, and Walter Lee, commander of the Edwards-Clarke-Messer V.F.W. Post in Canton unveiled a wooden plaque with the names of the 13 Clyde men who gave their lives in World War I, World War II, or the Korean Conflict. The bronze plaque displayed with the gun memorial today had not arrived in time for the dedication service. Additionally, the marble block honoring the Clyde Vietnam veteran was added at a later point in time and was not a part of the original marker dedication.
A second dedication and ribbon cutting for the gun memorial took place on November 11, 2008, following the permanent relocation of the marker.
The Big Gun
In 1964, a seven-year-old boy named John Brown from the Town of Clyde asked why Clyde does not have a gun monument for the town square. The idea was brought to the Clyde Chamber of Commerce, where it was further recommended to the Congressman Roy Taylor. Taylor was able to locate an anti-aircraft gun at the naval shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia. Congressman Taylor allowed the Clyde Township to keep the gun, as long as Clyde figured out the transportation logistics.
The marble block mounted honoring the Clyde Vietnam veteran is located adjacent to the gun marker. It was erected by the veteran’s wife, Mary Matthews.
An image of the gun memorial is currently a central feature on the town seal.
The marker is located in downtown Clyde, NC near the intersection of North Marin Street and State Road. The gun’s location is recognized as the center of town.
The mounted gun sits on a corner of the town square in front of a few businesses, atop decorative pavers. A large parking lot sits adjacent to the marker.
The marker was moved to a temporary location on Broad Street in 2007, to make room for construction downtown. In March 2008, the gun was moved back to its permanent location in Town Square near the intersection of N. Main St. and State Road.
The Town of Clyde and Chapter 980 of the Vietnam Veterans of America hold an annual Veteran’s Day Celebration on November 11th in Town Square in front of the Big Gun marker. The annual celebrations began in 2008, following the rededication of the monument in its permanent location.
Milton Brown, Clyde’s chair of the Chamber of Commerce, petitioned Congressman Roy Taylor for a World War II naval gun. Taylor was able to locate an anti-aircraft gun at the naval shipyard in Virginia, and allowed Clyde to have the gun on the condition that the Chamber of Commerce dealt with all transportation logistics.