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South Point to receive artillery piece

SOUTH POINT — The Village of South Point is getting a gun. A big gun.

U.S. military officials notified council members this month that a 105 mm light howitzer, M101A1 artillery unit, which village officials have been seeking for a decade, will soon be available for placement in the village’s riverfront park.

It was the late Mayor Bill Gaskin’s dream to install this specific artillery piece at the war memorial, according to his son Jeff Gaskin and council member David Classing.

“He envisioned that there probably 10 years ago,” said Classing, adding the mayor first approached former Gov. Ted Strickland when he was serving as U.S. Representative of Ohio’s 6th District, about getting the howitzer.

The village was told then there were none available.

“He had this specific model and everything in mind that he wanted,” said his son, who will be sworn in as the council’s newest member in January. “He wanted something big. He didn’t want a play thing or something little to put out there.”

Jeff Gaskin said he has “no idea” why his father wanted that particular model of howitzer.

“Dad was in the Marine Corps but he was not in artillery. He may have seen the gun some place and it may have impressed him, but I know he wanted a big gun. He did not want a small one and that is probably why.”

He said his father wanted to place it in the park because “Everybody has a gun in their park. There are two at the courthouse. All communities have a gun in their park and he didn’t want to be left out.”

Classing said the village sent a letter to Army officials earlier this month confirming their desire for the weapon. Before it can be installed in the park, the village must submit additional information to the military including where the gun will be placed. A concrete pad must also be installed for it, he said.

Council members have not discussed a budget for the project, but the village must also provide transportation for the piece, which is currently in Warren, Mich.

Ohio National Guard Public Affairs Officer Capt. Matt Molinski said the village will also be asked to sign a loan of equipment with the federal government.

It is yet to be determined when the howitzer will arrive in South Point and no information was available about the specific weapon’s history.

The 105 mm howitzer the standard artillery for the United States in World War II, was used in both European and Pacific theaters. It was also used in Korea and Vietnam but has since been retired by the military.

The weapon was manufactured by Rock Island Arsenal. It weighs approximately 5,000 lbs. and had an effective range of nearly 7 miles. The weapon is 19.5 feet long, 5.6 feet high and 7.25 feet across.