Written by: Pam Bell, Diocese of Oklahoma Archivist
St. Margaret’s of Scotland Episcopal Church, Lawton had unique southwestern architectural elements with exterior stucco walls and red roof tiles. They are also remembered for their front entrance brass bells suspended on wood crosses. These bells were hand forged by a South Vietnamese ally Kim Nguyen Soung and American serviceman Hal Sharpe. Hal was a member of St. Margaret’s serving overseas during the Vietnam conflict, and Purple Heart recipient. He collected artillery shells to fashion into church bells and recruited Kim, who was an experienced metal smith, to cast the bells. The wood crosses were specifically crafted to hold the three bells and hung outside of St. Margaret’s from 1970 to 1992. Transferred to the Diocesan Archive in 1992, the bells have been awaiting a new permanent home.
Twenty-nine years later…
Hal passed away in 2020 and his wife requested the bells be relocated to the new Broken Arrow Veteran’s Center. With the approval of Bishop Poulson, Mitch Reed, the Director of the center and Purple Heart of Oklahoma, drove to Oklahoma City in late 2021 to transport the bells back to Broken Arrow. The new Veteran’s Center will house the Bluestar Mothers, Vietnam Veterans, Purple Heart Oklahoma, VFW, and the American Legion. I am sure Hal would be proud to have his bells residing in such a respected place honoring veterans.
Thank you, Hal, for what you did for St. Margaret’s of Scotland, and honoring your fellow veterans.