Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

September 7, 2013

Living History

LST-325, which landed troops at Normandy on D-Day, in Ashland until Monday

ASHLAND — The LST 325, a World War II amphibious vessel that landed troops and armor at Normandy on D-Day and now serves as a living memorial to other vessels of its type and their crews, has been a huge attraction during its five-day stay in Ashland.

On Saturday alone, 3,929 passed through it.

Crew member Don Brilliant said he wouldn’t be surprised if the vessel ended up drawing as many here as it did in Charleston, its previous stop. More than 15,000 toured the ship there, he said.

But if you haven’t seen the ship yet, you’d best hurry because tomorrow is your last chance to do so.

The ship and its 36-member crew will be pulling up anchor and leaving at the close of Monday’s tours, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for ages 6 through 17. Those 5 and younger are free, and a family pass good for two adults and two children is $20.

The self-guided tour includes the main deck, troop berthing, mess deck, galley, wheel house, officers’ quarters, captain’s cabin and stern armaments. Touring the vessel takes from 45 to 90 minutes, Brilliant said. There’s no time limit and visitors can go through the ship at their own individual paces and spend as much or as little time aboard it as they like, he said.

Visitors enter the belly of the ship through the massive bow doors through which it disgorged tanks and troops on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Of the more than 1,000 LSTs built during World War II, 325 — which was rescued from a Greek scrap yard in 1999 — is the only one still operational. LST stands for Landing Ship, Tank.

“It’s a piece of history and it’s the only ship that’s able to travel to the people,” Brilliant said. “We’re the envy of the museum world because of that.”

LST 325, which is owned by the nonprofit LST Memorial Inc., is docked in Evansville, Ind., and cruises for a month each year, making stops at cities along the Ohio River. This year’s voyage has two stops remaining, in Owensboro and in Madison, Ind.

David Perdue of Huntington, who was among those who toured the vessel on Saturday, said he thought the vessel was something everyone should see, particularly young people.

“For youth, it’s a true history lesson,” he said. “Actually touring something like this is worth a thousand textbooks.”

Chris Erwin of Ashland brought his 93-year-old father, Claude, a D-Day veteran who served aboard three different ships during WWII, to see LST 325.

Erwin said a vessel similar to LST 325 carried his father to England after he suffered damage to his eardrums in combat. Once he’d healed sufficiently, he finished out the war in a military police unit, he said.

Touring the ship brought back a lot of memories for his dad, Erwin said.

“It was good for him to get to see it again,” he said.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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