DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - They were never even given the honor of a formal name, all of them identified simply by the number on their hull. LST-325 is the very last of these remarkable landing ships reputed for delivering the war right to the front steps of the enemy during World War II. It's a floating museum now, and Wednesday morning it sailed into Decatur.
There was crowd on-hand to watch LST-325 slowly make its way into Ingalls Harbor, but no one was more excited to see it than Herbert Anders. He served aboard one of these vessels for four years, the LST-1148. His ship became grounded while delivering supplies to Korea, and they were sitting ducks for some 12 hours.
"We had to spend the night there. That's where I ended up with two battle scars, they pulled a raid on us a couple of times while we were in there," Anders explained.
The LST's were the military's cargo ships, delivering tons of tanks, jeeps, supplies and troops directly to enemy shorelines. The 325 made a total of 44 landings on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Rescued and restored, the 325 is a floating museum now giving us a glimpse of what life was like during the darkest of days.
"I think if we could get across the fact that freedom is not free, they're gonna get a good look at what it was like in 1942 for these men that went to war and pushed back both the Japanese and the Germans at the same time," said Capt. Bob Jornlin who served for three years aboard an LST during World War II and now commands the 325.
The men who served aboard the LST's will tell you these vessels won the war. That's a claim often disputed by those who served aboard battleships and aircraft carriers, but what cannot be disputed is the fact the LST's delivered the war to the enemy. There were 1,051 of them built and this is the last one. A piece of history, gratefully preserved.
The LST325, which was built almost entirely by women by the way, will be open to the public at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur beginning Wednesday through next Tuesday. They do ask for a $10 donation, which is about enough to run the vessel for about eight minutes.