Share Your Memories of the Evansville Shipyard and the LST - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Share Your Memories of the Evansville Shipyard and the LST

We're looking for your stories of the Evansville Shipyard, the LST and life in the tri-state during World War II.

We'll post as many as we can in our LST 325 section. Share your memories with generations to come about this important time in our local history as our nation fought for freedom.

Click here to send us your story.

Enjoy these stories of the LST and the Evansville Shipyard:

I worked at the Shipyard in Evansville, September 1943, until it closed in 1945.  I was a welder on day shift, working on the 1st skid.  Worked under a fellow named Rainey.  Everyone had nicknames, my nicknames were "Sugar", and "Kentucky".  My wife and I lived in the government housing unit, where there was only a sheet of plywood dividing the apartments.
My family, my wife and I plan to visit the ship on Wed.
James Burden (age-86)
 
*****
 
My father, H. Paul Zipser, was on the LST 1069 when it was commissioned in 1945.  That makes him a "Plank Owner". He stayed on the ship  as a Motor Mac 3rd class until 1946, the entire time he was in the Navy.  The 1069 was never actually in battle, but the ship carried much needed supplies, refugees, and transported POWS to the US.  One POW that my father actually talked to was a general in the Japanese Army. This man was famous for catching American fliers and cutting out and eating their livers. This general graduated from UCLA.
 
Because they were not in a battle zone, there were things that the sailors could do that weren't entirely military.  My father loved to build kites.  He was allowed to fly them at certain times.  One day, he forgot to take his kite down.  Another ship radioed that they didn't understand the LST's signal.  Capt. Louis A. Rockwell came over the loud speaker : "Zipser....get your ****  kite down!!"  
 
My father has stayed in touch with Capt Rockwell, and Exc. Officer George Robbins for years.  Dad has found 28 of his Navy Buddies, and has organized three reunions for the 1069, in St Louis, Denver, and Long Beach, CA.  Two of these men,  George Gunther, CA, and  Jr. Burleson, SC, have been life-long friends. 
 
I will never forget the look on Dad's face when we first saw  LST 325 in Mobile 2 years ago.  To be able to be on a ship exactly like the one Dad was on, and to have him tell us things about the ship, was a thrill of a lifetime for us, and for Dad.  We (Mom, Dad, my husband and I) look forward to being  aboard the 325 again.   We are so proud of Dad, and the LST that has made up such a large part of what my father is today.
                                                                                          Connie Hileman
 
*****
 
My Dad, JOHN CENCULA, was only 17 when he first began his service aboard the LST 459 in WWII.  He served on the 459 from April 1944 into 1946. The LST 459 was in the Seventh Fleet, the "Seventh Flotilla", that returned to the Philippines with General MacArthur after his statement, "I shall return."  My Dad's LST carried a medical staff on board - 17 pharmacists and 8 doctors.  The Commander was Van Zandt (not sure, possibly was a congressman), and the captain was Captain Wagner.  My Dad was a signalman and a gunner on the 3".50 (not sure if that's the correct way to print it out - shell size). 
I'm very proud of my Dad who now resides in Spring Grove, Illinois.
I consider it ' top priority' to take him and my Mom to either Evansville or Jeffersonville this July to see the LST 325.
Have not found anyone yet from the LST 459.  Would be glad to hear from anyone who was on board the 459, or knew of someone who was.
Thank you to all our service men and women, from each and every war.   They put so much on the line fighting for our freedom.  Thank you.
My Dad lost his photos of the LST 459 in a flood.  Are there other photos of this LST out there?
Kathy (Cencula) Comer - Mundelein, Illinois
 
*****
 
My mother  EDITH JONES worked on the ship in 1944.  She was a lively teenager - about 18 and is very proud that she took the welders test and passed.  She said she was a good overhead welder and loved it.  She was on the ship the 1st time it was launched and they let the employees ride.  Mom has shared a lot of memories from that era.  The one thing she will never forget is her leadman (carried the cords to her) was killed when they were loading a switchboard on the ship.  It apparently fell and crushed him.  She has many memories of working there and living on Louisana Street.  Her husband Arvel Jones was a crane operator.  Mom had to quit because of being pregnant with me.  I was born in Jan. 1945.  My sister-in-law, Jan Jones, will bring Mom to Evansville on the 11th to see the ship and hopefully the museum.  She is very excited to share in this event.  We currently live in Clarksville, Indiana.  Her name is now Edith Shepherd.  I will be out of town and hope to see the ship when it comes to Jeffersonville later in July.
Best Wishes to all
Barb Davis
 
*****
 
My Dad was a chief naval inspector at the shipyard.  He left Owensboro before I got up and came in late at night.  He always left a little of his sandwich from the lunch he carried to share with me when he got home. I was 4.  During the Cuban Crisis we were under way to do a practice landing.  My unit was on 2 LST's of the class made in Evansville,  The ships first Lt. took me to the inspection plate in the Ship's machinery rm where he showed me My Dad's signature on that inspection plate.  He said several were still commissioned and being used in the AMPHIBTACLANT> I was Liason Officer Between 18th Corps and AMPHIBTACLANT. I could not tell my dad about this until after it was over.  I was never as thrilled in my life than to know my dad had a part in building the ships we were goingto use in Cuban mission.  (Summer 1962) Thanks
 
*****
 
I was only 10 when ww11 started,but I remember seeing pictures of  my Aunt Mary(Mullins)in coveralls and holding a welders mask.She was from Flora,Illinois,an original "Rosie the Riveter.
 
***** 
 
 My mother-in-law, Mary Georges, was a welder and help build many of the LSTs. Mary, now deceased, was a proud worker and earned several pins....i.e. letter E with red, white and blue background and a pin depicting a ship at sea.
    Besides these pins, she also gave her daughters  (Bette Jo Hunt of Poseyville, and Charlene Rosenfeld of Shelbyville ) copies of THE INVADER, the shipyard publication. Two copies were donated to the National D Day Museum in New Orleans as a tribute to the women who served this country in World War 2. The two copies are on display at times in the NDDM.
   Bette retains the other copy for it is Volume 1., Number 1 and is the FIRST LAUNCHING EDITION.
This interesting booklet dated October 31, 1942,  tells the story of the Evansville Shipyard.
   Another article introduces Fred Hackler, the Boss of Ship One.
   The launching program is the centerfold of the booklet and such dignitaries as The Honorable William Dress, Mayor of Evansville; The Honorable John W. Boehne, Jr., Member of Congress;The Honorable Henry Schricker, Governor of the State of Indiana;Sponsor, Mrs. DeWitt C. Redgrave; and Matron of Honor, Mrs. Henry Goodwin were in attendance. The Reverend Albert Torbet gave the invocation.
   Several shipyard workers are pictured and one photo shows a group of twenty women who are starting the training course to become welders.
   We are looking forward to the visit of the 325 and its crew. Glad we could help be a part of this historic event.
Bob and Bette Jo Hunt
Poseyville, IN  47633
 
*****
 
My two most exciting trips-those that  I looked forward to each time- were the Evansville Shipyard and Republic Aviation.  Not permitted to enter the gate at the shipyard, I had to wait there until Dad delivered his petroleum products.  But I could see from my vantage point the huge Landing Ship Tanks (LST's)  being built and hundreds of people swarming around.  Over l9,000 were employed around the clock, and at l0:00 p.m. at night it seemed like noon.  It was really bright.  It was like a city in a city".  (Page 10)
 
Joe Roth,  Author
Golden Wildcats
University Editions, Inc
l995
 
*****

Hi we are proud of my grandmother who helped build the LST.

She has showed us the picture of her getting ready to weild on the ship
since i was a lil boy now she has shown all 3 of my kids her Great
grandchildren. she is proud of the history and that she helped support our
country.

We are proud of you Grandma (Pauline Tyree) .

Feel free to contact me if you want to chat with her about the picture and
her story thank you.

                                                         Troy Hernandez

*****

Hello to all!
I served aboard LST 1148 for three years, from 1962-1965. My billet (job)
was First Lieutenant.  The First Lieutenant aboard an LST was responsible
for the amphibious operations and the maintenance of about 60% of the ship.
I ended up serving a short time in Vietnam aboard LST 1148 before my
obligated time was up.
First of all, I'd like to congratulate and thank anyone who had anything to
do with LSTs --- whereever that might have been.  The LST had tremendous
capabilities --- I was still learning some of the finer details of the LST
even after being aboard for 3 years.  We  went through some of the worst
weather Mother Nature can throw at us and survived, and we did it with a
crew whose average age was probably about 20. We couldn't have done that if
the ships weren't built well.
For this purpose, I'd like to relate some of the things these ships could
do.  When you get aboard the 325, you might look for some of these things.
The Tank Deck was really the payload for an LST.  Aboard LST 1148, we did
many, many things with that Tank Deck.  For instance, we supported a SEAL
(Sea, Air, and Land) unit for a two-week exercise, we carried a unit with
all of their equipment (including a helocopter) to the Aleutian Islands for
a classified test, in Vietnam the Coast Guard used the Tank Deck to support
their 89-foot cutters patroling the coast, we naturally carried tanks and
trucks for the Army, we carried dry cargo across the Pacific to support the
buildup in Vietnam.  During World War II, the LST tank decks were used to
carry injured back to England for hospitalization.  My favorite picture of
the loading of an LST shows two railroad tracks running through the bow door
onto the tank deck.  Someone must have carried a railroad car!  Look for the
snaking winch, at the back of the Tank Deck.  It was seldom used, but gave
an LST the capability of cranking aboard a broken down vehicle on the beach.
Look for the vents --- the two intakes are forward, and the three blowers
are aft just forward of the superstructure.  The system allowed fresh air to
circulate in the tank deck and that was critical, for obvious purposes.  The
system was perfected at Fort Knox, KY and the building used for that purpose
is still there (It's right next to the Burger King at Fort Knox!)
Make sure you find out how the stern anchor winch worked, how an LST
carried causeways, how the ballasting worked before beaching, etc.  Check
out the berthing areas and see if they'd pass today's habitability
standards!!  The 325 has widened the ladders and reduced the angles where
the public will be visiting, so it will be relatively easy to get around.
Let your guide know why you're there --- maybe they can slant the tour
toward that.  Plan to spend some time in the Wardroom, if possible.  There
are some great mementoes in there.  Spend some time talking with one of the
Gold Crew --- they'll be in khaki uniforms.  That's the group that brought
LST 325 back from Greece (average age 72, and that was two years ago!)
There's a group that can spend some serious time telling stories!
Fascinating, for all ages.
I'm a member of the Blue Crew and plan to be aboard when we arrive in
Evansville.  If you end up in my tour group, you don't have to ask me too
many of those detailed questions --- remember, it's been over 40 years!!
Hope to see you aboard in Evansville.

Terry Leahy; Beloit, WI


 

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