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