LST Conjures Up Memories for Local Vet

When LST 325 arrives in Evansville next month, it will be a reunion for a veteran who had a World War II encounter with the ship. It's a memory the veteran has not talked about until now.

Then-18-year-old John Osborne had seen just about everything while serving during World War II. The young soldier had a brush with the legendary General Patton, a memory he says he'll never forget. But there are some memories the 74-year-old says he'd forgotten for years, until now... apparently triggered by his encounter with the LST.

Clearer than the pictures that conjure up the memory. John Osborne remembers his brush with the great LST in late 1944.

"I seen down inside the ship where they normally carry tanks and all kinds of trucks and equipment. It was just full of troops," Osborne said.

The army truck driver was ordered to pick up some of the more than 700 troops from a sunken American ship. They were rescued and brought to the French port of Cheroburgh by an LST crew. But that memory wasn't always so vivid to the World War II vet.

After seeing the ship on Newswatch and reading an article in a AAA magazine, something dawned on John.

"This particular one that's coming back is the one that I hauled the troops off of that was rescued off of this troop ship," Osborne said.

Osborne's wife Pearl says her husband never talked much about the war, but she says LST 325 re-opened a window into John's life she'd never seen. After 57 years of marriage, this couple just discovered they both shared a history with the LST.

"I'm all enthused because I had seen one of these christened about 60 feet from it," Pearl said. "So it made it more interesting for me because they were built here."

The couple can't wait to relive history when their newly found common bond returns to Evansville.

"I just wanted to see it," Osborne said. "It will bring back a lot of memories, some of them good, some of them bad. But it's something in my past that I want to see again."

Osborne says he wasn't sure exactly when he had his run-in with the LST, but he thought it was late 1944. It turns out he was right. We did some checking and found on December 28 of that year, the LST helped rescue 700 men from the troop transport Empire Javelin after the ship had been torpedoed.