EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Thursday marks a milestone for the D-Day invasion in 1944.
Troops were storming the beaches of France 75 years ago and Evansville has an important piece of that day floating on the Ohio River. LST 325 was carrying some of those men to battle.
“They built 1,051 of these and this is the last one left anywhere in the world still operating as a LST of this class. This is it there is no more," said Jack Stephenson, a World War II Navy Veteran and part of the LST 325′s crew. Stephenson served in the Pacific theater during the war, but knows all about the LST and its role.
“When we were at Okinawa I seen at least 100 of these lined up side by side on the beaches unloading side by side. Now that’s something to see," Stephenson said.
Owen Chapman serves as the chief cook for the LST and has been a member of the crew for five years. He says that having an active ship serve as a museum gives a unique peek into the 1944.
“You just learn so much more coming to see the ship than trying to read it in books," Chapman said. "As I like to say, you walk the decks of history.”
The 325 made 44 trips between England and France during June and July of 1944, carrying ammunition and supplies to the mainland, while bringing back wounded.
“Sit back and reflect on if you were 19-20 years old and you were going out that door not knowing whether you were going to live or die," said Chapman.
“Thousands of guys in the Pacific and the Atlantic on these LSTs, when they went out the front doors of these onto the beaches , this was the last thing American they ever saw," Stephenson said.
After the war, the 325 was given to Greece where it remained until it was decommissioned and brought back to become the Maritime War Museum.
“That’s very meaningful and it needs to be respected and remembered," said Chapman.