The guys and I made a spontaneous trip into Cincinnati today after reading a news article about the USS LST 325 being docked for just a few days on the waterfront. We are studying WWII history this year and there is nothing like being able to walk through history rather than just reading about it.
Our afternoon began by parking near the Newport Levee in Kentucky and walking across the Ohio River into Ohio on the Purple People Bridge. This bridge was such a great way of connecting both sides of the waterfront in a family friendly way.
The USS LST 325
The USS LST 325 was the 325th Landing Ship, Tank built during and utilized during World War II. It is recorded that there were only a little more than 1,000 of these vessels built for use during WWII. More of this particular type of ship were made for use during the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts. The USS LST 325 is regularly docked in Evansville, IN, and can be toured there when in port.
The USS LST 325 is the last operational Landing Ship, Tank from World War II. This actual ship was utilized on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Being able to go aboard, talk with servicemen, and actually see the different areas of the ship were all incredible. It was especially significant to meet this veteran who was on board today who were among our servicemen that fought in World War II.
We entered the ship through the lower hull that would have been opened to allow the troops to storm the beach on that fateful day. Immediately, we were hit with the difference in temperature and lack of ventilation in this area. The space the quite large allowing the boys to imagine tanks and other larger pieces of equipment that would have been shipped in this area. During our visit, this specific space had a variety of educational exhibits. There were hatches open into side areas that contained storage of equipment, small artillery, and work areas as well as hatches in the floors to show the engine room.
The guys were able to see many functional areas of the ship to give them a glimpse into what life on this vessel would be like.
I think they were all in agreement that the hardest part might have been exchanging their beds for a bunk as an enlisted soldier. The thought of trying to sleep in these small quarters with so many other men on a bunk that swayed with each tossing of the waves was almost too much to fathom. Our thoughts had always been focused on the courage and strength soldiers exhibit on the battlefront. However, there are many other areas that we gained new respect for these men that choose to serve our nation.
As we went up on the top deck, it was amazing to see just how large a Landing Ship, Tank really is. In looking at the jeeps and other equipment in respect to the total size of the ship allowed us to get a better feel for its overall size. And to just think that this was considered to be a relatively small flat bottomed boat that was used only for small distances in order to maneuver up on to beaches.
Being able to talk with one of the veterans who is hosting this tour, our sons were enthralled by the canons and shells that were shot from them. This particular canon could shoot off 120 rounds per minute of the shells seen in this picture. It would take four men to fully operate this piece of weaponry.
We could not have a more wonderful day weather-wise to walk along the riverfront or visit this piece of American history. I am sure that our soldiers that were on that ship saw all kinds of weather, sickness, and experienced fears and loneliness that we did not experience today. I find myself struggling with the reality of the ship that we walked upon being on the front lines of battle. Sadly, it is just as hard for our boys to imagine life with America not at war. They do not personally know the horrors or loss of war. They do not understand how war has changed in so many ways since those days in the early 1940s. However, it is still saddens me that our young people are growing believing that war is the norm.
I am thankful for all our servicemen who have fought valiantly for the freedoms that we enjoy today. My prayer is that as a nation we will turn back to the One True God so that we will once again become a nation at peace both in this world and also with God.