(Aurora, Ind.) - A ship that once stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II will rest on the shores of Aurora this weekend.
The LST 325 is scheduled to arrive at the Aurora Ferry landing at around noon Thursday. The warship was initially scheduled to arrive at about 8:00 a.m., but fog on the Ohio River Thursday morning has delayed its passage through the Markland Dam and Locks.
The 4,080 ton landing ship tank, hence LST, will be open for public tours Friday through Sunday. Military and veterans events are scheduled through the weekend at Aurora’s Lesko Park.
Commissioned in February 1943, the Navy USS LST 325 transported soldiers and equipment in Europe during the second world war. It earned two gold stars for its service before being decommissioned in 1946.
“On June 6, 1944 – D-Day – it was one of the LSTs that actually went ashore at Omaha Beach at Normandy and made several trips back and forth across the English Channel,” said P.G. Gentrup, a local veterans advocate who is among those who led the effort to bring the LST to Aurora. “On that day when it went in it had over 800 troops on it and several tanks. I believe if this ship could talk it would have some really, really good stories to tell us.”
“It’s important to preserve pieces of American history like this and make sure people know the history of the ship,” Gentrup said.
Through a series of events which included being transferred to Greece in 1964, the ship has survived being scrapped. In 2000, it was acquired from Greece by the USS LST Memorial Inc., a Pennsylvania not-for-profit corporation.
Because of the way the ship was built and designed to bring people and equipment ashore, it can navigate through very shallow waters such as those sometimes found on the Ohio River.
“In the front of the ship it can draw only about three feet, and eight feet in the back,” Gentrup said.
The LST 325 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places at its home port in Evansville, Indiana.
Eagle 99.3 will be broadcasting live from the LST 325 Thursday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
The ship will be open for public tours Friday through Sunday. More information on the LST's visit can be found at www.lstvisitsaurora.com.