The USS LST 325, used on D-Day to bring troops and equipment to storm the beach, is hosting tours in La Crosse this weekend.
A one-of-a-kind ship that helped turn the tide for the Allies will be open for visitors one weekend only in Wisconsin.
The USS LST 325 is permanently docked and open for tours in Evansville, Indiana. But once a year, crews take the last fully-functional ship of its kind out for a cruise.
LSTs were first used during World War II to help Allied forces invade areas held by the enemy.
Their specially-designed hulls and flat bottoms allowed them to run their bow directly onto beaches and unload cargo quickly, according to the United States LST Association. They could land on just about any type of shore.
LSTs were massive and could carry twenty Sherman tanks, in addition to 40 trucks, fuel, ammunition, supplies, and, of course, soldiers.
The LST makes its annual cruises to share its mission with more people. The ship is outfitted to look exactly as it did during WWII. Visitors can explore the main deck, troop berthing area, the tank deck, mess, galley, wheelhouse, officers’ areas, and the captain’s cabin. That’s possible thanks to a crew of about 50 volunteers.
“The average age of our crew today is 70 or 71 years old,” Chris Donahue, a member of the ship’s board of directors, explained. Many veterans who once volunteered onboard are no longer able to do so due to age. “We’ve got to have more youth injected.”
If You Go
The LST 325 will be docked along the Mississippi River from Aug. 31-Sept. 4 near downtown La Crosse’s Riverside Park.
Visitors will be able to tour the ship between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. It’s $15 for adults, $7 for children ages 6 to 17, and free for children 5 and younger.
Next, the ship will head south to Dubuque, Iowa, from Sept. 7-12 and Hannibal, Missouri from Sept. 15-18.
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