Let’s work to show why Evansville
is best place for LST 325

By DAVID COKER
Special to the Courier & Press
Sunday August 3, 2003

The recent visit of LST 325 to the shores of the city of Evansville brought
with it lots of memories --  stories of  valor on the high seas and
personal anecdotes of those who worked on the waterfront building these
amazing vessels during World War II.

Amid all the color, the brass bands, flag waving, and the enormous
outpouring of support and interest in this historic craft was the lingering
question: "Could we really bring it back someday to permanently display
on the Evansville waterfront?

The answer to that question is an irrefutable yes, and here is how it could
happen.

Among the materials available from the USS LST Ship Memorial
organization (web site:www.lstmemorial.org) was a little brochure that had
one section headlined “How can I help?”

After describing how donations can
be made to the tax-exempt foundation, the brochure goes on to say:

“Volunteers are always welcome on the LST.  There is no need for sailing
experience or special skills, a will to work and a positive attitude are all that
is required . . .There  is always a need for welders, pipefitters, electricians,
plumbers, etc. the list goes on and on.”

Ann Adams, a resident of Greenville, Ohio  was a volunteer on the ship
while it was docked in Evansville Her father, Marion Adams, served on an LST 491
which was launched in Evansville in 1943 and saw action in Normandy, the invasion
of southern France and the assult on Okinawa in 1944 and 1945.

According to Adams,  after this excursion  the ship will be docked in
Chickasaw, Alabama north of Mobile.  Volunteers are welcomed to participate
in the restoration.  One need only contact the organization in advance to let
them know of your availability and the level of skill you have to contribute.

So here is the idea -- let’s organize between 25 and 50 experienced
volunteers from the area to go down to Alabama and build up some “sweat
equity” in the restoration of this ship.  Painters, electricians, welders, other
with experience in the building trades -- dedicate themselves to serving two
weeks each spring to perform maintenance and restoration projects that are
needed in all areas of the ship.  If you took a tour, you know there is much to
do.

If these people are willing to volunteer their services, they should not be
expected to survive on a diet of locusts and wild honey.   Therefore,  it might
be nice if  some local civic leaders would raise some private financial
contributions to pay for their transportation, food and lodging while they are
working aboard the ship.

Were this to become an annual event, after several years the elderly veterans
who heroically brought this historic vessel back from the Hellenic Navy
would realize that we mean business when it comes to docking this beautiful
craft on the Evansville waterfront.  Once the restoration is completed, they
would be hard pressed to deny this community the earned right to display
LST 325 as a permanent, historic fixture on Evansville's waterfront.
 
If we are serious about getting this craft permanently displayed here, no
amount of  money, lobbying or cajoling by local elected officials or corporate
executives will ever make it happen.

But a concerted effort on the part of skilled volunteers and others who realize
what a unique opportunity this poses for this community should be happy to
answer the call -- just as the thousands of area residents who first built these
amazing ships so many years ago.

David Coker is a local free-lance writer. His email address is
oldcars55@aol.com