- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A World War II troop landing ship with aging veterans lining the deck chugged up the Ohio River on Monday on its way to a new assignment as part of a war history museum.

The LST 325, its paint faded and seams rusted, rounded a bend in the river at 11 knots and slowed to a creep as several hundred people watched from the banks, many holding American flags.

“It was something I didn’t think would ever happen. It’s unbelievable,” said Dewey Taylor, 80, of West Palm Beach, Fla., who sailed on an LST in the Pacific when he was 17.

Evansville was among nine cities that competed to become the permanent home for the LST 325, which had been moored in Mobile, Ala., since veterans made a 6,400-mile journey to bring the ship back from Greece in 2001.

The group that operates the ship decided on Evansville in December.

“It feels like it’s part of me. You just get to know it and really connect with it,” said Dan Molzahn, 79, of LaCrosse, Wis., who sailed on the LST 325 when he was 17. He said LSTs helped the Allies win World War II.

“If it wasn’t for the LST getting supplies and men to the war front, the war would have lasted another couple of years,” he said.

The LST 325 was launched Oct. 27, 1942. It landed on the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion of Europe and made 43 more trips across the English Channel, ferrying troops and equipment to soldiers pushing to break the German stronghold on Western Europe.

It also helped British and American combat units launch an invasion on Sicily.

“This ship saw a lot of action,” said Capt. Robert Jornlin, of Earlville, Ill., as he stepped off the ship.

City officials hope that history translates into tourism, drawing thousands of military history buffs and other visitors to southern Indiana.

The ship’s arrival in Evansville was a homecoming of sorts. The LST 325, which was built in Philadelphia, is nearly identical to 167 ships constructed at an Evansville shipyard during the war.

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