Ship that was part of D-Day invasion to make Vicksburg stop

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Vicksburg has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in the U.S.

Oct. 7 to 11, another spirit from the past will visit the River City at City Front, and residents will have an opportunity to get to know this one up front and personal.

USS LST 325, a restored World War II amphibious warship, will visit the city as part of a winter cruise down the Mississippi with stops at Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Vicksburg. It will be the ship’s second trip to Vicksburg; the last was in 2003.

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“We were planning the cruise, and some of the members had never been to Vicksburg,” said Jim Tuefel, board member with USS LST Ship Memorial Inc., which helped restore the ship. “We don’t do repeat visits unless it’s been five years or more, and they wanted to go to Vicksburg. We called the city, and they said, ‘Come on.’”

USS LST Ship Memorial Inc. was involved in restoring the ship. It raises funding to preserve the ship, and educates people on the role of the LST in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and preserves the memory of the ships and the countless men who died in battle while serving their country.

Volunteers with the organization crew the vessel on its voyages to different locations.

While in Vicksburg, visitors to the ship will be allowed to go on board and tour the vessel and look at its artifacts from other LSTs that participated in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

LST stands for landing ship tank; 328-foot long, 50-foot wide flat-bottomed ships, capable of running aground and discharging 600 troops or military vehicles like trucks, jeeps and tanks to roll directly out on a beach through front bottom-hinged door-ramps. The ships would run up on a beach as fast as they could, landing their bows in sand before releasing their cargo.

Commissioned Feb. 1, 1943, LST-325 sailed as part of the Northern Attack Force in support of the invasion at Salerno, Italy, carrying elements of the 40th Royal Tank Regiment, and later was part of Force “B”, the backup force for the troops going ashore at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. It anchored off Omaha Beach on June 7, and unloaded men onto smaller amphibious craft. The ship made further trips to the Normandy Coast and the city of Rouen on the Seine River.

The ship was transferred to Greece in May 1964 and renamed Syros. It served in the Greek Navy until December 1999 when it was decommissioned.

In 2000, LST 325 was acquired by The USS Ship Memorial Inc., and crossed the Atlantic, arriving in Mobile, Ala., in January 2001.

It is one of only two World War II LSTs to be preserved in the United States and is homeported at Evansville, Ind.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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