Visit by World War II vessel shows importance of history, tourism

Published 9:20 am Thursday, October 13, 2016

Residents of Vicksburg and visitors to our city certainly understand how steeped in history our community is.

This week, Vicksburg had an added historic attraction in the form of the USS LST 325, which was open to tours from Friday through Tuesday.

And visitors it got. More than 5,000 people — 185 of those students — made their way through the vessel, which was docked at the city’s riverfront.

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The USS LST 325 is a World War II tank landing ship, which has been decommissioned, but lovingly restored and is now docked in Evansville, Ind., on the Ohio River.

Officials with the floating museum piece said mainly older people are interested in the ship’s history. However, Kenneth Frank, who is president of the USS LST Ship Memorial Inc.’s Board of Directors, seems to be happiest to see students and teachers come on board.

“It was a nice turnout of the schools and some of the teachers came really prepared with lesson plans and questions,” Frank said.

Visitors seem flabbergasted when they see the size of the ship and see how well preserved it is.

“It’s so well preserved for being 74 years old,” he said.

Proceeds from the ship’s visit will go to fund its continued maintenance and preservation, as well as pay for fuel.

Frank said when traveling the vessel burns 1,200 gallons per day. When docked in Evansville, it uses almost 200 gallons a day simply to operate its onboard generators.

The vessel travels, thanks to a volunteer crew of military veterans, many of whom actually served on vessels like the LST 325.

Because of the efforts of those volunteers, and others who help make certain the vessel is maintained well, an important part of history lives on.