Even those who are not well-educated on the happenings of D-Day may be familiar with the iconic image of the landing ship sending out LCVPs to carry soldiers onto the shores and into the chaos of the battle. Now, such a vehicle is open for tours in Decatur, Alabama. This vehicle is in fact the last remaining landing ship to be completely intact, and many veterans of the war have already participated in the tours.
The vehicle in question has been dubbed the USS LST Memorial 325, and it is the only one of its kind remaining out of more than one thousand that were manufactured for use in the Second World War. It is now a floating museum, where visitors may go to learn more about the war and the utility of such vehicles as the landing ship tank, or LST. This particular vessel is now available for viewing in Decatur, but this is not the only location in which tours have been offered. In fact, the USS LST Memorial 325 travels around the United States, enabling visitors in many locations to take advantage of the education it has to offer.
Some of the crew members who manage the tours have a personal connection with the subject matter. One crew member, Terry Tull, served on a similar vessel during the Vietnam War. There are nearly four dozen crew members aboard the landing ship, many (though not all) of them veterans of one war or another. They are therefore accustomed to the manner of living that is required to serve aboard such a craft.
The LST 325 was first commissioned long before it was used in the invasion of Normandy. Although D-Day took place in 1944, the craft was first built in 1942. In other words, although images of D-Day have made the landing ship iconic, they were in service for some time before the invasion took place. This particular LST was actually given away to the Greek navy in 1963, where it was christened as “Syros.” In 2001, the United States reacquired it from a scrap yard before turning it into a memorial museum, the AL.com reports.
When not on tour, the landing ship is moored in Evansville, Indiana. Tours are generally conducted during the summer months. Although many of the crew members are veterans, there are also many civilians on board. Many are volunteers, who simply wish to relive an experience while also educating the public about the importance of the landing ship in history. Many who tour the vessel do so for similar reasons, though there are also many other visitors, including schoolchildren, who simply wish to learn.