By Ethan Colbert
A handful of Pike County and Lincoln County area residents turned out Wednesday morning as the USS LST-325, a ship known for her involvement in D-Day, cruised past the Missouri shoreline bound for its next port of call in Chester, Illinois.
The LST-325 was commissioned during the height of World War II, according to historical records from the U.S. Navy. The ship, which hauled tank crews and machinery, and her crew saw action in the invasions of Gela, Sicily, and Salerno, Italy.
According to historians, the three-day invasion of Gela, Sicily, was the opening engagement by America and her allies to liberate the island nation of Sicily. The invasion and subsequent liberation of Sicily are best known by their code-name, “Operation Husky.”
Following the invasion of Sicily, the USS LST-325 also saw action in the aforementioned invasion of Salerno, Italy, where over a period of 14 days more than 189,000 American service men and allied military members invaded the area in and around Salerno.
Following the invasion of Salerno, the USS LST-325 served as a medical transport, moving wounded military men from conflict areas to a friendly port for medical treatment.
Then, on June 6, 1944, the USS LST-325 was part of the famed D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. According to military records, the ship carried 59 vehicles, 30 officers and a total of 396 enlisted men on that first trip.
Over the next nine months of the war, the USS LST-325 made more than 40 trips across the English Channel.
The USS LST-325 was decommissioned on July 2, 1946.
Since then, the USS LST-325 participated in a foreign-aid effort to Greece from 1964 to 1999.
In 2000, a group of former military men purchased the decommissioned ship and returned her to the United States, where the ship received extensive repairs.
Following the repairs, the USS LST-325 has been open to the public at various ports of call along the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys.
According to press reports from 2003, at a 10-day stop in Evansville, Indiana, more than 35,000 people toured the restored ship.
Since October 1, 2005, the USS LST-325 has made her home in Evansville, though she does visit other ports each year. This year, the former military ship made stops in Dubuque, Iowa, Bettendorf, Iowa, and Chester, Illinois.