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Friday, May 23, 2008

"Build up to M-Day", LST Tribute

There is an old ship that helped in the victory of the U.S. in World War Two. You will recall the many post’s about the Vets For Freedom tour in Evansville, Indiana where this ship is now docked. Part 1 of the VFF tour here. And several more can be found here. here.

This particular ship was saved from the scrap yard in Greece by a group of dedicated sailors with the support of thousands of veterans and corporations.

Ok, so imagine a bunch of senior citizens, veterans of WWII, former sailors 60 years ago who went to Greece to pick up this old ship, make it sea worthy, sail it back to the United States and then travel around various places here to show it off. No problem for these fine men.

The ship had all the comforts of home, a kitchen, a place to sleep when you were off watch, old but dependable engines and generators that worked sort of even though these men didn’t have spare parts. To top it off the gyro was broken and Greece is a long way from home. Can you believe their dedication and commitment?

Believe it! Read on, visit their website, and give your support; LST-325 Memorial . Thank you for your service gentlemen! Welcome home.

LST’s are commonly referred to as the “work horses” of the U.S. Navy for good reason.

The tradition of hard work, long hours, hazardous duty and tough men continued in Vietnam with 61 LST’s serving in various capacities earning a total of 395 Battle Stars, 19 Presidential Unit Citations, 48 Navy Unit Citations, and 44 Meritorious Unit Citations; LST's in Vietnam

A number of LST’s served with the Mobile Riverine Forces in and around the Mekong Delta, and it was not uncommon for us to see LST’s in Danang Harbor, in fact, quite often the LST’s would offload material and supplies there which were then loaded aboard our LCU’s destined for the Marines in Hue, Phu Bai, and Dong Ha.

There were many LST’s that served with distinction and several of them received battle damage in various operations during the Vietnam war. Perhaps the best known of these was the U.S.S. Westchester County, LST-1167.

Here is her story. Additional information here.

There is more about the “River Ships” of the Brown Water Navy here.

Brown Water, Red Blood.

All of us who served on the waterways of Vietnam can remember these ships moving slowly up and down the rivers keeping us supplied with food, ammo, parts, medical support, and fuel. The LST’s of Vietnam were one of many components that served in-country under very harsh, and often boring conditions; though like most in-country Navy units, they received very little recognition for a job well done. Most people back home at that time didn’t even know the Navy served in-country Vietnam, much less on the rivers.

Even today when talking with people, if you mention that you served in the Navy in Vietnam, they ask what Carrier, or Cruiser. When you reply, "I served on the brown waters (on the rivers) in-country Vietnam or attached to one of the Naval Task Forces, or in direct support of the Army or Marine Corps, " they look at you and more then likely say, "I was unaware the Navy served in-country during the War."

To those of you that served aboard LST’s or on other ships and boats in all our wars, we will never forget you.

Welcome home.

“…fair winds and a following sea shipmates…”