Evansville is home to a rare piece of World War II history drawing visitors from around the world. The USS LST-325 is the last fully functional World War II LST warship in existence and sits docked near Marina Pointe off of LST Drive.
In early June, the LST-325 attracted retired San Diego husband and wife John and Joyce Sunde, who traveled from California to Evansville to see the warship. John Sunde retired from the U.S. Navy and fought in Vietnam, where he experienced life as a soldier on an LST firsthand.
“They’ve done such a good job with this. Being back on an LST again, I’ll tell you, I didn’t miss it one bit,” says Sunde, who volunteers as a docent on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier docked in San Diego.
After checking in for the tour, which is roughly 60 minutes long and runs daily in the summer months on the hour with the last tour at 3 p.m., Evansville resident and LST-325 tour guide Andrew Loucks led a group of eight from the gift shop across the dock and onto the World War II vessel. Loucks narrated the history of the LST-325 from its beginning at a Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1942 to later making 44 trips between England and France during 1944 and 1945.
“LSTs were workhorses,” says Loucks, who is a disabled Air Force veteran and works three days a week giving tours. “They are the reason we won the war.”
Made exclusively for beach landings, there were 1,051 LSTs built during the war. After only losing 40, the warships were later used in Vietnam and in nuclear testing. The LST-325 escaped this fate by serving in the Greek Navy from 1964 to 1999. Evidence of its Greek past can be seen on various walls of the ship including a painting of Achilles, a Greek hero in the Trojan War. During the guided visit, guests experience the main deck, troop berthing area, tank deck, mess deck, galley, stern, wheelhouse, officer’s country, and the captain’s cabin. Tours are available in Evansville 11 months of the year. During September this year, the LST travels to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
If you decide to visit the LST-325, remember to wear comfortable shoes for walking and climbing three sets of stairs. Don’t miss the 1954 M-170 U.S. Army Jeep, which was used as a prop in the TV movie “M*A*S*H” or the Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP), also known as Higgins boats, that were used in the Clint Eastwood film “Flags of Our Fathers,” both located on the LST.
For more information about the LST Memorial 325, call 812-435-8678 or visit lstmemorial.org.