Historic WWII ship docks in Vicksburg

Courtesy: KNOE
Courtesy: KNOE(KNOE)
Published: Oct. 7, 2016 at 6:19 PM CDT
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A historic World War II tank landing ship, LST 325, is docking in Vicksburg until Tuesday morning. The ship is fully functioning and open to the public for tours before sailing back to its home port in Evansville, Indiana.

"It's a floating museum, [with] static displays.... Your feet on that ship, it just makes you feel good," says volunteer on LST 325 and WWII veteran, Irwin Kuhns.

The 74-year-old ship holds history from all over the world. From being built in the U.S., to storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, to once being commissioned for the Greek Navy, LST 325 is now preserved to teach people about a time many can't remember.

"I find out that some people can't forget about World War II because they don't know a thing about it," Kuhns says.

Kuhns spent three years aboard an LST as a Navy coxswain during WWII, transporting troops from the LST's smaller Higgins boats to shore for combat.

Kuhns says everything he saw back then, he will never forget.

"We had shirts or no shirts. We did what we had to do. It wasn't spit, polish, inspection - nothing like that. Just 'do what you're supposed to do' and it was okay," Kuhns says.

Life aboard an LST was not luxurious. Navy sailors and Marines slept on cots lining the side of the boat and spent much of their time preparing for possible combat.

The LST boats were the first of their kind able to beach onshore for tanks and troops to roll out on land, and LST 325 could hold up to twenty tanks.

The Higgins boats were held on the side of the LST to bring out more soldiers for combat.

"Your feet on that ship, it makes you feel good. It's not like a movie. It's not like all that. You actually do it, you're here, you're stomping on it where thousands of troops and people walked these decks. Just think about it, a lot of blood was spilt on these decks," Kuhns says.

LST 325 only makes two stops a year before porting in Evansville, Indiana, where many LST boats were built during WWII.