A World War II Landing Ship Tank is voyaging up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers for the next couple weeks in a historical expedition. The LST 325, a ship that was on Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy, is making ports-of-call in Peoria, Henry and Alton before returning to its home port in Evansville, Ind. This is the first time an LST ship has been on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers since they were sent to war in the 1940s.
"The LST 325 brings a wealth of history up the river," said Robert Jornlin, the LST captain. "Not only did Illinois veterans serve on LST ships during WWII, many of the LST ships were built in Seneca."
The LST was designed to land battle-ready tanks, troops and supplies directly onto enemy shores. Ships of this type proved to be useful during times of war and peace. This particular LST was acquired by The USS LST Ship Memorial, Inc., in 2000, and caught considerable public attention when the veteran crew brought it on a 6,500-mile journey from the Greek island of Crete to Mobile, Ala.
Along with representing America's past, the LST is representing America's future. This LST runs on biodiesel made from Illinois soybeans.
"The LST 325 protected America's freedom during WWII and now it's supporting our freedom from foreign oil," Jornlin added.
The LST 325 will be docked in Peoria through August 28, Henry from Aug. 30 – Sept. 4 and Alton from Sept. 7 – 11. It will be open to the public from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day except Sept. 11 (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.).
The ship operates through donations from private donors and volunteer workers. The trip is sponsored in part by the Illinois Soybean Association and Growmark. More information on the ship can be found at www.lstmemorial.org.