A Welder’s Daughter’s Emotional Journey as She Watches LST 325’s Current Voyage

I always knew that my mother was a welder in the shipyards during WWII. I didn’t know until 6 years ago that it was the LSTs that she welded. Today, as I watch the LST 325’s East Coast Voyage progress, I am so proud to have a connection with a type of ship that was instrumental in preserving our freedom.

(PRWEB) May 24, 2005 -- On May 17, 2005, LST 325 left Mobile, Alabama and started it’s East Coast Voyage to Alexandria, Virginia and other ports in Massachusetts. It has a crew of 40, including eight crewmembers who were part of the crew that sailed LST 325 back from Crete to Mobile four years ago.

When I was young, I knew that my mother and two aunts were welders in the Dravo, Neville Island shipyard in Pittsburgh during World War II because my mother would occasionally talk about it. It wasn’t until 1999, when Lester Parker, a former crew member of LST 743, invited my mother and aunts to an LST 743 reunion banquet being held in Pittsburgh that I realized how proud she was to have welded LSTs.

After listening to my mother talk about the reunion, I decided that I would write a book about the women welders. The book started out to be a book about women. But as I received letters from men who served aboard the LSTs in World War II and Korea, it evolved into a much broader story.

After the British evacuation of Dunkirk, Winston Churchill recognized the need for the ship that became know as the LST. The LST was specifically designed to land on the beaches of Africa and Europe. During WWII, 1,051 LSTs were constructed in U.S. shipyards. Forty were lost in WWII, which is less than 4 percent of the ships built. It was a well-designed and well-built ship.

My research took me to several Internet websites, including the one for LST 325, www.lstmemorial.org. In fact, as a result of LST 325’s visit to Evansville, Indiana in the summer of 2003, I was able to locate a few more women who were welders at the Evansville shipyard. Today, I am a member of this non-profit corporation. As I sit at my computer in Portland, Oregon, it is exciting to read the posts on the website about the ship’s progress and to even view its progress by going to http://www.shiptrak.org/?callsign=WW2LST.

LST 325 will arrive in Alexandria, Virginia and be open to the public on May 26, 2005. She will depart on the evening of May 30, 2005. She will be open to the public at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy from June 4th through June 7th, the Charlestown Navy Yard from June 9 through June 19th, and the USCG Station in Gloucester, MA on June 21st. A more detailed itinerary is located at www.lstmemorial.org.

While in port, the ship will be open to the public for tours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm. Admission prices are $5 for children, $10 for adults and $20 for families (mother, father and children under 18). The proceeds are used to defray the expenses of restoration, maintenance and the voyage.

LST 325 is the only operational museum ship of its type. Her East Coast Voyage coincides with the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. I encourage you to visit the LST 325 in Alexandria or at one of its Massachusetts ports. You will gain a great respect for the LSTs, for those who served on them, and for those who built them. You will begin to feel the dedication the WWII crewmembers had for what they affectionately called their “Large Slow Targets.” A dedication that continues to this day.

Kathleen Thomas is author of the book, “Don’t Call Me Rosie, the Women who Welded the LSTs and the Men who Sailed on Them.”

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/5/prweb243907.htm