Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A field trip

I know Country Sister has a few things that she envies about our dwelling place.  The main one is that we have easy access to a city and the many cultural and educational experiences that are in the area.  Because we home school, we make sure to take full advantage of as many opportunities as possible. 
Walking Across the Bridge

On Saturday, the whole family packed up and went to see a WWII LST, a large flat bottomed landing craft capable of taking over 40 mechanized vehicles and 200 troops to shore.  LST 325 was brought to Pittsburgh from Alabama via the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and to the mouth of the Allegheny River.

LST 325
  This particular craft served in the Atlantic theatre most notably with the invasions of Sicily and Normandy.  After service, it was sold to the Greek navy and then purchased by a private restoration group.  It took an act of Congress to bring it to America and was technically a pirate ship during the process since it did not sail under the flag of any country.
Greek Art...on a WWII Ship?

While in line to go through the bunk area, we had the good fortune to be in front of a group where the patriarch had been in a similar LST during the war.  Vince had donated to this particular ship, a set of items (pictured with the man himself, below.)  He and his daughter spoke at length with us about different happenings aboard, including sneaking food from the galley to the German POW's and fraternizing with the enemy while transporting the POW's back to the States.  Vince also conveyed to Hubby of how sleeping on the bottom of a stack of four bunks was a frightening experience because the chains that held them up commonly broke, especially in rough waters.  (Anything else to add Vince and Company?)

Vince of LST 177
I was also highly impressed with the volunteers and crew of the ship, who were willing to explain anything about the ship to the kids.  They were knowledgeable and passionate about the ship.  One man in particular, was at the hatch leading down to the auxiliary engine room.  He wanted to impress upon W. how deep the shaft was.  He dropped a monkey fist (a type of knot ball) down the hole with a rope attached.  He then looped the rope when the fist reached the bottom.  After hauling it back up, he threw the rope across the deck.  He also told me about a crew member, who at age 86 was still climbing down until they made a "senior" access point to the aux. engine room since the crew was aging. 

All around the ship there were reenactors dressed up in WWII gear with their Jeeps and other "toys."  Many of them had staged little vignettes such as this one.

On Top of a Jeep
I also have always thought it was funny that they called a German Grenade a "Potato Masher"
Not Your Average Potato Masher

Eventually, C. got tired and we had to walk back across the bridge to where we had parked.  Our field trip may have been over, but the learning never ends.

Walking Back


  1. I am Vince's other daughter and I just want to thank you for making my Dad's day. He is so proud of his NAVY momentos as well he should be. I remember I was a little girl when he organized the first LST 177 reunion and the many that followed for over 25 years. So many crew members have passed on but Dad will forever carry the memories of his "navy buddies" in his heart. He was so happy to find a place to donate his collection. And I am so happy he was able to visit the ship in Pittsburgh. I can just see him crawling under the rope to enter the display area and grinning. Thanks again

  2. We are in a large debt to your father and all the others that served. Our grandfather was also a Navy man as well. City Husband's late grandfather served on an LST as well. City Husband who is a principal, said that he spoke about your father today while teaching an 8th grade history class. Thank you very much!


Thanks for visiting with us girls...put your feet up and stay for a while.