An old Navy vessel that was used at Normandy just after D-Day has arrived in La Crosse for a late summer visit.
The LST-325 traveled from the Genoa dam to La Crosse on Tuesday, and it will be on display here through Labor Day. Ken Rupp is cruise director for the ship, which is manned by Navy veterans, young and old.
“Many of these guys are reliving their childhood, so to speak,” said Rupp. “They get a chance to do things they never could do before, and it’s great to meet the people” who come to tour the ship.
The captain of the LST is Bob Kubota, who says the big ship was designed to carry tanks to battlefields during World War II.
“It was sized to hold 20 Sherman tanks, two rows of ten,” said Kubota. “That was the main battle tank of the time. So imagine a shoebox that’s gonna hold 20 Sherman tanks, and then everything else just fit around it.”
Kubota says almost all of the LST ships were dismantled decades ago. “After the Vietnam War, the United States Navy scrapped all of them out,” he says. “This one had been given away previously, there were several others given away.” He notes that an LST that was given to the Philippines was recently in the news in a dispute with China.
Public tours of the ship are scheduled from Thursday through Labor Day. The LST will have some company at Riverside Park during that time. The Viking cruise ship and the American Countess paddlewheeler both will stop in La Crosse between now and Monday.