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WWII ship arrives in La Crosse, to stay through Labor Day weekend



An old Navy vessel that was used at Normandy just after D-Day has arrived in La Crosse for a late summer visit.

LST-325 stranded at low tide on 12 June 1944, while delivering materiel to the Normandy beachhead. (National Archives)

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.”

The interior of the LST-325 was designed to carry 20 Sherman tanks

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.

The WWII ship passes under the blue bridges on Tuesday as it heads into La Crosse

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.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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