This past Saturday morning, my dad and I ventured over to Decatur to tour LST 325, a Navy boat that landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in World War II. The boat is the only operational vehicle remaining from WWII; there are other vehicles from this time period around, but they are non-operational. The boat was docked in Ingalls Harbor in Decatur from Thursday, September 4 - Tuesday, September 9.
The tours began at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and we arrived around 8:40 a.m. There were already quite a few folks in line when we got there. A gentleman who served in WWII on a battleship was in line behind us. He served the country in the waters of the northern Pacific ocean and never actually saw battle, which I'd say was very good luck for him.
The folks working on the boat actually started letting us in a few minutes before nine. The cost was $10 for adults and $5 for children, all of which go to the restoration of the boat, which is now called a memorial. The lower deck where we entered had various radios, equipment and uniforms used by soldiers on display. They also had a Jeep from the era which also happened to be used on the show MASH. They had replicas of the sand tables which the soldiers studied so they would know the lay of the land without (in theory) needing a map. Along the railing as you entered as well as in other places throughout the boat were pictures of the boat in action and sailors who served, I thought all of these were very interesting.
The other decks included the places where the sailors would have slept and also the barracks where the army guys would have slept if the boat was transporting them somewhere. We walked past the kitchen and the captains quarters and also the wheelhouse. The tour lasted about an hour, maybe a little less and covered all decks of the ship. We even got to try our hand at what it would be like to work one of the guns on the top deck. There were lots of people in line to get in when we wrapped up our tour. I was glad to see so many people come out to see this old war boat. It was a very interesting tour and it was great that we were able to experience this little bit of American history before it left the shores of Northern Alabama.