EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Dozens of volunteers have started a week of intense maintenance work on the restored World War II troop landing ship that is docked on the Ohio River.
About 60 volunteers spent much of Saturday taking on chores during the kickoff to the annual USS LST Ship Memorial "Spring Work Week."
The work crew included several World War II veterans who served on ships similar to the LST-325 that was brought back to the U.S. from Greece in 2001 and has been permanently moored in Evansville since 2005, the Evansville Courier & Press reported (http://bit.ly/ITfoYa).
"I guess you could call it a labor of love as much as anything," said 86-year-old Bruce Voges of St. Joseph, Ill. "All of us went over there with a mission, most of us in our 70s — we wanted one of them things back in the U.S. We've got battleships, destroyers, cruisers, but we did not have an LST."
Some volunteers concentrated on chipping off old paint in the tank deck, an area which would've carried 20 Sherman Tanks during the war, and applying a new coat of paint.
Volunteers will spend most of the week painting the interior, but if they have time and weather permits, they will paint exterior parts of the ship as well.
Engineering crew volunteers will spend much of the week in the engine room fine tuning the ship's mechanical parts, electrical wiring and plumbing. Repairs are also planned for three of the ship's ballast tanks.
Repair work is decided through a maintenance committee within the memorial association that determines which jobs are most important, according to deck officer Bob Barbier.
The LST-325 was part of the second wave of the D-Day invasion in June 1944 and made 44 other trips between France and Great Britain and other ports before the war ended. While this one was built in Philadelphia, many other LSTs were constructed at a Jeffersonville shipyard upriver from Evansville.
The LST-325 is open for public guided tours and organizers plan a multi-city tour starting in September to raise money.