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Local veterans tour U.S. Navy Landing Ship Tank

MADISON – Local veterans were the guests of honor during a recent visit of a historic naval vessel that operated during World War II.

The sole remaining U.S. Navy Landing Ship Tank or LST configured for World War II operation made a port-of-call in Decatur from Aug. 29 to Sept. 3. The LST-325 has its home base in Evansville, Ind. with the LST Ship Memorial Inc.

“During its visit, the LST was berthed at the old Ingalls Shipyard (now Ingalls Harbor) allowing visitors of all ages the opportunity to tour the vessel that was also a veteran of the D-Day Normandy Invasion in June 1944,” Richard Blanton said. Blanton serves as Historian for Madison American Legion, Post 229.

The LST-325 was commissioned on Feb. 1, 1943. She served in the European Theater and was part of the invasion forces at Sicily; Salerno, Italy; and Normandy, France for D-Day and beyond.

During that operation, 171 U.S. LSTs were active. The LST-325 is the ONLY landing ship tank that was configured for World War II that remains in operation today. “This historical ship relies on private donations and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to function,” Blanton said.

“Also present on the opening day tours on Aug. 29 were five local combat veterans of the Forever Young Senior Veterans organization; four World War II veterans; and one Vietnam War veteran,” Blanton said. Two of the World War II veterans, Harold McMurran and Sherwin Callender, also are members of Madison American Legion, Post 229.

“Additional veterans of the Forever Young Senior Veterans group were also honored on each of the five additional days the vessel’s visit in Decatur,” Blanton said.

The mission of Forever Young Senior Veterans is to honor, heal and give hope to World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans in the Mid-South. Services include taking veterans on military trips worldwide to war memorials and to places where they fought or served, as well as granting lifelong wishes to them, Blanton said.

Since 2006, Forever Young Senior Veterans has honored 2,200 veterans with more than 40 Trips of Honor. The organization also has granted more than 300 individual wishes.

For more information, visit the Forever Young Senior Veterans website at foreveryoungvets.org. Their postal address is Forever Young Senior Veterans, P.O. Box 1381, Collierville, IN 38027 or call 901-299-7516.

For information about American Legion, Post 229, call 256-258-8534, email Ajutant@americanlegionpost229.org or visit americanlegionpost229.org. Post 229’s regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Lunar Lodge, 740 Eastview Drive in Madison.

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