I’m sending this letter on behalf of the USS LST Ship Memorial (LST 325) Board of Directors. It is meant to clarify the situation of the ongoing consideration of Peoria, Illinois, as a potential home port for the LST 325. First of all the USS LST Memorial is not pursuing Peoria. Peoria is pursuing the LST 325. We respond to any city that indicates an interest in hosting the ship. We talked with Jeffersonville IN, in the last year or so. This due diligence takes place every 10 years.
I also want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Mayor Lloyd Winnecke for his support of the ship in recent years. We’ve seen more involvement by his administration than any administration in our 8 years in Evansville. When we asked for indoor winter storage for two large Higgins Boats, trailers and vehicles, the Mayor provided it. When I requested to have the barge, which is actually the dock we are tied up to, painted, he got that done on short notice while the ship was away on its annual fund raising cruise in September. Then, when the Ship arrived back in Evansville on September 23rd, we witnessed a fabulous reception of the Evansville citizens waving flags along the riverfront along with a flotilla of boats escorting us, a firing howitzer, and the Fire Dept bagpipes. It doesn’t get any better than that. And this was all orchestrated by the Mayor’s office and the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau which is headed by Bob Warren. Needless to say, I felt an immense amount of personal pride that day since I am an Evansville native.
Our Board of Directors consists of nine members. Two of us are from Evansville, one from Jeffersonville, one from Ohio, two from Illinois, one from Iowa, one from Georgia, and our President is from New Jersey. It is a diverse group both geographically and professionally. The LST 325 is the last operational sailing LST in the world that is pretty much in original configuration. It is a national treasure and is significant on an international level, particularly in Europe where it saw most of its action as well as North Africa.
The Board also wishes to thank the citizens of Evansville for their support and enthusiasm. In the near future you will notice an increase in public awareness on the local level. While the LST 325 has quite a following on the national and international level, we have not done a good job of publicity locally. That will change in the upcoming months. We will be working with the Convention and Visitors Bureau in this endeavor.
The Board will be traveling to Peoria on January 18th to meet with city officials and view the proposed berthing site. At this time we will see what Peoria has to offer and have discussions about general requirements in terms of what would need to be constructed and what it would cost their city. In other words, it would be determined if it is financially viable for the city before the process proceeded further. I hope by writing this that I’ve shed some light on how our organization functions. It is not doom and gloom, it is due diligence.
Member, Board of Directors
USS LST Memorial, Inc.