Extraordinary Service: LST 393
MOVIES ON THE DECK: LST 393
Above; children play where men served in wartime on the deck of the LST 393
I’ve been on the road which gave me time to think on the photo challenges I’ve missed, specifically; (extra)ordinary. Muskegon has many extra ordinary things that other beach towns lack. We are a working harbor with regular cross lake car ferry service, we have visiting lake freighters, we are home to several tugboats, the last working fishing boat on Lake Michigan docks here and aside from several marinas we have our own submarine. Today I want to feature one of the jewels in our maritime crown; the LST 393.
The LST 393 is an LST-1 Class Landing Ship, Tank carrier. 1,051 of them were built but she is one of only two remaining in their original configuration. This classy dame was no one’s barge. She is not a particularly pretty ship but she is beautiful to those she served. She is now a museum. The evening featured in these photos were part of her Movies On The Deck series. The movies are free and it is a pretty awesome and singular thing to take your family down and watch classic movies under the stars on the deck of a ship. Movie patrons bring chairs, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and snacks but you can buy movie popcorn or a soda for a dollar and, as always, donations are appreciated. So, arrive early, stake out a good spot and then explore the ship.
She is large and flat bottomed for shallow water, running up on shore and unloading tanks. You seamen will know how a boat like this would ride in waves. An older family member tells of his trip on an LST crossing the Pacific in WWII; Lots of men. Lots of puking. Lots of men puking. He relates that all, Army Air Corp (later to become known as the Air Force), Marines, and even the Navy men running the ship, all were hanging over the sides ‘feeding the fishes’. Mildly put she was not built for smooth sailing. She moved tanks and men. Docked permanently in downtown her ‘ride’ is now stable and she carries our history. She is a much venerated part of our town.
Looking towards downtown:
Hanging over the starboard side waving at passing boats:
Claiming an early seat:
The sun is setting, the crowd has grown and the show will soon begin:
Cartoons before the main feature:
On June 6, 1944 LST 393 was part of the forces that landed at the beaches of Normandy to liberate Europe from Hitler. I think it extraordinary that now her passengers are families gathered to enjoy an evening of films . It is an apt testament to the men who served on her for those men made it safe for children to play on her deck on a lovely June evening. I feel it would have comforted those D-Day soldiers who were sailing into hell 70 years ago to know how she would serve in her old age.
LST 393 Home Page
There are many movies about D-Day, our first “Movie on the Deck” was The Longest Day. Hollywood did not show gorey details when that movie came out in ’62 yet the message strongly rings through and it was sobering to watch that flick on the deck of a boat that was there. If you want more realism in your D-Day war movies there is Saving Private Ryan .
Saving Private Ryan is tough to watch and it is with profound gratitude to those who went before and gave their lives that I offer this next movie as a palliative for the pain. On the night in the above photos we were gathered to enjoy The Princess Bride.