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The USS LST 393 Veterans Museum, opening for tours tomorrow and Sunday, has many exhibits and collections on display. The museum will then be open Thursdays through Sundays through Labor Day.

– Photo courtesy of USS LST 393 Veterans Museum


USS LST 393 Veterans Museum warship will open tomorrow

By John Stephenson
LST 393 Veterans Museum

LST 393 has been through a world war, 25 years as of Great Lakes storms and a pandemic. Now she’s ready to start her 16th year as USS LST 393 Veterans Museum.

The historic World War II warship – a “landing ship tank” moored at the Mart Dock on the Muskegon waterfront – is restored and operated by a group of dedicated volunteers. It offers tours to view renovated areas of the ship and museum exhibits.

The museum will open for tours Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28. Thereafter, she’ll be open Thursdays through Sundays until Labor Day.

Great effort has been put into making the ship as clean and safe as possible because of the current COVID-19 emergency. Tour areas will be cleaned multiple times each week, sanitizer stations will be
located throughout the ship and face coverings will be required of everyone on board, as mandated by the state.

Visitors will see many upgraded exhibits and veteran tributes when the museum opens, including an expanded tribute to women in the military, a huge Army cargo truck of the type carried by LSTs and new additions to the “Muskegon Connection” display. Last year, more than 35,000 visitors toured the ship or attended the numerous ship events, making LST 393 one of the top attractions in Muskegon.

Sadly, the popular Movies on Deck series has fallen victim to the virus emergency. But volunteers are looking at ways to show one or two movies later this summer. The movies start after sunset on the
ship’s top deck; there is no admission charge but donations are accepted.

Exhibits inside the ship tell the stories of the soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coastguardsmen who served aboard LSTs; LST 393 is one of only two left in America out of 1,051 built. The ship’s bridge has been completely restored, as well as the galley, officers’ quarters, wardroom, sick bay and mess deck. A trip down to the engine room is a must for those who have an interest in awesome machinery.

Among the exhibits is the “Hall of Uniforms.” Three compartments of the ship have been revamped for a display of authentic uniforms donated by Muskegon veterans. They represent all branches of the armed forces and have come from veterans of five wars and seven decades of service.

Visitors can view an impressive collection of more than 150 military helmets and headgear from around the world. Also on display is a main battle tank engine on loan from L-3 Corporation of Muskegon.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall honors those from West Michigan who gave their all for their country in Southeast Asia. The wall contains a unique collection of Vietnam Conflict memorabilia as well as the photos of the more than 50 Muskegon County service personnel who died. Also honored are servicemen who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also a newly expanded section to commemorate those who served in Korea.

There is an exhibit dedicated to America’s four-legged heroes, the war dogs who served from World War II until today. A tribute to “Cena,” the famous West Michigan Marine war dog who was honored at her passing on the ship in 2017, is included.

Adults can take a self-guided tour of the ship for a $10 donation; students are $5. Volunteers are always on hand to answer questions about the ship and the museum displays. A large gift shop offers a variety of ship mementos.

LST 393 was built in 1942 to help America defeat the Axis powers in World War II. She was at the Sicily and Italy landings and made 30 round trips to Omaha Beach and France during the invasion of Normandy, delivering weapons of war. Sold as surplus in 1946 to Sand Products Inc., owners of West Michigan Dock and Market in Muskegon, she was converted to a cross-lake freighter called Highway 16 and was a fixture on Lake Michigan for three decades. She was retired from service in the 1970s.

LST 393 is located at the Mart Dock adjacent to Heritage Landing county park on the downtown Muskegon waterfront.

The ship opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.; the last tour starts each day at 4 p.m. Special guided tours for large groups are available and special events can be scheduled by calling 231-725-5918.
More information is available at: www.lst393.org.

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