Battle reenactment part of D-Day commemoration on WWII ship

By JUSTINE LOFTON | Muskegon Chronicle, Mich. | Published: May 29, 2019

MUSKEGON, Mich. —  One of the most important events of World War II, D-Day, took place 75 years ago and one its relics stationed in Muskegon is going all out to commemorate it.

The “Great Crusade” to end the war began with the invasion of the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. The USS LST 393, now moored near downtown Muskegon, was part of the attack on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Seventy-five years later, the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum is “pulling out all the stops” to commemorate the sacrifices of all those who were part of “the longest day,” according to a news release.

On Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1, the museum will hold a community celebration in honor of "D-Day Plus 75.” The event at the museum, which is moored at Mart Dock, 560 Mart St., is free and open to the public.

The event will be highlighted by a battle reenactment at 1 p.m. on Saturday followed by “Air Raid Muskegon” with the Hooligan’s Flight Team at 3:30 p.m.

The ship is expected to be “well-armed” for the occasion after the recent addition of a Bofors 40mm twin-barreled anti-aircraft cannon this year.

An opening ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday with the closing ceremony set for 5:30 p.m. that day. The event is free and open to the public.

The event will include historic military vehicles, a National Guard encampment, classic cars, a motorcycle honor ride, food vendors, and a 1940s-era pinup contest.

On Friday night, there will be a USO-style swing dance party from 7-11 p.m. Admission for that is $10.

Inside the museum, there are new exhibits and veteran tributes, including an expanded tribute to women in the military, a huge Army cargo truck and additions to the “Muskegon Connection” display. There is also an expanded exhibit dedicated to America’s four-legged heroes, the war dogs who served from World War II until today, including a tribute to “Cena,” the famous West Michigan Marine war dog, who was euthanized on the ship in 2017.

Planned for display alongside the ship this year is a restored Vietnam War-era river patrol boat (PBR). Tours will be available from the bow of the LST 393.

In 2018, more than 35,000 visitors toured the ship or attended the numerous ship events, making LST 393 one of the top attractions in Muskegon.

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 -- or Mart Dock -- 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.

The ship is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last tickets sold at 4 p.m. Adults can take a self-guided tour of the ship for an $8 donation; students are $5.

©2019 Muskegon Chronicle, Mich.

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