Pittsburgh - October 1945
Great Lakes War Bond Drive
On October 17, 1945, the WWII Tank Landing Ship, LST-512, came to Pittsburgh and moored on the banks of the Monongahela River. A veteran of the Europe-Africa-Middle East Theater, the ship docked in Pittsburgh as part of the "Hit The Beach" demonstration unit of the Great Lakes War Bond Drive. LST-512 was loaded with exhibits and the public was welcomed aboard for a glimpse of the War in the Pacific.
The exhibits aboard LST-512 were impressive. One section included animated maps and color films of Pacific battles. Captured Japanese soldier's personal belongings and small arms, modern Marine weapons and communications equipment were among the many items presented. A second area of the ship was transformed into an authentic living jungle, complete with tropical plants. In the jungle area were enemy bunkers, American foxholes, snipers and a genuine native hut. A third section included a large moving panorama of a full-scale Pacific invasion beach.
On the main deck, visitors were allowed to examine the crew quarters and galley, along with a vast array of heavy American and Japanese guns, including artillery, tanks and trucks.
LST-512 was commissioned January 8, 1944 and saw action on the beaches of Normandy. The ship was damaged during the invasion effort and was no longer battle-worthy. It was reassigned to the homefront to be used for the coming War Bond drive. The tour of the midwestern and lakes cities was at the direction of Admiral Ernest J. King to bring the Pacific War closer to inland cities and as a gesture of appreciation to the workers at home who supported the naval forces during the war.
Along with several awards and citations earned during battle, LST-512 added one further distinction during it's Great Lakes tour. It was the first commissioned naval vessel to navigate the inland waterways since the Civil War.
After the Great Lakes Bond Drive, LST-512 was decommissioned and assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. In February 1957 the ship was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. On October 11 the ship was sold to Peru, renamed BAP Paita (LT-35), and commissioned in the Peruvian Navy. The ship was deactivated and scrapped in 1983.
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