On my recent vacation I visited two wartime heroes. Inanimate, mechanical heroes carrying men of great courage.
The first one was born in 1943 in Oyster Bay, New York. With a full US Army name and designation of tug LT-4. She (I was taught to think of ships as female) crossed the Atlantic in early 1944 under tow. She traveled with others of her class. I prefer not to think of the dangers that lurked under ocean waves during that voyage.
Soon she worked out of an English port and participated in the D-Day invasion. Unlike many of the ships in Operation Overlord, she did not transport troops. In a support role, like a sturdy assistant, she towed ammunition barges across the English Channel.
Think on it. You are one of twenty-six men on a tug 115 foot in length. Your protection from enemy strafing is two 50 caliber machine guns. And you tow ammunition toward a battle zone!
Heroes all – the men who served – and the heart of the ship.
She’s retired now. After military discharge she served faithfully in the Great Lakes towing work and derrick barges for harbor improvements. You may see her under her civilian name, Tug Ludington, up close and personal in Kewaunee, Wisconsin.