Local Navy Veteran Reminisces Aboard The L.S.T.-325 In Moline

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Over Labor Day weekend, Quad Citians were treated to some U.S. history on the L.S.T.-325(Landing Ship, Tank), a World War II amphibious vessel docked in the Quad Cities as 16,000 toured the ship for the first time.  This particular ship was to land battle-ready tanks, troops and supplies directly onto enemy shores.

For some in attendance, boarding the ship meant something much more important Jesse Perez, 84, of Moline, served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to1962 and worked his way from an Apprentice Seaman to retiring as a Chief Radioman.  In his time in the Navy, Mr. Perez led the “superstructure” also known as the back of the ship being put in charge of radiomen, electronic technicians, radar-men and signalman, also other qurtermen.  He witnessed five atomic bomb tests, and is a veteran of World War II and the Korean War.  After retiring from the military, Mr. Perez would go on to dedicate the next twenty years of his life working on the Rock Island Arsenal in communications.  During the twenty years in the Navy he would step foot on twenty different ships some very similar to the L.S.T.-325.
When asked to recall some of the feelings he felt as he boarded the ship again, Mr. Perez explained that seeing the ship again up close brought back many mixed emotions. 

“The ship brought back many good memories but also made me remember many times where I looked out to sea and saw three ships with over three-hundred men on them, then a fifty foot wave hits and then they are gone,” Mr. Perez recalls. 

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He went on to say that the people most benefiting from the tour were the civilians that went aboard.  With tour guides at every corner visitors soon found out that this particular ship was put to work in 1942 and participated in the invasions at Gela, Sicily and Salemo, Italy.  The LST-325 would also be a part of the biggest armada in history at the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach.  As Mr. Perez stepped off the boat, he saluted it just as he did to everyone veteran he saw working on the ship.

As Mr. Perez continues to be a community activist in the Floreciente neighborhood in the West End of Moline, memories of his day in the U.S. Navy will never leave him.  He will in fact use the same core values learned there to make sure that his neighborhood, as well as the other surrounding ones stay clean and provide the necessary resources needed to be a contributing community.

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