Laughlin Memorial Library, 99 11th St., in Ambridge will hold a reception beginning at 7:30 a.m. as everyone waits for the ship, which is scheduled to pass between 8-11 a.m.
An assortment of LST photos from the American Bridge Company will be on display and refreshments will be provided.
At 11 a.m., a presentation of the history of the LST given by author, historian, and LST Navy Veteran, Gary Augustine, will follow at Laughlin Memorial Library. The program is free, but anyone who plans to attend the lecture is requested to RSVP by Aug. 27 by calling the library at 724-266-3857.
“When you talk about industrial might in this country, you cannot leave out Ambridge, PA, home of American Bridge Company. Beaver County is rich in history," Julie Mulcahy, library director, said in a news release. "We had Gary here with the Heinz History Center volunteers in April and filled the room."
Mulcahy adds that many of the library’s patrons and their family members worked there and remember seeing the huge ships being tested and launched when they were children.
Augustine’s talk, “The Indispensable Ship: The Story of the Landing Ship Tank (LST) During World War II”, gives a fascinating account of the scope and history of the LST industry that was largely based at American Bridge Company which built 123 LSTs during WWII, she said.
By the spring of 1944, LSTs had become so vital to winning the War that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, “The destinies of two great empires seemed to be tied up in some God damned things called LSTs.”
According to Augustine, Leon Paddock, president of the American Bridge Company, a subsidiary of United States Steel and the largest structural steel fabricating company in the world, had been asked in January 1942, six weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by the U.S. Navy to do a big job--a really big job. The Navy asked his company to build a ship no one had ever seen, using a workforce and shipyard that didn’t exist.
"That shipyard was built here...and the people were ours…"
Augustine is a 1956 graduate of Ambridge High School, a 1960 graduate of the University of Chicago, and U.S. Navy veteran who served on a post-World War II built LST for 37 months. He has had a lifelong passion for history and has a personal connection to the history of American Bridge Company and the shipyard. His grandfather was brought to Ambridge from McKees Rocks to help build it and his father was a company welder during WWII.