FORT BELVOIR, VA (WUSA9) - An unsung hero has come home.
Crews installed one of the few remaining D-Day landing craft inside what will soon be the National Museum of the United States Army.
It was enough to bring a tear to a General's eye.
Gen. Gordon Sullivan, chairman of the Army Historical Foundation, still remembers the day he brought a few surviving D-Day vets back out to sea in one of the boats that were their bridges to the beach. He said they wept openly.
“That was a powerful reminder of what they did as young men for this country,” said Gen. Sullivan, the former Army Chief of staff.
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The Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP) is also known as a Higgins Boat, after it's designer. The 36-foot vessel is too big to install after the new National Museum of the US Army is finished. So crews carefully hoisted it into place beforehand, and they're building the museum around it.
It was the Higgins Boat you probably saw in the movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” It helped land 160,000 troops at Normandy on D-Day.
“If things were really bad at the bow, at the ramp, they could jump over the side,” said historian Patrick Jennings. “They would do everything they could to go to shore, because shore was where they went to war.”
The tough old boat installed at the museum hit beaches in North Africa, Normandy, and the South Pacific. But it's been restored, and curators were so worried about rain, they kept it under wraps.
It could be another two years before we get a look at it -- and a chance to remember the heroes she ferried to war.
“Your history, as seen by the men and women who had to courage to stand up and say look at us!” said Gen. Sullivan.
The Army is the only branch of the service not to have its own national museum. Now it will. It's slated to open late in 2019.
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