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Posted on Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 6:03 a.m.

USS Washtenaw memorial display to find new home

By Art Aisner

The USS Washtenaw display will have a place to dock.

Washtenaw County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to provide space just outside the County Clerk’s Office for the historical display honoring the only U.S. Naval vessel bearing the county’s name.

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The display for the USS Washtenaw is currently housed in an old warehouse. Art Aisner | For

A group of local veterans began raising money to move and refurbish the old wooden display earlier this year after they learned it was damaged and was sitting alongside excess office furniture in a county warehouse.

The display, which itself is one of 12 historic districts in the county, contains a model of the ship built by Ann Arbor veteran Bill Prince, the ship’s wheel, more than a dozen decorative service awards and a 400-pound brass bell.

The county risked losing the artifacts to the Navy if they weren't placed on public display.

The USS Washtenaw is believed to be the most decorated ship of the Vietnam War for its ability to transport troops and supplies; it then became a home base for swift boat operations and spent the final years of the war as a minesweeper with a skeleton crew.

Several veterans working on the effort, dubbed "Operation Harbor," were in attendance at Wednesday's county board meeting.

They said they're still collecting donations and are close to their goal of raising $7,500 to have the display redesigned by a Livingston County artist. They hope it will be on display at 200 N. Main St. by May.

Donations are tax-deductible and can be made to the Vietnam Veterans of America
Chapter 310, with LST 1166 in the memo, at P.O. Box 3221, Ann Arbor, Mi. 48106.
Any excess funds will be donated to local efforts to provide care packages for troops currently serving overseas.

Art Aisner is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 9 a.m.

Perhaps the county should impose a "sin" tax ( on vets only of course )to pay for rent and upkeep of this memerioal


Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 1:31 p.m.

I am happy we are remembering those who served.


Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 11:51 a.m.

I first want to thank the Washtenaw County Commissioners for the unanimous support shown for this project. As a former crewmember of the USS Washtenaw County I am very pleased that the display of artifacts taken from the ship will now be located in a space much more visible by the public. The ship and her crew helped pioneer new strategies deployed in LST river-based operations in Vietnam, acting not only as a home base for the small river boats and their crews, but also by conducting amphibious beach assaults and special operations such as launching teams "up river" to carry out rescue operations from POW camps. Please visit our website, to learn more about this fine naval vessel. As to the cost of the project, we veterans always have a "can do" attitude when it comes to something like this. We will always find a way to honor our brothers and sisters of the military for the sacrifices made in duty to our great country. I'm thankful and proud to have been a crewmember of the finest "Gator Freighter" in the U.S. Navy. Lastly, I want to thank my fine brothers of the Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter for spearheading the fundraising efforts to bring this display back to life. Bravo Zulu!!!

WW II Veteran

Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 11:38 a.m.

I served in the United States Navy in WW II we never referred to LST's as Landing Shp Tanks we referred to them as " Latge Slow Target" GO NAVY


Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 10:57 a.m.

I am not going to defend the county or the goofs running the show in the county, But hardly anybody knew of the artifacts for years Go Blue, however I do feel that the money for the drating artist to paint a mural or whatever he was to do should go towards the display of this long forgotten ship, And Tdw as long as people like ma and my family live those who disrespect our Veterans will never have a peaceful rest. So do not worry we will make it cool to remember who made are freedom free. I am looking forward to making a trip to the county building to see the exhibit when it is ready.


Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 8:58 a.m.

Art, Thank you for letting us know about this project. I hope everyone will take a minute to send in a check. May God bless all veterans and members of the US military and their families, especially during this holiday season. We thank you for your service and for your sacrifice.


Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 8:51 a.m.

Go Blue Don't you know that remebering the men and women who gave us our freedoms is'nt cool or fashonable anymore.Afeter all freedom is free and nobody has to sacrefice for it.100,s of thousands of dollars are much wiser spent on "art"

Go Blue

Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 8:30 a.m.

Gee, how interesting. We have this huge "to do" over spending a vast amount of money in depression like times over art work to be commissioned by an out of the area artist. However, we take the artifacts that represent those that laid down their lives for each and every one of us and stash them carelessly away and then make those same veterans go out and raise the money to put those items on display. I'm totally impressed with the logic and mentality on that one - not.