Rare WWII boat leaves Keys! Two days ago I received an email from one of our valued readers informing me that this treasured WWII icon is now gone. I can ONLY hope that it went to a museum or collector to be restored and put on display and NOT to the scrap heap. This is a tribute to that WWII HERO and to the fact that nothing stays the same… not even in the Keys. Now get out there and enjoy other blog subjects before they too are gone. Here’s my tribute blast from the past blog:
What in the world is a Higgins Boat? For those of you who’ve seen the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ you may recall the opening minutes where the army troops are on a landing craft approaching the beach on D-Day as the very graphic lead starts flying in as the front ramp falls to the shore. That my friend is a Higgins boat!
The Higgins Boat has a flat bottom and is made of both plywood & metal plating to protect the troops. Over 20,000 of the thirty-six foot Higgins Boats were made. This wartime hero also came in the lesser made but larger versions of 56’, 70’ and 78’ landing crafts (only 199 of the latter were ever made). Original Higgins Boats used by our British allies were flawed having no front ramp. With no ramp, the oven laden soldiers were forced to bail over the sides with many drowning under the weight of the very equipment that was supposed to keep them alive. The front landing ramp concept was stolen from the design of an existing Japanese barge.
“Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us.” -said President Dwight D. Eisenhower 1964. There’s a memorial for the WWII famous Higgins Boat in Columbus, Nebraska which is the hometown of inventor Andrew Jackson Higgins. It looks like a D-Day memorial with an all metal Higgins Boat, ramp down and three soldiers with weapons ready, charging onto a beach.
I found this former World War II HERO jewel of a gem in a JUNK YARD of all places at Mile Marker 9.3 bayside on US-1 just north of Key West. I’d love to see one our readers take charge and turn this rusting junk yard relic into a restored masterpiece in its rightful time-honored position in a museum or military display for all to see and enjoy!