Dominick R Perruso
2012 Kemmerer St. Beth. Pa.
Born In West Easton Pa.
1. How did you become involved with LST 325? (When, where, how did you first hear about the ship that might become/was the LST Ship Memorial)
I became involved when my son Michael had some free time during classes. He is a school teacher and was on the computer and ran LST-391 and found out that they were going to return the 391 back to the USA, that it was in Greece at the present time. Michael called me when he got home and questioned me about the 391. He knew I served on it in Normandy and that we had taken a hit on the starboard side and the Captain gave the order to abandon ship. We were in Cherbourg at the time and that was the last I saw of the 391. I was not aware of the LST Association. I contacted Linda Gunjack and gave her my information and I joined the Association. Then she filled me in on what had happened since we abandoned ship. The ship was blocking the harbor and had to be removed. They temporarily patched a hole in starboard side and towed her back to England for more repairs, then towed her back to USA where she underwent a complete over haul. The war in the Pacific was winding down so she never left the USA except trips to Greenland. Eventuallly she was turned over to the Greek Government along with LST-325 and other LST'S that had been taken out of service and were in what they called the bone yard (ready for scrap). Our LST Memorial Association spent many years and a lot of their own time and money attempting to acquire an LST. This is a long story and I would have writer's cramp till I got done . Ed Stroble did locate LST in Greece and he went aboard the 391 to check it out. Some of our board also went to check it out. The 391 was in very good condition as Strobel has the photos to prove it. When everything was approved with Congress, President Clinton signed the bill to turn ownership over to the LST Memorial Association. To our surprise when we arrived in Greece, the 391 had been literally destroyed. We were given a choice of other LSTs and the 325 was selected. That is another story.
2. What is your background - do you have a connection to LSTs or the Navy? Are you a veteran or the relative of a veteran who served aboard or was transported by these ships? (If you are a veteran, please also give information as to when and where you served, the duty you had.)
In reference to what I did in Greece - I along with every one else - did what ever we could do to restore the 325 and prepare her to sail home. I have to admit that after two weeks aboard we were making no headway at all and I phoned my wife told her I was thinking about returning home. I did. While back home my thoughts were of the crew I left. In order to keep myself busy, I built a deck which I had intentions of doing anyway. About two days after I completed my deck, I had a call from Robert Jornlin. He introduced himself, and I did know him personally. Some of our crew knew him well and spoke highly of him. He said the reason he was calling was that he wanted me to return and the crew was also asking for me to return. I did mention to him if he was aware of why left. He said he was, and that he was leaving for Athens the following day. He assured me that things would change after he was aboard. I said "Mr Jornlin, do I have your word on that?" He said "You certainly do!" With that I booked a flight back Souda Bay, Greece. I know the Captain is a man of his word.
3. Have you served as a maintenance worker? What duties have you participated in along this area?
(Dom didn't answer this question, but as you can see in his other replies, he has been a terrific asset to the 325!)
4. Have you served as a crew member? If so, what have been your duty stations?
(Dom is a Gold Crew member.)
5. Have you spoken to others about the Ship Memorial? (One on one or to groups. What types of events?)
My wife will tell you that when I start talking about LST-325, and you are eager to listen, I talk non-stop. I, along with other Gold crew members, have given talks to schools, churches, service clubs or any organization that needed a guest speaker. Of course we were always looking for a donation at completion of our speech. We must be old news as I do not get any more requests.
6. If you could make a specific point about LST 325 (the ship or the people), what would it be?
She's a grand old girl - she served her country and crew and the men that served on her were the best!
7. What is your favorite memory/recollection of regarding LST 325?
I have so many memories and they are all good. The month of March, 2001, myself and Corbin Fowkes and Jim McAndrew spent the whole month and installed the sewage disposal system and replaced most of the soil lines.
8. Do you have a personal goal regarding your involvement with the ship? (A specific project, a personal achievement, an overall goal you want to see attained)
We the crew, are mostly in our eighties/plus. I would like to see her keep moving forward and as long as we have the caliber of people that come aboard to work on her, I can see this happening.
9. What is the favorite 'sea story' you have told regarding the LST 325?
There again, there are many I do remember. During the night we had a close call with one of those container ships. I don't recall if our power when down or if we had lost our steering. This happened quite a few times then we made 360 to get back on course. It was a lot of fun.. ha-ha
10. What has been your favorite project regarding LST 325?
We had a leak from the sea chest; it was down in the bilges and hard to get at. My helper Jim McAndrew said "Pop, (that's what he called me) you can't get down there and patch that. I said "Jibo, watch me!" Well, the patch was still there until the ship had a lot of repairs in Mobile. Prince Albert (White), our laundry man, had trouble with hoses for the washer. They would get clogged up, he would call and I would clean the hoses out. Some time after that he told me he had an electrical problem with the washer. Well that is 240 DC, so I called Gary Lyon to give me a hand. What happened was the discharge valve was an electric solenoid and it went bad. We did not have another. What I did was put a gate valve on the discharge line and all Albert would have to do was open it for the discharge cycle, which were quite a few. What we did was connected a pig tail to the solenoid valve circuit and when the red light lit, he would open the valve and close it when it went off. The starboard engine gave us a problem all the way home .While checking shaft alley, they found that the starboard engine was down again. I talked to Bartlett and he said there was a water leak on the heat exchanger. This is somewhat of long story. I will make it short - I got an angle iron, rubber gasket material and two pieces of wood. Well the patch worked and 0800 that morning they started it up. A patch was in place all the way home. There are some more but that's enough for now.
11. What does the ship mean to you personally? What does it represent?
She is part of me or the other way around. She, along with all the other LSTs, played a big part in bringing WW2 to an end. She is a MEMORIAL AND A TRIBUTE to everyone that sailed, but mostly the troops which were transported to the beach and never returned.
Any additional comments you'd like to include:
In concluding I want to mention some thing very important - GOD was with us all. He gave us our youth back for six months.