VALLEJO, Calif. — Guns, guns and more guns. When troops in WWII needed protection, they got behind the USS-LCS-102. The “Yankee Dollar,” as it was nicknamed, was designed to give soldiers cover when they stormed enemy beaches. In a pinch these ships could motor up on the sand and unleash a hellfire of rockets and mortars.
“Per ton it is more heavily armed than a battleship,” said Gordon Stutrud, who is a part of a group of veterans that saved this ship from a boat yard in Thailand.
Only 130 of these highly effective boats were built, but after the war all were scrapped except for this one.
“They were like beer cans. They were built with purpose and then the Navy was done with them,” said Stutrud.
The Yankee Dollar is now docked at Mare Island in Vallejo and is open as the Landing Craft Support Museum. Stutrud encourages visitors to explore and touch things.
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The “Yankee Dollar” had a crew of about 70 people and they all lived in pretty cramped quarters. Sailors were packed into small sleeping quarters with stacks of bunk beds.
“You had a whole 18 inches of wiggle room above you,” said Stutrud.
Some other noteworthy places to explore include the radar room, the captain's quarters and the mess hall.
“You have to be nice to the cook or he will put the mashed potatoes here, the ice cream here, and gravy on the ice cream,” said Stutrud.
There’s more room on the top deck and this is where you get to play with the guns, which are decommissioned of course. The Landing Craft Support Museum is here to give visitors a real look at what war heroes experienced.
“This is not Disneyland; this is the real thing. This is the real deal,” said Stutrud.
The Landing Craft Support Museum is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
MORE MILITARY MUSEUMS ON THE BACKROADS: The American Armory Museum is a hands-on experience where you can touch rocket launchers and climb inside a variety of war machines.