The Bugler

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Small Business Helps Win the War

America has always been known for its hard work, dedication and ingenuity. A prime example of this is America pulling together for the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, 70 years ago this week.

Andrew Higgins was known as an eccentric but very smart businessman. According to notes from a Stanford class, Higgins was "positive once the war broke out that there would be a need among the U.S. Navy for thousands of small boats - and was also sure that steel would be in short supply. In a common moment of eccentricity, Higgins bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines and stored it on his own."

Picture from www.nationalWW2museum.org.

This shrewd lock up of a critical component was only the beginning of his endeavor. It took him several years to convince the US Navy about the need for the small boats, which were officially known as Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel "LCVPs." Once the contract was signed Higgins went to work and according to the WWII museum, "the Higgins workforce was the first in New Orleans to be racially integrated. His employees included whites, blacks, men, women, seniors, and people with disabilities. All were paid equal wages according to their job functions." These workers "eagerly began mass-producing the 'Higgins boats,' which were 36'3" in length and had a beam of 10'10". Their displacement when unloaded was 18,000 lbs., and they could maintain a speed of 9 knots. They were defended by 2.30 caliber machine guns, and could carry 36 combat-equipped infantrymen or 8,000 pounds of cargo. Along with the help of other American factories, Higgins produced 23,398 LCVPs during the War." They responded by shattering production records, turning out more than 20,000 boats - 12,500 of them LCVPs—by the end of the war.

According to the WWII museum, "Higgins designed and produced a unique and ingenious collection of amphibious boats capable of delivering masses of men and equipment safely and efficiently from ship to shore, eliminating the need for established harbors" and President Eisenhower later said that "Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us" and went on to say without the Higgins boats, "the whole strategy of the war would have been different." (cs.stanford.edu)

Drawing from cs.stanford.edu.

New Orleans: Home of the WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is one of the most interesting museums in America and it can be enjoyed by all ages. The National WWII Museum displays a reproduction of a Higgins LCVP in its Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. This Higgins Boat was built from original plans entirely by volunteers - several of whom worked for Higgins Industries during World War II. It also has numerous exhibits and artifacts from both the Western and Eastern fronts.

Knit Your Bit

Knitting is one of those activities that is increasingly popular again. I know many high schools have knitting clubs as well do many communities. The National WWII museum has a project called Knit Your Bit, which provides you patterns to knit a simple, but cozy, scarf to be donated to a veteran in a Veterans Center somewhere in the United States. Visit NationalWW2Museum.org to view patterns and see requirements for knitting scarves for veterans.

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