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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- At the start of World War II, Winston Churchill said to win the war he needed a ship capable of delivering tanks and troops to a defended shore. Two years later the first LSTs were being tested.

The unique ships were built to carry tanks, weapons, and troops from England to France. The ships' massive front doors could open and allow tanks and other vehicles to drive onto beaches in France starting June 6, 1944.

More than 1,000 LSTs were built for the mission and there's one still floating on Muskegon Lake.

RELATED: On this day, tides of history turned

D-Day was the turning point in WW II. John Stevenson, with the LST-393 Veterans Museum, says the 70-year-old floating artifact in Muskegon landed on Omaha Beach, "It first came ashore on D-night."

LSTs could carry 28 tanks on the tank deck and a variety of other equipment on the top deck, like trucks and Jeeps.

In the weeks following D-Day, LST-393 made 30 round trips from England to France carrying around 400 troops each time. The passengers on the return trips to England included causalities of war and captured German soldiers.

The museum's new exhibit honors the 29 Muskegon men who played a role in the D-Day operation. LST-393 historian and curator Dan Weikel says of the 29, only eight made it home to Muskegon.

Only two LSTs are left in America, the other is in Indiana.

Friday night on the tank deck of the 393, the D-Day film The Longest Day will be shown starting at 8 p.m. There is no charge.

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