Higgins Boat Salvaged From Hurricane Debris - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Higgins Boat Salvaged From Hurricane Debris

They are the military landing craft made famous by the D-Day beach invasion of World War Two. That's why "Higgins Boats" hold a special place in our military's history.

One such boat that almost became hurricane debris is headed for a military museum instead.

"We move disabled equipment. Transport it back in for repair. This just happens to be a World War Two boat," said commander Mark Prine, as he directed his troops.

National guard troops prepare to salvage a Higgins Boat. Hurricane Katrina deposited the landing craft near a canal off North Street.

"It'll be nice to see it have a good home now," said owner Henry Schroeder, who's donating the craft to the military museum at Camp Shelby.

"A World War Two vehicle. It's a great one. It's a mission. We were just laughing. We were all down here for Katrina too. This sort of helps close the loop for us," said Prine.

As he watched the move, Henry Schroder flashed back to the adventure he had aboard the boat, bringing it to the coast from the Sabine Wildlife Refuge near Lake Charles.

"Two hundred thousand acres of millions of alligators and deer flies this big! I've never seen anything like that in my life," he said, "We should have died four times on that trip."

The museum is pleased with the donation. There's the Katrina connection, plus a still unknown military history.

"We've got records back to 1962 on this one. But we need to go a little bit further and hopefully we'll find something real interesting to put on the data plate when we put it on display," said museum director, Chad Daniels.

Mr. Schroeder says the Higgins Boat was parked at his specialty gravel business across the canal. He was just about to begin work restoring the vessel. And then came Katrina.

It nearly landed in a heap of hurricane debris. Someone on a debris crew recognized it as a Higgins Boat and started the process to save it. It's former owner is happy it will soon land at Camp Shelby's museum.

"I lost enough stuff in the hurricane. There was nowhere to go with it. So, I'm happy to see it get a good home," said Schroeder.

Mr. Schroeder bought the boat 14 years ago at a Department of Defense auction for 12 hundred dollars. It will be restored and then placed on display outside the Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby.

By Steve Phillips

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