EVANSVILLE, Ind. — On November 9, just in time for Veteran's Day, Atlas Van Lines agent Shannon Transport, with the support of the Atlas corporate fleet, returned a historic World War II flag to its rightful place aboard its original ship, the last remaining Landing Craft Support (LCS) ship in the world. New Jersey-based Shannon Transport, along with Atlas' corporate fleet, volunteered to store, pack and safely deliver the flag cross-country to the former U.S. Navy ship, the LCS 102, now permanently anchored in California.
The LCS 102 and its flag have a colorful history. The LCS 102 was one of 88 LCS ships that participated in the Okinawa campaign. These ships were much smaller than battleships or destroyers, but their small size allowed them to get close to the beaches and fend off enemy forces taking aim at troops going ashore.
After the battle at Okinawa, the captain of the LCS 102 ordered a new flag to replace the flag that had become tattered and discolored during the battle. He assigned a young sailor to hoist the new flag and dispose of the old flag using proper flag etiquette. Instead, the sailor inscribed the original flag with the ship's battles and ports-of-call and then stowed it in his sea bag. More than 60 years after being stowed away, the battle-stained flag resurfaced. The flag received special treatment by Smithsonian Institution preservation experts and was presented to a group of World War II LCS sailors in October at a ceremony aboard the Battleship New Jersey.
"In the spirit of the Atlas tradition of supporting the military, both past and present, it was an honor for us to secure transportation for this irreplaceable piece of history," said Paul Sipera, Shannon Transport CEO and a service-disabled veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps. "As a veteran myself, it was especially important to me that our team safely deliver the flag cross-country as a way of honoring the veterans – especially the brave sailors who served aboard the LCS 102 in World War II."
Following the War, the U.S. Navy loaned the LCS 102 to the Royal Navy of Thailand for more than 41 years. After a 12-year effort by World War II veterans and Congress, the ship finally came home to the United States on Veterans Day 2007. The LCS 102 is now a floating museum at the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, Calif.
"Atlas Van Lines and our agents have long supported veterans as well as active members of the service," said Glen Dunkerson, chairman and CEO of Atlas World Group. "Returning this historic icon to its rightful home is another way for us to honor those who have served."
Christopher Lehman, whose father served as Commanding Officer of another LCS (LCS 18) that participated in the Okinawa operations, presented the flag to the LCS Association at the ceremony aboard the Battleship New Jersey. He said, "There are only a few hundred surviving LCS sailors today, but the LCS 102 – now complete with its original battle flag – will serve as a lasting memorial to the brave service of more than 10,000 U.S. sailors who served aboard Landing Craft Support Ships."
About Shannon Transport Inc.
Shannon Transport, Inc. has been an interstate agent of Atlas Van Lines for more than 20 years and provides flawless service to its customers on a global level. In addition, Shannon Transport's fleet has over 50 units of varying sizes, functions and capacities, as well as immediate access to more than 4,500 of the best-equipped Atlas tractors, trailers and vans in the business.
About Atlas Van Lines
Atlas Van Lines is the largest subsidiary of Atlas World Group, an Evansville, Ind.-based company that posted revenues of $908 million in 2008. Atlas World Group companies employ nearly 700 people throughout North America. More than 500 Atlas interstate agents in the United States and Canada specialize in corporate employee relocation and in the transportation of high-value items such as electronics, fine art and new fixtures and furniture. Visit www.atlasworldgroup.com for more information on the company and Atlas agents.