Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Interview with Captain Bob Jornlin! by DL Larson

On July 2nd, I shared about my trip to visit the LST 325 in Evansville IN. I mentioned Captain Bob Jornlin and his experience with the restoration and return of the LST 325 to the United States. Today, I'm pleased to share an interview with him. His book is called, Bringing Home A Hero, and is available on


 You have delivered over 600 talks regarding your story with LST 325. 
Tell how that differs from writing your book?
 A big difference  -  A talk is generally limited to 30 or 40 minutes. One cannot fully tell the many 
fascinating, humorous, exciting, and dramatic happenings in a six month odyssey; nor can one 
describe the twenty-eight navy veterans with different war and life experiences, their talents, and 
personalities which made this voyage possible.

Your story deals with many different government agencies, 
from several countries. 
Tell how you managed to keep moving forward to get what you needed without anyone 
officially backing you and your men.
If I tell you how I did this, I will have to kill you! Seriously, first I had a group of really good men that were 
breaking their backs getting this old ship into some kind of running condition. That is except one, 
a Mr. M and we made him walk the plank, or a real life mutiny happened. These men got the respect 
of our Ambassador to Greece, Nickolas Burns. Then the Greek Officers and men could not believe 
how hard these men worked or was it how hard they played on liberty after working hours were over!
 I learned right away as we have found out so recently – Senate and Congressmen have absolutely no control 
or say as to what the U.S. State Department does! I put my head down and just continued pushing as if 
I did not hear “NO.” Many of my crew, average age 72, couldn’t hear either!

What was the most rewarding part of dealing with these government officials? 
What was the most exasperating?
 Rewarding – getting a letter (To Whom It May Concern) with a red wax seal on the bottom from the Consul 
General of the United States saying this ship was ours, and to extend all courtesies and privileges to the Captain!  Exasperating – having the U.S. State Dept. stall us for a month to approve the paperwork for us to sail. 
This put us crossing the North Atlantic in the winter time.

You mentioned the older vets knew how to fix the LST 325 and younger service men did not.
Most of my crew had spent three years on an LST in WWII or the Korean war. The crew was split into 
mainly two Depts., engineering and deck. Some of these men (after their Navy service) continued on in 
civilian life as engineers, electricians, mechanics, etc. Several had made a career out of the Navy serving 
20 plus years. One ran/owned a 500 million dollar/yr. company. One put the elevators in the space needle in 
Seattle for the World’s Fair. Every one was very successful, self starters, and smart.

Many people don’t realize you and the retired vets fulfilled this expedition with your own money. 
Everyone assumed the U.S. Government helped finance this endeavor. We know now, they did not. 
How much money do you think each volunteer spent to bring the LST 325 home?
The plane ticket to Crete, Greece cost each $650.00. Each kicked in $1600.00 for their share of the food and fuel estimated to sail her home. Each one also kicked in $600.00 in a ‘slop fund’ which you could draw from for beer, pop, candy, gum, etc. Everyone also had to pay out of their pocket for anything spent off the ship on liberty. Many spent their own money for tools and small parts for the ship. I will guess the average man spent an additional $10.00 per day. Some spent more buying souvenirs, ice cream, and beer!

You have recently given up your commission as Captain. Please share with us your thoughts and reasons for this. How long have you been Captain of the LST 325?
I was Captain for 14 years and two months! I had a good life before the LST and thought it was time 
to slide back into that former time. We had a very good river pilot that came along, who took an interest in the ship, and agreed to be Captain. My wife, Lois, and I both spent almost 100% of our time dealing 
with one problem after another. Many e-mails, phone calls, and events seemed to always come at the same time as a family or friends outings. We were expected to go to the ship’s affairs. We met many great people 
we would never have known without the ship. We have a second family.

Will the LST 325 be moving away from its dock in Evansville, Indiana any time soon? 
If so, where does it plan to go?
Yes, the LST takes a trip every fall up a river or down. It will leave Evansville August 27 for Pittsburgh, PA. It will be open for tours Sept. 2 thru 8. Then turn back down the Ohio River to Cincinnati where it will be 
open again for tours from Sept. 12 thru 16. Then it will return to Evansville arriving Sept. 19, 2015. Evansville remains our home port.

How does one go about visiting the LST 325?  
We have a web sight, a very good one, at Presently it is open seven days a week in Evansville, IN. Monday through Saturday from 10.00 AM to 4:00 PM. Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 PM. Check website for winter hours.
 The LST gives a guided tour which takes about one hour; cost is $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for kids ages 6 to 18. Family ticket is $20.00  (Mom, Dad, and two  kids under 18)

 Do you plan to write another book?
 My wife says NO.  If I do, it will be about the LST after arrival in Mobile to now.

Is there anything you would like to share with us?

 Yes – Buy the book please and the final rewrite of the movie script has arrived in Los Angeles 
at the producers. Please keep your fingers crossed. Thank you for allowing me to tell everyone some of the 
thoughts and insights of ‘Bringing Back A Hero.’

Thank you, Bob!
Visit Captain Jornlin at

To purchase a copy of Bringing Back A Hero, visit

Til next time ~

DL Larson


  1. Sounds like a very worthwhile book. I hope it does become a movie!

  2. What a fabulous story. And definitely a movie I would go see...I'll keep my fingers crossed for sure!

    And thank you, not only for your part in history, but for preserving that history as well.

  3. Thanks! I hope this become a movie as well!

  4. Deb, thank you and thank Capt. Bob as well. What a great interview. You know I'm thinking about him and WC. I wish I hadn't decided to end the show. I really enjoyed the interview.

  5. Oh, he would have been perfect! And I didn't know you ended your show ... good grief! What you did was awesome!! Glad you stopped by - please spread the news. Thanks

  6. What a wonderful interview-keeping my fingers crossed as well.