HIGGINS BOAT MONUMENT UTAH BEACH
On June 6, 1944 the majority of Allied troops initially arriving on the
Normandy Beaches landed in one of two craft: the British Landing Craft
Assault (LCA) or the American Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP).
In fact some 1,089 LCVPs took part in D-Day.
Developed by Andrew Jackson Higgins in 1941, the LCVP was built by
Higgins Industries in New Orleans. The Higgins Boat carried up to 36 troops,
was capable of up to 12 knots and could be outfitted with a pair of Browning
M1919 machine guns. The boats were crewed by four personnel.
By the time of the Normandy landings the LCVP had been used in every
theater of operations including Operation Torch in North Africa, landings
in Italy, and in Southern France. It was also used in the Pacific theater.
The memorial to Higgins, his boats and the men who rode ashore in them
has been given by the people of France by the citizens of Columbus, Nebraska
the birthplace of Andrew Jackson Higgins. The memorial here is a replica of
a memorial built in Columbus in 2001, and is also a celebration of partnerships
between Columbus and Sainte Marie du Mont … two communities tied together by history heritage and freedom.
By age nine Andrew, out of necessity, had become an entrepreneur. He started a lawn cutting service and operated several newspaper delivery routes. Andrew managed the businesses and hired older boys to do the physical work. At age twelve Higgins designed and built his first boat in the basement of his family’s Omaha home.
In 1900 Higgins enrolled at Creighton Prep. He left Creighton after his junior year to join the 2nd Nebraska Infantry, a National Guard regiment. It was as part of a Nebraska militia that Higgins received his first amphibious training – on the shallow waters of the Platte River. Later under the leadership of Sergeant Major Higgins his battalion’s drill team won a national prize.
In 1906 Higgins moved south to pursue a career in the lumber and boat business. He and wife Angele had six children. Many times he lost his company and savings to hurricanes and hard times. He never lost focus of his goals.
Mr. Higgins enjoyed returning to his homeland of Nebraska. In 1943 he spoke at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Higgins was quoted as saying, “If it had not been for the Missouri River at Omaha there would have been no Higgins Industries of New Orleans turning out ships, planes, engines, guns and what have you for the army and navy. Looking at the Missouri shallows, its snags and driftwood, he says, led him to think up his first shallow-draft boat. Everything else came from that.”
On August 27, 1946 Higgins and his sisters Elizabeth, Joy and Mary returned to Columbus. Andrew was the featured speaker for the city’s 90th birthday celebration. This quote was taken from his speech. “The town where I was born no matter how long the absence, when a man utters these words his heart strings are touched-whether the town be the habitat of generations or chosen by his parents as in my case, it makes little difference. My parents chose and loved Columbus. I was a young child when I left Columbus but my heart warms at the thought and mention of its name–here in this sod my parents and my brothers and sisters lie in that growing community of valiant pioneers, their sons and daughters.”