Higgins Boat from World War II now in Seward

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 10:19 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2023 at 6:00 PM CDT
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SEWARD, Neb. (KOLN) - The Nebraska National Guard Museum recently celebrated the 4th of July with the arrival of a Higgins boat that was found in a California lake.

We caught up with Jerry Meyer, who is the director of the Nebraska National Guard Museum to talk about it. “In 2021, Lake Shasta, California was down about 500 feet due to years of drought,” Meyer said. “This thing showed up near the marina. They needed to have the boat removed, so a man removed it, and a local donor with ties to this boat helped bring it here.”

The local donor is the family of John Cattle, Sr. “He was the patriarch of Cattle Bank in Seward,” Meyer said. “He was a World War II hero. He made three landings in Higgins boats. This was a perfect fit for the family to honor him. They wanted to bring it here for that reason, they also wanted to honor all of the soldiers who served in World War II, and all of the people who served on the home front.”

The Higgins boats were key to victory in the war. “We had the best trained military, but you needed a way to get soldiers to shore for the assault,” Meyer said. “This was the truck that got the soldiers where they needed to go. Without a doubt, this boat was the most strategically important item during World War II.” General Dwight Eisenhower called Higgins “the man who won the war for us.” He said if Higgins had not designed and built the LCVPs, the whole strategy of the war would have been different.

Andrew Jackson Higgins, who designed the Higgins Boats, like the one that is now at the Nebraska National Guard Museum, is a native of Nebraska. He is originally from Columbus, but none of the Higgins boats were built in Columbus. He moved to New Orleans, and was the founder of Higgins Industries there. This is where he rose to prominence during the war for his design and mass production of the Higgins Boats.

Now, you can see an actual Higgins boat in Seward, not a replica. “We are here from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.” Meyer said. “People can come to the front desk at the Nebraska National Guard Museum, and we will walk people down to a working bay where they can take a look, and learn more.”