You may not recognize his name, but without him, the D-Day invasion of France couldn’t have happened.
Andrew Higgins was the man who designed and built more than 23,000 landing crafts that took soldiers onto the beaches of France 75 years ago, Thursday. His grandson, Skipper Higgins, was the guest of honor at the Milken Center for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott Thursday. The plywood boats took half a million allied soldiers from their troop transport ships in the ocean to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. But Higgins says that’s not the only contribution his grandfather made to the war effort.
“And then he went on to build all the PT boats in World War II, and many, many other things, Higgins plants worked on the carbon core of the Manhattan Project to make sure the atom bomb would explode when it was dropped, it became an enormous war time industry in the south,” says Skipper Higgins, Andrew Higgins Grandson.
Higgins employed 30,000 men and women at his company in New Orleans. Many of them were African American as well as those with disabilities. Higgins says that was almost unheard of in the deep south during the 1940’s.