Capitalism in WWII: Andrew Higgins “The Man Who Won WWII”

Andrew Jackson Higgins and his boats forever changed the strategy of modern warfare.  During World War II his landing craft got U.S. soldiers, vehicles and equipment safely from ship to shore, and were used in every major operation in the European and Pacific theaters. These iconic vessels (LCVPs, LCPLs, LCMs), became known as “the Higgins boats” and immortalized their place in history with their deployment on the D-Day landings in Nazi German-occupied Normandy. His versatile patrol torpedo (PT) boats took down target ships much larger in size with their on-deck torpedoes as well as serving as gunnery boats and rescue boats, recovering downed pilots from the water.

“Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us.”

General Dwight Eisenhower

In addition to Higgins’ design and production genius, he was a pioneer with his business practices. His New Orleans based company, Higgins Industries, began as a single boatyard, employing fewer than seventy-five people in 1938. Through his exceptional drive and vision, in late 1943, he owned several plants and employed more than twenty thousand workers. He was a man without prejudice, hiring undrafted white males, women, African Americans, the elderly and the handicapped, all paid equal wages according to their work. They responded by helping Higgins Industries produce 20,094 boats for the Allied war effort. Following the war, General Dwight Eisenhower was quoted as saying that “Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us.”

PT-305 Boat Tour with Tom Czekanski

Senior Curator for the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Tom Czekanski, acts as tour guide though the newly restored Higgins Industries-built patrol torpedo boat, PT-305. After a decade of restoration, this fully operational artifact of WWII is currently taking museum visitors on historic rides through Lake Pontchartrain.