In a 1964 interview, Dwight Eisenhower said a single person "won the war for us." Was he referring to Gen. George Patton? Gen. Douglas MacArthur? No -- Andrew Higgins, who designed and built the amphibious assault crafts that allowed the Allies to storm the beaches of Normandy. The eccentric boat builder foresaw not only the Navy's acute need for small military crafts early on, but also the shortage of steel, so he gambled and bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines. His New Orleans company produced thousands of the unimpressive-looking -- but vital -- boats for the war effort.
Chicago Tribune file