I can’t believe that my father never made the trek with the family to the General Patton Memorial Museum while we lived in southern California so many years ago. The only reason must be that it didn’t exist because this place is a military enthusiasts dream. And my father is a military man, our family vacations usually included of stopping by a battlefield or two. The museum located in Chiriaco Summit had lots and lots of army green stuff and old maps. In fact I sent a photo to a co-worker of the interior and he replied. “I’d be like a kid in a candy store!” The museum is packed with memorabilia from WWII through Operation Desert Storm but the majority is WWII.
Patton was an officer during the time when the military was converting from the horseback cavalry to the tank cavalry. He participated in both and was instrumental in leading the tank corps; thus his memorial included a number of tanks.
Brent didn’t read the “Keep Off” signs until after he’d crawled all over them.
There were a lot of arms at the museum as well – Enfields, Springfields, Colts, and even some Walthers and Rugers. One exhibit even showed how the troops would take spent casings and create pieces of art during their down time.
They also have a lot of memorial portions. My favorite was a memorial to a woman who smuggled out 2,500 infants from the Jewish ghetto. She was nominated for a Nobel prize but lost. The placard continued that she lost to Al Gore and his PowerPoint presentation on global warming. Brent enjoyed the poster that read “Up and at ’em Housewives!’ imploring the ladies to contribute to the war effort.
The site is at the old Desert Training Camp. Patton decided that men needed to be acclimated to desert condition to properly fight in Africa. Over 1 million men trained in the desert’s harsh conditions. The docent explained that the tanks would get up to 145 degrees on the inside, which wasn’t so bad once they got used to it. One of the pictures showed a soldier frying an egg on the tank.
If wargames are not your thing the facility also housed The Big Map. This is a huge 3-D topographical map of Southern California. It was built to help determine just where the aqueducts should be laid to get water from the Colorado river to the cities to the West.