Saturday, December 18, 2010

General George S. Patton Museum at Chiriaco Summit

I don't visit museums often.  It isn't that I dislike them, I like a few very much, it's just that I don't usually think of visiting one if I have free time.  I had free time today and my hubby was uncharacteristically home on a Saturday (again - yay!) so the family took a day trip to visit the General George S. Patton Museum at Chiriaco Summit.

I realize that WWII happened a long time ago and most people in my generation probably don't know diddly squat about General Patton, but he was a fantastically fascinating and ballsy character in American history.  He was direct and had little tolerance for fear and cowardice.  He may have pushed his men and held them to high standards, but they appear to have respected him for it. 

If you can't bring yourself to read any of his writings or anything written about him, at least take a few hours to watch the 1970 film Patton.  Understand, however, that the film is partially based on Omar Bradley's biography and the Patton family refused to help flesh out the title character for the filmmakers.

Over a year ago, I actually suggested the name Patton to my husband should we have another boy child.  Of course, now our next child is already named. . .and God didn't give this child the name Patton.

The museum is located near the former entrance of Camp Young, Patton's headquarters for the Desert Training Center.  It's a small museum, but there are a lot of display cases exhibiting everything from uniforms, mess kits, rations, sabers, knives, firearms, shells & casings, and many more items.  The highlight, I think, is found outside:  TANKS.  Lots and lots of tanks.  Even my little one liked the tanks.

The museum also has "The Big Map."  Yes, that's the name and, yes, it is.  It is an impossibly large relief map of the entire area.  Let me say that the Desert Training Center was HUGE.  How huge was it?  It stretched from Pomona nearly to Phoenix and from Yuma to the tip of Nevada.  Why was it so ginormous?  Because twenty divisions utilized the DTC to conduct war maneuvers and 1,000,000 soldiers were training there to prepare to fight in the North African theater.

I don't know that I'd recommend such a long drive for such a small venue for most people.  Unless you're a WWII buff or a Patton fan, don't go too far out of your way.  But if you're on Interstate 10, somewhere between Palm Springs and Indio, do stop by for a quick visit. 

PS  Based on how lousy I've felt lately, I'm thankful that I didn't lose my guts at the museum for Old Blood & Guts.

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