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Sunday, November 29, 2015

General Patton Memorial Museum

Above, the statue of Gen. George S. Patton and his dog
Willie in front of the museum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My first trip after retiring was out to the Mojave Desert to Chiriaco Summit and, following that, to Joshua Tree National Park.

This was a solo jaunt as everyone else was either working or had other things to do that prevented them from coming along. That's fine, I don't mind traveling to places by myself.

The first stop at Chiriaco Summit was to the Gen. Patton Memorial Museum. The museum was set up in the late 1980s near where General Patton set up his desert tank training centers prior to being sent to North Africa during World War II.

Above, The Beast at the campground behind the Patton Museum shortly after arrival. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I had been to the museum before. The occasion was for a monument dedication in November 1998 in the "tank yard" by the Billy Holcomb Chapter of E Clampus Vitus. We joked at the time that it looked like someone's tomb.

This time, I wanted to go there to locate and photograph my dad's brick that I purchased in January 2000, a month after his death.

Above, the front of the Gen. Patton Memorial Museum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I got to the museum before it opened in order to locate the brick. Many people purchased bricks to honor family members (or friends) who served in the U.S. armed forces. There were hundreds (or thousands) of bricks mounted on walls surrounding the giant statue of General Patton and his dog Willie.

I must have spent about an hour trying to find it but was unsuccessful. I hoped that once the museum opened at 9:30, someone there could help me locate it.

I left the museum for breakfast at the Chiriaco Summit Coffee Shop. I had bacon, eggs and toast. They cooked it to perfection! While there, I sent pictures of the General Patton statue to my daughter and Denise.

Above, the sign pointing the way to the campground. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I arrived in Chiriaco Summit Friday night after dark (around 5:37) and, following dinner at the Chiriaco Summit Coffee Shop (a French dip sandwich and fries), I headed to the free (!) dry camping area (dry camping means there's no hook-ups) immediately behind the museum. With the exception of the campground manager, I was the only camper there. It was interesting to camp in the desert with old tanks and other military vehicles a couple of hundred yards away. It got pretty cold at night, but I slept great (10 hours) and fired up The Beast's heater the next morning. In no time, I was nice and toasty warm.

Above, The Beast at sunrise. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Once the museum opened, I checked with the front desk about finding my dad's brick. The nice gentleman at the desk pulled out the card file records of all of the bricks and found my dad's card. It gave the wall section (wall 2) and row (row 10). He led me out to the wall and within minutes, we found my dad's brick. I took a few photographs with the Canon camera and with my cell phone to send to Amber.

Above, my dad's brick, finally found! Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After this, I toured the museum (admission is only $5.00) and the "tank yard" out front.

Some of the museum's displays:

Above, General Patton. Photos by Armand Vaquer.

Above, one of several tanks and military vehicles on display. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I was done touring, I went back inside and purchased a brick to honor my grandfather, Merle Charleston. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. I was asked to wait for Michael Pierson, the general manager of the museum, to bring out a certificate on the brick that I just purchased. He brought it out minutes later asked me if I have a certificate for my dad's brick. I told him I couldn't remember if I do as it was 15 years since I purchased it. He then got my dad's brick information and headed back to his office. He came out minutes later with a certificate for my dad.

Above, here I am with museum General Manager Michael Pierson. 

I told him that I run a blog that covers travel and attractions and will do a write-up on the Patton Museum (what you're reading now). We then posed for a photograph.

I then purchased a few things from the gift shop and then headed off for nearby Joshua Tree National Park. I will focus on that in another blog article.

Above, the monument placed and dedicated in 1998 by the Billy Holcomb Chapter of E Clampus Vitus. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I was very pleased with the Gen. Patton Memorial Museum and the staff. They are very helpful. If you happen to be in the Indio/Palm Springs area on Interstate 10 and a World War II history buff (or a history buff in general), I recommend a stop at the museum. It is midway between those cities and the California-Arizona border (roughly 30 miles east of Indio)

Here's some information on the museum:

General Patton Memorial Museum
62510 Chiriaco Road
Chiriaco Summit, CA 92201
Phone (760) 831-0791.

Website: www.GeneralPattonMuseum.com

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