General Patton Memorial Museum: A Tribute to the Heroics of Jeep

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Patton Jeep

The great American WWII vehicle is an important part of Army Commander’s treasured legacy on display at California exhibit.

Every now and then you find yourself again reminded of just how deep the pride is that comes with owning a Jeep.

It’s often an inner feeling piqued by some major event, like a Jeep rally, where dozens of fellow owners are all gathered, sharing their passion for the iconic American nameplate. Sometimes, it’s the simple yet strong sense of bond you get when exchanging the “Jeep wave” with a fellow Wrangler owner. However, at times, it’s sparked by something far more unexpected, which we recently experienced during a random stop at the General Patton Memorial Museum.

Patton

Nestled away in Chiriaco Summit, California, the facility is not only a great tribute to the World War II hero General George S. Patton, but it’s also a great tribute to how Jeep has helped shape American history. From a life-size Willys MB to countless miniature diecast models of the war vehicle, the museum is a visual treasure chest of cool Jeep memorabilia.

Michael Ables, the executive director of the General Patton Memorial Museum, tells JK Forum that war Jeeps are a vital part of the exhibit because the vehicles help put the context of the war in a real tangible context. “The Jeeps embody what World War II really looked and felt like and help to engage all generations in learning about the men and women who continue to serve our country,” says Ables. “We are trying to share the stories properly.”

In addition to the Willys MB on display, the museum has another life-size model that is currently being restored as part of the museum’s expansion.

It’s a bit unclear if a Willys Jeep was one of General Patton’s go-to vehicles during the war, and there have been reports that a modified Dodge WC 57 was his primary command car. However, we’ve unearthed a few photos that depict the Army commander riding in a Willys Jeep, too.

First established in 1988, the museum actually served as the grounds for a Desert Training Center, in preparation for war in Africa. Many of the photos now scattered about the facility capture Patton riding war Jeeps. A looping “Sands of War” clip featured at the exhibit, details how General Patton helped integrate the military at a time when many wanted to alienate African-Americans in the service. It’s one of a few subtle elements of diversity found at the museum that speaks to what has become an important part of the Jeep story as well.

Sure, at the core, the General Patton Memorial Museum is about  preserving the legacy of the legendary American leader more than anything else. However, as a Wrangler owner, it’s just hard to ignore that deep sense of pride you get when walking through the exhibit. It’s definitely something every diehard Jeep fan should try to experience at least once if they’re ever in the area.

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