General George S. Patton Memorial Museum
Backstory and Context
The General George S. Patton Memorial Museum is located on the site of the entrance of Camp Young, which was part of the Desert Training Center of World War II. (3) Many of General Patton’s troops were upset when the War Department named the Desert Training Center Command Post “Camp Young”. The troops recognized General S.M.B. Young as the first Army Chief of Staff, but they deeply admired and respected General Patton and thought it should be named after him. (1)
In January 1942, German troops began to threaten the Suez Canal. The British could not fight the Germans effectively. The Germans used tanks which were very practical for the desert terrain. The U.S. troops had to enter into the desert campaign. In February of 1942, General Patton was designated to form the Desert Training Center so the U.S. troops would be well prepared for the harsh conditions of the African deserts. He chose a desolate area in the California and Arizona deserts. The Desert Training Center was ready for use in April. When the troops arrived in the area General Patton had chosen for the Center, they described it as “the place God forgot”. More than one million troops ended up training at this facility. (1)
General Patton was forced to train his men quickly and effectively. The training was intense and in primitive conditions. “They have no time to do anything except learn to fight”, was General Patton’s answer to the suggestion that the men build storage tanks for water. (1) After being at the Desert Training Center for one month, each man was expected to be able to run a mile in 10 minutes with a rifle and a full back pack.
The museum was built to honor General Patton as well as the thousands who served with him overseas and at the Desert Training Center. Joseph Chiriaco was one the first area residents General Patton met when he came to set up the 18,000 square mile training camp in the desert. The site for the museum was donated by Chiriaco. (1) The museum opened on November 11th, 1988 which would have been General Patton’s 100th birthday. (2)