Tracy Talks: California tank museum attracts local veterans
by Anne Marie Fuller
Jan 31, 2014 | 4426 views | 1 1 comments | 142 142 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Pershing tank sits at the General George S. Patton Memorial Museum in southern California near the Arizona border. Photo by: Rebecca Fuller
A Pershing tank sits at the General George S. Patton Memorial Museum in southern California near the Arizona border. Photo by: Rebecca Fuller
While searching for a gas stop on a recent drive back from Arizona, I accidentally came across the General Patton Memorial Museum off the Interstate 10 freeway in the Southern California desert.

The museum is home to more than 20 military tanks, from World War I up to modern day. Highlights include combat tanks, such as the M60 and M47, and a Soviet Union firefighting and riot control issue featuring a water cannon on top.

Apparently, I am not the first from Tracy to stumble across this hidden gem.

“I also found the museum by accident while headed to a convention for the American Legion which was held in Southern California,” said John Treantos Jr., the commander of American Legion Post 172 in Tracy. “When I was in the Marine Corps, it was my job to destroy the enemy tanks. I was the anti-tank infantry team leader.”

The retired sergeant said taking out tanks sometimes required the use of nuclear ammunition.

“These were the days of the heritage of the Korean War,” Treantos said. “We would do training by simulating combat-type surroundings with all sorts of things, including tanks, and drop a small nuclear artillery shell on them. I was 8 miles away when the bomb went off. We would then come in on a helicopter afterward and assault the hill and then be evacuated out.”

In addition to tanks, visitors to the museum will find several remembrance walls, including the West Coast Vietnam, Korean War and Service to South Korea, and Defenders of Freedom walls. There is also a World War I and World War II Remembrance Wall with individual engraved bricks.

The museum was named for Gen. George S. Patton Jr., who had originally selected the area as headquarters for the Army’s Desert Training Center back in 1942. According to the museum’s website, this became “the world’s largest military installation in both size and population,” stretching from Arizona to Nevada to California.

The General Patton Memorial Museum is at 62510 Chiriaco Road at Chiriaco Summit, about 480 miles southeast of Tracy by car. Contact the museum staff at 760-227-3483 or visit

Today’s column is for Dad, 1949–2014. Thank you for your military service.

• Anne Marie Fuller is the host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26. Contact her at

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February 03, 2014
Nice way to honor a great military leader. I didn't know this museum existed. Will have to check it out sometime. Great article!

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