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Fort Knox Museum

Posted By: Dve (mcphproxy2.forscom.army.mil)
Date: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, at 8:40 a.m.

Fort Knox tank museum to stay open despite realignment move

BRUCE SCHREINER

Associated Press

FORT KNOX, Ky. - A museum bearing a famous military name and showcasing Fort Knox's ties to tank warfare will stay open here after heavy armor departs the Army post for Georgia.

The decision announced Monday by a Kentucky congressman was greeted with approval by a descendant of famed World War II Gen. George S. Patton, whose name is etched on the museum.

"Kentucky has been awfully good to the Pattons and we're very fond of the state. We're thrilled that it's staying at Fort Knox," Patton's grandson James Patton Totten of Hendersonville, Tenn., said in a phone interview.

The Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor attracts about 125,000 people each year, but its future had been uncertain at Fort Knox since Knox's role was overhauled as part of military realignment. The famed Army post will lose its Armor Center and School and become home to an additional 3,500 infantry soldiers. Armor operations will move to Fort Benning, Ga.

Following discussions with top-level Army officials, Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis said the museum will remain part of Fort Knox's heritage.

"This is where the history's at, and you can't move history ... so this is where it belongs," Lewis said in the lobby of the museum.

The announcement that the museum will still call Fort Knox home comes amid a campaign by museum backers for a $40 million expansion that would be privately funded. An architect is drafting plans that include a new building.

"This is a big relief," said Stephen McLean, executive director of the Patton Museum Foundation. "It removes a cloud from over our head."

The original museum opened in 1949 and the current museum opened in 1972. It features tanks and other armored vehicles from World War I to the Iraq war. There's also a Patton exhibit that includes the general's command vehicle, helmet and ivory handled pistols, one of which is currently on loan to a museum in New York.

Gen. Patton never served at Fort Knox, but some of his descendants did, said Totten, who spent four years at Knox in the 1970s during his Army career.

"We all lived there for some period of our lives," he said. "It's like a university - we're alumni of Fort Knox."

Totten, 58, a member of the museum foundation, said a museum expansion would still have an armor component, but he hopes it offers a broad tribute to the military, with an Army focus.

He said his grandfather's life "is an example of the dedication and selfless service and professionalism which we see everyday."

Maj. Gen. Robert Williams, commander of the Armor Center and School at Fort Knox, said the Army decided that "the Patton legacy is well served here."

Williams said there are plans in the works for an armor museum at Fort Benning that would be built with private funds, but no decisions have been made.

"I know there's more than enough gear in the Army to support both museums," he said.

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