Many La Quinta residents aren’t aware of the historical landmark located right in their own backyards. The General Patton Memorial Museum remembers the service of the veterans of the African theatre in the Second World War, and was host to the training ground that made Allied victory possible. When remembering the service of America’s World War II veterans, a visit to Desert Center’s General Patton Memorial Museum shouldn’t be missed.
Training Troops for Victory
Desert Center is a deceptively sleepy little town, but its strategic importance in World War II was anything but. In 1942, General George Patton established the Desert Training Center to train Allied forces to strike back against the German forces in North Africa. The desert landscape was a perfect fit for training troops for Saharan warfare – any La Quinta resident passionate about hiking can sympathize with the grueling regimen soldiers undertook to assure victory. Patton’s judgement on the mark, and the Desert Center training grounds were key to routing the dominance of Axis forces in the African theatre. In 1944, the training center closed, and Desert Center once more became a sleepy California hamlet. It was not until 1988 that the General Patton Memorial Museum was opened, to better commemorate the area’s history and honor veterans that served in wars both past and present.
The Museum Today
While Desert Center is not quite as busy today as it was when it played host to thousands of trainees and servicemen, the Patton Museum still sees thousands of visitors yearly. Its tank yard collection houses tanks from World War II to the Vietnam War, and even plays host to some select artifacts dating back to Leonardo da Vinci’s era – sign up for a guided group tour to fully experience the history on display. The museum’s brick remembrance walls seek not only to honor the memory and service of General Patton and veterans of World War II, but veterans of World War I, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Gulf War, the servicemen and women who gave up their lives in the 9/11 rescue efforts, as well as the veterans of the current efforts in the Middle East. The remembrance walls commemorate the names of these veterans, and are always open to submissions from across the nation. The museum also regularly plays host to a variety of fundraising events for local veteran and serviceworker charities – the recent Patriot Weekend was an exciting cycling event with special musical guests, and its Veteran’s Day celebrations played host to its annual chili cook-off. The museum eagerly accepts donations of literature, artifacts, and memorabilia to expand its collection of educative materials, and always appreciates monetary donations to cover the costs of maintaining the facility and its library of historical artifacts.
The Desert Training Center is an underappreciated local landmark: an essential part of America’s World War II history, and vital to the Allies’ success in the African theatre. Any WWII aficionado or any residents looking to nurse their interest in local history owes the Patton Museum a visit.