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Patton Museum Of Cavalry And Armor

Fort Knox, Kentucky

1985

By Terry D. Janes

 

In 1985, my family and I loaded up in our 1978 Jeep CJ-7 and headed off on an epic journey from Kansas City to Erie, Pennsylvania to attend the Reunion of the 702nd Tank Battalion Red Devils. Our reason for going to the reunion was mainly to meet up with retired Colonel Bill Miller who was bringing me a four-foot-tall stack of source documents that I would be using to write the history of the 702nd Tank Battalion and the 80th Infantry Division. It was also a chance to get to meet several men whom I had previously only talked to by phone or corresponded with by mail.

 

Before leaving Kansas City, I had made arrangements through US Congressman Alan Wheat to visit the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Besides just seeing the museum's exhibits, I also needed a crash course in World War Two and the vehicles and equipment used at the time. My visit would include a VIP red carpet tour given by the museum curator himself, and a photo shoot of the museum's exhibits. I took along a dozen rolls of film for my ancient, crude 35mm camera. The plan was for me to drive from Erie to Fort Knox after the 3-day reunion. As it turned out, I left Erie the same day I arrived, so I ended up at Fort Knox two days ahead of schedule. Since the curator was not expecting me so soon, he was not there when I arrived, and his staff had to scramble to accommodate me and a staff member was assigned to be my escort. I was given free rein and spent the day exploring the museum and shooting photos. My escort was very kind and helpful, answering all my questions, and giving me a fast education in all aspects of the museums holdings.

 

After finishing inside the museum, my escort asked me if I'd like to go see the shed where they kept vehicles that still ran, and some artillery that still needed restoration and was stored outside. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. This was an area that the general public was normally not allowed to visit, located inside the fort. I shot all my film, and when the day was done, I had learned more about World War Two in a day than you might think possible. After leaving Fort Knox, we drove to southern Illinois to spend the night at my father-in-law's house. The next day, we drove home to Kansas City. When it was all said and done, we'd traveled 1800 miles in a Jeep with two small children in the back seat, screaming, fighting and crying much of the time. A Jeep is not a highway vehicle, and is rough to travel long distances in, and especially so with luggage and children aboard. By the time we got home, I felt almost like I'd been in a war, and had a better appreciation for what it might have been like for soldiers in WW2 to travel across Europe in Jeeps.

 

The film I'd used for the photo shoot was color slide film, so Katy and I developed it in our bathroom at home. As it turned out, I didn't need any of the photos for the book, so the slides went into a shoebox where they sat for a quarter-century. Awhile back, I rediscovered the slides, and scanned them into my PC and spent months editing them in Photoshop to improve upon them as best as I could. What follows are the best of those photos. I wish that back in 1985, I'd have had the fancy Canon digital camera that I have today, and if I had, I assure you these photos would be tremendously better in quality. They are still important, as this last year, the US Armored Force was moved from Fort Knox and along with it, went many of the items that were once part of the Patton Museum collection, so many of these things no longer reside at the museum. Despite the relative poor quality of these photos, I hope you find them interesting and maybe educational.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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