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The Ghosts of Fort Knox


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The_Chieftain #1 Posted Oct 27 2011 - 19:43

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Having a couple of hours to spare during my recent trip to the Fort Knox area, I took a wander around to see how the post has changed. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I’ve always liked Knox. Probably because I’ve always seemed to managed to avoid the place in the dead of Winter.
When I was last there, in 2009, it was still the Home of Armor and Cavalry. Today, it is the home of the Human Resources Center of Excellence (As opposed to the Center of Mediocrity?). Strength Starts Here is the motto. It turned out that I ended up on a bit of a trip through memory lane.
Construction still continues at the gates. Chaffee gate has an M24 out front, and it is flanked by an M1 and M2. At least those haven’t moved. Continue driving to main post, and get to the circle, which still has its tanks there as well.

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It turns out that a large number of the tanks which had been scattered around post have remained.  The prototypes, such as the XM803 which had been posted by the parade were considered worthy enough to be transported with the Armor Museum exhibits.  Below, as was. At the top of the article, as is.

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I did find a Sherman and Stuart missing, for some reason I don’t understand, and the Marines seem to have taken their M60A1 with them as well. But there is no doubting for the unitiated as they drive around that the post had a heavy armour history.
My first exposure to Fort Knox occurred over ten years ago, when I reported for Basic Training. I might have been a bit cheated of the whole experience: Instead of arriving on the Bluebird bus and being ‘greeted’ by the Drill Sergeants, I landed in Louisville after the airport had closed, so had to take a taxi to Fort Knox. I never did get my fare reimbursed, now I think about it.
Anyway, back in the day, Reception was in the Copple  Centre. The ‘Welcome to the US Army’ sign no longer is mounted above the doorway, but the M60 stand ready to greet new recruits who will now never come.

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My old barracks still stand, however. Ten years ago....

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And today

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Surprisingly, though the barracks were effectively abandoned today, they left the door unlocked. There not being anyone around to ask permission of, I entered the building which was my home for several months, and went upstairs to the top floor.
“My” bed and locker were still there, although moved around a bit. You know, I’m not even sure they changed the mattress out.

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And in happier times.

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The Indian head on the floor is now long gone.  The building still seems structurally sound, though it needs  a lot of rehabilitation done to it before it’s serviceable again, it looks like they started doing some work and then abandoned it, in a state of partial reconstruction. I wandered around Fort Ord a couple of years ago, it was similar: The buildings were just abandoned, lockers open or closed, beds still present, the odd window broken. From the showers to the drill sergeant’s office, other than being a bit derelict, it’s pretty much just as I remember the place.
During Basic, our physical fitness test was held in the “Fort Arnold” area, the WWII barracks famous to all and sundry as the filming location of Stripes.

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By 2008 most of the buildings had gone, with only a few remaining to serve as urban warfare training. Today, only one building remains, and that building has been moved to the front of the Patton Museum.

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“Fort Arnold” today:

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The old parade field with the ‘razzle dazzle’ scene is also long gone. Instead, one of the larger office buildings I’ve seen stands there now. The homes of Human Resources Command and Army Accessions Command, also taken from the old Ft Arnold area. (This is only half the complex!)

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Something which has not changed, however, is the terrain. This little piece of road should be well familiar as the top of Misery. Sadly, that was as far as I could go in my private car.

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The Gold Depository is, of course, still there too. Warning: Though it's in plain view of the public highway (and you can fly over it as you can see), the fastest way of getting to talk to the Treasury Department is to hang around the area and 'tourist'.

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Disney Barracks are in slightly better shape than my old haunting grounds, though it’s still missing the odd thing…

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The buildings are in good shape, though, ready for the ROTC swarm every summer.

So those are the ghosts of Fort Knox. The post itself, if anything, is growing. There has been much construction of either offices, or the facilities for 3/1 Infantry BCT, and the future for the place is bright. It’s different, though. Those of us who knew Knox as the Home of Armor will feel sadness as we travel around the base and remember it as it was with reminders everywhere. Eventually, we’ll retire off, and Knox will 'always' be the administrative centre of the Army.

This isn’t the last we’ll see of Fort Knox in the Hatch though.  To quote  MacArthur: I shall return.

captaindyllanrex #2 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 20:38

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Cool  :Smile_great:

The_Colonel #3 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 20:40

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Thanks for the memory lane walk.  I went through AOB there in 1984 and AOAC in '88, then was assigned the 194th Separate Armored Brigade a year later.  It's a great post but a bad spot for a tank school. I can still recall spending hours trying to clean the red clay soil off my tank. LOL

killakittie #4 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 20:49

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This brings back so many memories! I did basic at Fort Knox in 2003 and i remember pulling up to that M60 for the first time and i thought to myself it is sooo huge! I vividly remember every one let out a quiet gasp when that drill instructor first walked onto the bus lol. Also while on weapons pull i would watch all the M1A2's coming back from exercises wash there tanks at the tank wash right next to the armory i was working at. Funny because right in front of the armory sat a neat looking ww2 era m4 sherman!  

I remember the barracks shaking at night from distant sounds of what sounded like cannon fire. My barracks looked just like the ones you pictured only i arrived at the very start of winter and it was snowing!

VirgilHilts #5 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 21:09

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Damned shame. I guess some politician will get West Point moved next. Armor belongs at Fort Knox, not Fort Benning.

Phosphorus #6 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 21:10

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Wow you really get around a lot.... :P

SgtFtKnox #7 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 21:22

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Yes, Fort Knox has changed a bunch. I was there back in the 1980's and stayed in the old WW2 barracks. I have been told they are moving some of the old tanks to restore them and redo the Patton Museum.

Viperone #8 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 21:24

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My father was stationed at Fort Knox for four years. We lived at North Tailer court. At that time you could walk to the park that existed just across the road from the depository. I spent alot of time playing on the ranges. My dad  was an instructor on M60 tanks so I got to go in simulators and real tanks. I played in the armour museam alot. Nice countyside and good fishing.

Heavybarrel120mm #9 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 21:25

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I too would like to thank you for the trip down memory lane  :) . I did my OSUT (One Station Unit Training) there in 1996 "E Co.1-81" . It's sad to see what has become of the FT. Arnold area though. Ft. Knox will always be known as the Home of Armor to me no matter what.

kingskeeper470 #10 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 22:14

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That is a terrible shame!  I attended Basic Training and Armor Training (they called it OSUT, but we were one of 3 companies to go thru war drill and attend 8 weeks infantry and 5 weeks armor training) with B-15-4 in January 1985.  I was then posted to 2/81 Armor "Red Lions" in Erlangen, Germany.  Thank you for the walk thru memory lane.  Huah!!

PS: I was an M60A3 crewman.

Bean223 #11 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 22:29

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WOOOOW, I had no idea this was happening to Patton's Armour Museum. What a damn shame. It's only about a three hour drive for me, we used to go down about every other year to see the Tanks...after me and the Wife started having Kids that bi yearly trip had to take a back seat...(ALONG WITH THE YEARLY TRIP TO VEGAS!!!) to raising a Family.

I'll never forget seeing the T28/T95 in person, the thing was M I N T condition considering how old it was. They also had the Panther II, a King Tiger that they cut out a section of side armor so you could see the Panzertruppen Mannequins inside at their stations, an Iraqi T72, every conceivable American AFV that you could imagine....

DAMN SHAME...

I'll have to see if I can dig up my old photographs from the Museum.

jackal40 #12 Posted Oct 29 2011 - 23:52

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Having attending Armor Crewman training in July, 1981 as a 19F (M60 Series Driver), I remember "Ft. Arnold" fondly. I spend the first holiday of my 23 year career there, sitting on the steps of our barracks as we waited for training to begin. What an 'upgrade' to move to Disney barracks a few weeks later. Then Stripes came to the post theater, and the whole audience reveled in the 'I know where that is' as we enjoyed the movie.

Years later, I returned to Fort Knox as an M1 Crewman and ran the M1A2 through one of it's early tests in the 194th Armor Brigade (SEP). When that unit was disbanded, I gained the pleasure of teaching young armor crewmen how to drive at the Tank Driver Simulator (Poole Hall).

Some years after that, I returned to Fort Knox to attend ANCOC. The post was already deep into the feeling of abandonment, with only one working stop light - which shifted to flashing at 9pm. Very depressing to remember all of the troops marching around and not see them there then.

Sadly, the Army choose Fort Benning as the new home of Armor and Cavalry, forever damning Armor to the back seat of the Army. Thank God I retired before that happened, I don't think I could stand it had I still been on active duty when it happened.

Bean223 #13 Posted Oct 30 2011 - 00:05

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View PostBean223, on Oct 29 2011 - 22:29, said:

WOOOOW, I had no idea this was happening to Patton's Armour Museum. What a damn shame. It's only about a three hour drive for me, we used to go down about every other year to see the Tanks...after me and the Wife started having Kids that bi yearly trip had to take a back seat...(ALONG WITH THE YEARLY TRIP TO VEGAS!!!) to raising a Family.

I'll never forget seeing the T28/T95 in person, the thing was M I N T condition considering how old it was. They also had the Panther II, a King Tiger that they cut out a section of side armor so you could see the Panzertruppen Mannequins inside at their stations, an Iraqi T72, every conceivable American AFV that you could imagine....

DAMN SHAME...

I'll have to see if I can dig up my old photographs from the Museum.


You'll have to forgive the quality, these were taken PRE digital camera age....hell I didn't even have a cell phone back then...
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dommo #14 Posted Oct 30 2011 - 01:24

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I was in basic and ait june of 81.

What memories of that place, I actually loved basic training.


19e30
19d30
74D3O

Final skills when I left the service.......

eat3reat3r #15 Posted Oct 30 2011 - 01:36

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Wheres the t28 or is it 95 idk :P

steveo176 #16 Posted Oct 30 2011 - 01:57

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Nice, I am a Canadian soldier and I have been to Fort Knox to train twice. The Patton museum is quite something but what is really nice are the 5 or 6 hangers of old armour from all over the world they are restoring to put in the museum, we were lucky one time when we were there they let my regiment go through and look around there.

Blackhorse_Six #17 Posted Oct 30 2011 - 02:04

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I just can't look anymore ... tears in my eyes ... Like I said in another thread, Adna R. Chaffee must be spinning in his grave ...

jdtherocker #18 Posted Oct 30 2011 - 02:52

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the tank thats missing is in the bottom pic is in battle

but seriously it unfortunate to go somewhere which you remember so well and had an impact on you and its forgotten, or abandonned or not in use anymore. Must have been kind of sad to see.

presentfactory #19 Posted Oct 30 2011 - 04:36

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They are moving one Armor unit back to Fort Knox, and by the way, my neighborhood is across the street from the Patton museum.

cz6 #20 Posted Oct 30 2011 - 05:07

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Thanks for posting those pics up, pretty sad to see though. I went through basic in 1980 there. Some good memories....