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The Ghosts of Fort Knox


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LightningWaffle #81 Posted Dec 07 2012 - 17:43

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I remember heading to Fort Knox this past August, hoping to wander around and perhaps find some minute connection to my grandfather, who toured with Patton for a while, and to take in an era that seems to be long since resigned to the history books. After hearing the tales of the museums and the sheer amount of history buried there (in a sense, that is), I was really looking forward to the trip. To add to my excitement, seeing the pictures of some of my family members' previous trips, I was looking forward to seeing a lot more than what I did.

As I arrived at the Fort Know area, I was greeted in the parking lot by a rusting APC, which had clearly been neglected for some time. Not letting my spirits be downed, I continued on inside, starting with the Patton museum, and would hopefully work my way around to the other areas. Inside, I saw those same barracks that Chieftan saw, with that restoration project "still" ongoing (for that matter, they looked exactly the same as the picture Chieftan took). The artillery piece just past that was still in decent condition, and seemed to be the main tourist picture point, so I avoided that until I made my pass out. All of the tank pedestals along the path to the center stood empty, and most of the memorials, at least from what I remember, had clearly seen better days. But, there were two remaining tanks near the front of the Patton Center: an M60 (if my memory serves correct) and a very sad-looking Sherman with a busted barrel (which, being a WWII historian-type, really broke my heart seeing the condition it was in). That's where the sinking feeling set in.

I walked inside the Patton museum, and was greeted by two soldiers, who, despite the fact that their positions at the help desk were perhaps the most draining, were very upbeat and professional. Walking inside, I could see the main Patton exhibit was still there, but all of the other wings had been closed off, each marked for "Renovation". I did manage to at least find some connection with my grandfather, as going through Patton's legacy matched several things up with the stories my grandfather passed on through my dad (my grandfather's exact records were lost in the 1973 National Archives fire; all our family has left are his discharge papers), so that at least made me feel better. The little theatre there still had Patton on the big screen, albeit steadily replaying at the menu. With not much to see, I headed out, but felt an obligation to stop at the gift shop and peruse their wares.....only to find out they had a bare-bones amount, as the gift shop was being forced to shut their doors due to virtually no business. I did end up buying a couple history books, a shot glass (my common habit) and a rather amusing bumper sticker regarding tanks, I left along my way....but not before making one of the commemorative pennies at the behest of my girlfriend. On my way out, I finally visited the artillery piece near the entrance....then saw that it, too, was in a serious state of neglect. It was at this point I decided to avoid the rest of my planned tour, as I could only imagine that the rest of the place was probably feeling just as empty.

Being someone who respects our military absolutely, and has a fondness for the history, thereof, it just really hurt seeing how bad the state of neglect that the Patton Museum area was in. Seeing any more would have probably absolutely destroyed my spirits. It seems that, at least in part, the historical parts of Fort Knox are really becoming ghosts. Again, this is from a civilian's perspective, but even still. It's not fun. It bothers me.

Edited by LightningWaffle, Dec 07 2012 - 17:43.


Reckers #82 Posted Dec 07 2012 - 17:52

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Great post.  I live in Louisville,, so Knox is just down the road, less than an hour away.  Since i was so close, they sent me to Ft. Dix in NJ for my basic (army logic).  I was in the NG for six and spent a lot of weekends out there as part of an arty BN.  By the way, you were lucky to have those barracks and mattresses!  Mine was one of those white frame buildings; in 1971, they were being demolished around us (at Dix) and we were the last class to use 'mine' before the dozers ate it.  our bunks were the lil green folding cots with the 3" thick pad for a mattress.  What a hole that place was!

Edited by Reckers, Dec 07 2012 - 17:52.


Meplat #83 Posted Dec 17 2012 - 19:40

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View PostLightningWaffle, on Dec 07 2012 - 17:43, said:

I remember heading to Fort Knox this past August, hoping to wander around and perhaps find some minute connection to my grandfather, who toured with Patton for a while, and to take in an era that seems to be long since resigned to the history books. After hearing the tales of the museums and the sheer amount of history buried there (in a sense, that is), I was really looking forward to the trip. To add to my excitement, seeing the pictures of some of my family members' previous trips, I was looking forward to seeing a lot more than what I did.

As I arrived at the Fort Know area, I was greeted in the parking lot by a rusting APC, which had clearly been neglected for some time. Not letting my spirits be downed, I continued on inside, starting with the Patton museum, and would hopefully work my way around to the other areas. Inside, I saw those same barracks that Chieftan saw, with that restoration project "still" ongoing (for that matter, they looked exactly the same as the picture Chieftan took). The artillery piece just past that was still in decent condition, and seemed to be the main tourist picture point, so I avoided that until I made my pass out. All of the tank pedestals along the path to the center stood empty, and most of the memorials, at least from what I remember, had clearly seen better days. But, there were two remaining tanks near the front of the Patton Center: an M60 (if my memory serves correct) and a very sad-looking Sherman with a busted barrel (which, being a WWII historian-type, really broke my heart seeing the condition it was in). That's where the sinking feeling set in.

I walked inside the Patton museum, and was greeted by two soldiers, who, despite the fact that their positions at the help desk were perhaps the most draining, were very upbeat and professional. Walking inside, I could see the main Patton exhibit was still there, but all of the other wings had been closed off, each marked for "Renovation". I did manage to at least find some connection with my grandfather, as going through Patton's legacy matched several things up with the stories my grandfather passed on through my dad (my grandfather's exact records were lost in the 1973 National Archives fire; all our family has left are his discharge papers), so that at least made me feel better. The little theatre there still had Patton on the big screen, albeit steadily replaying at the menu. With not much to see, I headed out, but felt an obligation to stop at the gift shop and peruse their wares.....only to find out they had a bare-bones amount, as the gift shop was being forced to shut their doors due to virtually no business. I did end up buying a couple history books, a shot glass (my common habit) and a rather amusing bumper sticker regarding tanks, I left along my way....but not before making one of the commemorative pennies at the behest of my girlfriend. On my way out, I finally visited the artillery piece near the entrance....then saw that it, too, was in a serious state of neglect. It was at this point I decided to avoid the rest of my planned tour, as I could only imagine that the rest of the place was probably feeling just as empty.

Being someone who respects our military absolutely, and has a fondness for the history, thereof, it just really hurt seeing how bad the state of neglect that the Patton Museum area was in. Seeing any more would have probably absolutely destroyed my spirits. It seems that, at least in part, the historical parts of Fort Knox are really becoming ghosts. Again, this is from a civilian's perspective, but even still. It's not fun. It bothers me.

I remeber visiting that museum in the 70's, when it had the huge tank park. Even then I remember the vehicles being more than a little dilapidated.
Havent been there in a while, they used to have a Cheyenne (AH56) right inside the entrance, which my ten year old self thought was the COOLEST helo ever.

SuperChicken312 #84 Posted Dec 18 2012 - 04:18

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Being a Cav trooper. I have a special  place
in my heart for the tankers. Even though I am a
Infantryman. I was a morterman on a 4.2 inch gun track
  Those big bastards gave us alot of protection. Plus they let us heat
up our coffee,soup, etc. on there exhaust deck.
  Fort Knox will always be the home of the armor.
God bless those STUMPS. (Stupid Tanker Under Morter
Protection)

Graf_Spectre #85 Posted Dec 18 2012 - 04:48

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The_Chieftain, the barracks in your pic, what part of the base are they on ? Looks like the barracks i stayed in for BCT in 2008. Being a non Kilo or Delta there for training was kinda depressing in terms of the gear we were issued though  :Smile_sad:

ox2 #86 Posted Feb 10 2013 - 21:00

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Man, How disheartening!! I have put my name into the ring for the 3/1 CSM Job. I have spent 1/3 of an almost 30-year career back and forth to Knox. I got there in NOV of 1985 for basic. We still trained on M113’s and M-60 Tanks, (they still had XM-1s), reception was at the old "Splinter village". I was a BNCOC instructor when we moved from down there to the area by Nash Gym. I went to MG school at Skidgle Hall. I remember all the places in the pictures when they had buildings there.
I can’t feel comfortable with our new Home at Benning. I have property at Knox and I will retire there. It will always be The Home of Armor to me.

purpman #87 Posted Feb 17 2013 - 22:29

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View Postkillakittie, on Oct 29 2011 - 20:49, said:

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!

I may have trained a few of you there in 2000 and 2002

Nihtwaco #88 Posted Feb 17 2013 - 23:56

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Howdy Folks

Many happy Memories and a Few Horrors. As A Reserve Instructor 19D4H and Later a Drill 11B4X with the 85th and 84th Divisions I cycled in and out of Knox for weekend training and 2 week stints as Instructor. We Lived in the old Arnold Complex we called Splinter Village. We Worked in just about every Company or Troop Undergoing training on the base at one time or another. I also went back as a guest Instructor for Armor BNCO Run for NG and Reserve Troops.

One year We had the Misfortune to be slotted up with some of the Most incompentent active duty folks I had every been around ever. Live fire Cav gunnery with M113A1 left two active duty Sergeants Wounded from Open breech explosions on the M60 MG's (Pigs) we were using along with the big M2 HB Brownings. The barrels were beyond red hot. During setup I personally Head space and timed all the Brownings. I asked where the spare barrels were and was told by Higher command that they would not be needed and that no barrel changes were allowed.  Active duty officers then retimed the four guns which resulted in several head separations from being improperly headspaced. During Night fire as I mentioned we had two casualties the First took a 7.62mm Cartridge in the throat after being warned by several reserve TC's to let the gun cool for Thirty minutes or longer before attempting repair actions. After the range was reopened a second repeat event with the same warnings from the reserve side with that sergeant taking one Cartridge through his Left arm closed the range down for the Night. The Extractor springs and Ejector springs had detempered from the High heat they were subjected to. If the Spare barrls had been on range it all could have been avoided. Word was passed down weeks later that at least one Major was cashiered along with several captains and Lt's getting serious bad paper on the Active side of the House.

Many Happy times were had by our reserve units. Proud to have served 27 years total. Scouts Out.

TC237 #89 Posted Feb 19 2013 - 22:02

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View Postblanding, on Dec 18 2012 - 04:48, said:

The_Chieftain, the barracks in your pic, what part of the base are they on ? Looks like the barracks i stayed in for BCT in 2008. Being a non Kilo or Delta there for training was kinda depressing in terms of the gear we were issued though  :Smile_sad:
If you are refering to photo 5-6 and you were there for non-19 series basic training you were probably in the 46th Infantry area (IIRC the unit designation)
http://goo.gl/maps/52SQc

I only drove through that corner of the base a few times, had a buddy as a Drill in the PFTU there....and I think they had a good Clothing Sales store that way too.

I went through reception in the old WW2 barracks, OSUT at Disney Barracks and BNCOC in the buildings ox2 mentioned (just north across the street from Natcher Gym)
When I was last there as an instructor in 16th Cav (a few years before the photos in OP) the base was still in full swing as the Home of Armor, in fact they were getting ready for major changes to the Officer basic training system when I left.
The move to Benning were only rumors..
The old WW2 barracks were as Cheiftan describes, although there were a few more still in use seeing their last days as offices, most were used as a makeshift MOUT paint ball training area.

Summertime Thursdays and Fridays at Ft Knox  :Smile_glasses: ....Officer graduation on Thursday and Basic Training graduation on Friday.

TC237 #90 Posted Feb 19 2013 - 22:13

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View Postlord_pillowpants, on Jan 29 2012 - 21:09, said:

Hell, do you remember where 2/13th ATB was located at?
Yup, I was in 2-13AR too, Eco.
I think 2-13AR was only around for a few years, an expansion in OSUT units due to Desert Storm IIRC, then they eventually re-flagged it to 1-81AR.
(most of the new soldiers my units in the mid-late-90's received had been in 1-81AR, none heard of 2-13)

These were the 2-13AR barracks back then, early 90's.
Disney Barracks
http://goo.gl/maps/3fw6P

Anyone remember the march to through the woods to the motorpool?
http://goo.gl/maps/Hplrm

Edited by TC237, Feb 19 2013 - 22:14.


VampireBat #91 Posted Feb 20 2013 - 07:10

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It has been quite some time, but is the Museum still there?

5thCAVsquadron #92 Posted Feb 20 2013 - 08:46

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I hated knox , but i see the panther is still there. panther is bigger than most people realize. makes wonder how big a kt is.the first training brigade still there ? :Smile_honoring:

Ajaxxx #93 Posted Feb 20 2013 - 15:10

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Thanks so much for the post and the pictures. I attended OSUT at Fort Knox as a 17 year kid just after high school, was my first adventure.
I’m in a job now that lets me travel quite a bit to our military installations and I always try to spend time at the various museums. There are many artifacts that are being cared for and maintained. Ft. Lee VA, for example, is planning on building a new museum to house restored WW II armored vehicles, many of these came from Aberdeen. Ft. Benning has received many of the artifacts that were on display at the Patton museum; in fact, Ft. Benning’s local community sponsored a main street entrance monument with statues respective of Cavalry, Armor and Infantry. They are also working on expanding the museum, I was there is December and it wasn’t finished yet.
Here are a few pictures I took of the storage facility at Ft. Lee.Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Ajaxxx #94 Posted Feb 20 2013 - 17:03

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Posted Image

The_Chieftain #95 Posted Feb 20 2013 - 20:01

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Lee is so pessimistic about its future that it has diverted a number of its vehicles to Anniston for deep storage for a few years.

Ajaxxx #96 Posted Feb 20 2013 - 22:24

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Feb 20 2013 - 20:01, said:

Lee is so pessimistic about its future that it has diverted a number of its vehicles to Anniston for deep storage for a few years.

I’m sorry to hear that.
I was there just a few months ago and was able to gain access to the storage facility (moth balls), pictures above.
I do recall a conversation with the curator of the Quartermaster museum; he did mention that there was a money problem with building a new ordinance museum.  That’s understandable. I was just happy that these things were being cared for and weren’t left out on some concrete slap to rust away. I thought maybe there were a few tanks in there that may have come from Knox.

The_Chieftain #97 Posted Feb 20 2013 - 22:56

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Possible. They were trying to take advantage of the fact that everyone's moving to do a little swapping around to try to make the two collections make more sense, so some 'service' vehicles went to Benning, and a few prototypes would go to Lee. The ones now at Anniston are almost all prototypes.

Vollketten #98 Posted Feb 21 2013 - 04:00

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Just been going through my old files and found some shots from the Patton museum I took in the 1990's, thought I'd share.
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
If you want a larger version of any of them let me know.

The_Chieftain #99 Posted Feb 21 2013 - 21:22

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Some of those look like they were taken in Aberdeen.

Vollketten #100 Posted Feb 22 2013 - 00:58

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Possibly, its an old file with some from all  manner of weird and wonderful places. I always liked the oscillating turret and it catches your eye as you drive past.




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