- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2006

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

The decision, announced in December by a Kentucky congressman, was greeted with approval by a descendant of World War II Gen. George S. Patton, whose name is etched on the museum building. “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 a year, but its future had been uncertain at Fort Knox since the fort’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, Rep. Ron Lewis, Kentucky Republican, 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,” Mr. Lewis said in the lobby of the museum.

The original museum opened in 1949, and the current museum opened in 1972. It features tanks and other armored vehicles from World War I through the Iraq war. It also contains a Patton exhibit that includes the general’s command vehicle, helmet and ivory-handled pistols, one of which is on loan to a museum in New York. A portion of the Berlin Wall is on display, and a temporary exhibit includes memorabilia from Elvis Presley’s stint in the Army.

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

Patton never served at Fort Knox, but some of his descendants did, said Mr. 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.”

Mr. Totten, 58, a member of the museum foundation, said a museum expansion would still have an armor component, but he hopes it would offer 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 every day.”

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.”

Patton Museum, 4554 Fayette Ave., Fort Knox, Ky.; visit www.generalpatton.org or call 502/624-3812. Open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekends and holidays. Admission is free.

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