First off, a special thanks to blog readers Jim P. and Wayne W. who replied on my last blog that this building is a VOR Station, allowing aircraft to use their radio beams to navigate throughout the US. Always good to learn something new every day!
About 30 miles northeast of Yuma is the United States Army Yuma Proving Grounds (YPG), which covers 1300 square miles of the Sonoran Desert. General Motors also operates a test track on the grounds, and permits the Army to test their vehicles on the tracks that GM built, at no cost to the government. You can visit parts of the YPG, but not the GM facility. If you do go to YPG, you must have photo identification, proof of vehicle insurance, and current vehicle registration of the vehicle that you are driving, in order to get onto the grounds where the free Heritage Center museum is located.
There is a nice display of weapons that have been tested at YPG since WWII, outside of the facility. Some have been put into military use, and others discarded as not acceptable.
The facility has a long history, going back to World War II, when the Army trained over one million men and women out in the desert to prepare for combat. General Patton was instrumental in getting this training facility started. He felt this would be an excellent area to prepare the troops for WWII. The museum has an interesting movie about the WWII training experience, including many first-hand recollections from WWII veterans.
The grounds are still in use today for combat training. When you drive around in the area, you can see small makeshift cities that our troops continue to train in, to simulate desert conditions in the Middle East.
The museum has displays of what the base was like in the 1940s and 50s. At the time, these were state of the art technology. Looking at this telephone, we all started going “one ringy dingy, two ringy dingy” at the same time! (you need to be over 45 to get that)
When testing equipment, it’s is crucial to document and record the test, which is where this Film Processing Machine came into use.
This camera has been in use since 1944 to record rocket testing.
YPG is testing items for the modern-day soldier, including this cooling vest that serves as a base layer, and the night vision goggles.
A lot of ammunition gets tested out in the desert, and we could hear a lot of “booms” going off as we walked around on the premises.
The YPG is also a major testing/training area for parachuting, including high-altitude jumps. They had one very famous visitor to the area, when former President George H.W. Bush decided to jump out of an airplane at the young age of 72. The museum has framed a copy of the autographed newspaper on the wall.
Quote for the day: “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” – Douglas MacArthur