Ordinary military vehicle museums are usually cold and sterile, comprised of vehicles that haven’t turned a wheel or track in many years. The Mech is not your ordinary collection. The majority of our tanks and trucks can roar into ground shaking life! The collection, started in 2002, is run by MGySgt (Ret) James King. Along with a small cadre of volunteers and financed largely by donations, it is one of the few armored warfare collections in the world dedicated to not only preserving historic military vehicles, but also putting them back into working order. The tanks and trucks are regularly cranked into life and used for displays and ceremonies aboard Camp Pendleton. Jim King believes that our vehicles are something that visitors can relate to when they are more than just a chunk of iron sitting on a concrete pad. Managed under the auspices of Camp Pendleton’s Museum Division Office, the collection of over 50 vehicles ranges from World War I to the first Gulf War. It includes Patton tanks, armored wheeled and tracked vehicles, trucks, jeeps and amphibious vehicles. The vehicles were all transferred from the USMC, or acquired by the collection from numerous storage facilities. A few have survived stints on live-firing ranges or rescued from duty as metal monuments. Other machines, such as the M50 Ontos, bear scars from action with the enemy at Hue City. The collection building itself is an important piece of Base history, as it was the terminal building for the railroads that serviced the base shortly after its purchase in 1942. Many a Marine arrived at Camp Pendleton at this terminal to begin their training for WWII and Korean War battlefields.

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