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Portola Valley military tanks heading to East Coast

Original post made on Jan 28, 2014

At this time a year from now, about 80 armored vehicles of war from the Jacques Littlefield collection in Portola Valley will be at a new home 20 miles west of Boston.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 21, 2013, 7:45 AM

Comments (11)

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Posted by Rev. Lee Purkey
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

What a shame to have lost such a wonderful piece of history here on the West Coast.

We in California, one of the largest and most populous states in the Union, have had countless generations serve in the wars and conflicts within our nation's history. And, although we have massive tracts of land that could be easily used for exactly these sorts of demonstrative museums and memorials -- and have the nation's best assets of both funds and technology -- we have only small military monuments and inconspicuous museums that hint at our nation's past.

Many of the WWI and WWII bunkers, forts, and gun implacements have been stripped and torn down. In the San Francisco area, our Civil War brick gun fortifications have been likewise neglected, buried, or torn down.

One exception that remains is Fort Point, tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge. Despite the heavy presence in California of the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force (Air Corps) and Merchant Marine (and countless training bases), we have managed to put up only a few plaques, monuments/statues.

In SF Bay Area we have docked a restored WWII sub and Liberty Ship, and in Alameda a later-era Carrier (but all with great political fighting and push back from elements within the state).

Many of the War monuments to honor our past service men and women that predate WWI are in shambles and hidden, unadorned from most people. SF's and Monterey's presidio's hold some of the best and oldest structures and monuments in the West Coast, and yet they are often plowed under for development, falling apart, overgrown, or included within other structures that make little or no mention of their past significance.

In Monterey's Military "Defense Language Institute" Base, the large marble statue of Father Sierra's landing (mid 1700's), donated by the Stanford Family, is hidden from public view by freeway development - and sits atop the buried remnants of the first Spanish fort in North America - its bronze cannons sitting idly in a tiny nearby museum, that was a cavalry horse barn during WWI/WWII.

Likewise, on the DLI base, the large obelisk monument to those who fought in the Spanish American War is falling apart and unkempt. In Santa Cruz, where I live, our oldest cemetery holds a special section for those who fought in the Civil War - the Grand Army of The Republic - but it is sorely dilapidated, and overgrown.

My uncle served in WWII in the 101st, 502R, 2nd Bat, HQ Company - jumped on D-Day and went thru the whole battle into Carantan. He later jumped and fought in the Market Garden campaign three months later and was severely wounded in the battle for Best, Holland.

After recovery he served another 20 years in the 101st. And yet when I officiated at his funeral, burying him as a Ret. Colonel in the 101st, he was buried in what is called here in Cal. the "Arlington of the West", in San Bernadino (Southern Cal). This Veteran's Cemetery is a vast and stark swath of dry, flat grass and flat headstones. It is shockingly unadorned and with few, if any, monuments to honor the ocean of those at rest there.

It seems as if we in California bury our garbage dumps with more adornment than that! I was shocked and deeply saddened. We in California have NO museums to tell the stories - no places to demonstrate and teach about the stuff of the past, important military events.

There is little active expression of a grateful people here in California to give homage to those that sacrificed and the historical importance of the battles fought. We have countless places and parcels of land to achieve these museums that would be available to everyone - and many wealthy people to contribute.

But history in the West seems only worthy as a footnote - where current or future needs demand singular focus. It saddens me deeply that Mr. Littlefield's great and rare collection (which gave such rare insight and pleasure to those in California is leaving to the farthest corner of our country - far out of reach for most of the rest of the country.

The new active museum sounds like a beautiful idea - just wish more could see it from around the country. We are starving in the West for military museums that demonstrate history in such a way.

I do wish we as a nation would step forward and make available more places across the country that tell the stories of our military history with vivid colors and wide brush strokes. It seems a hope and dream unattainable in my lifetime - possibly ever here in California. I wish you well in this great venture of teaching history thru tangible ways - so very sweet. I do wish, however, that those here in the West could more easily access and experience it too.

Praying God's Blessings for you, Rev. Lee Purkey

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Posted by Ver
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Had the opportunity to see this collection with my kids a decade ago - spectacular.

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Posted by Ver
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 29, 2014 at 8:17 am

editor - thanks, much better!!

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:59 am

Vehicles of war. Looking at them and using them for re-enactments has a purpose, I guess. But what about swords into plowshares?

I mean what are we honoring here? Machines designed to kill people.

The awe that comes along with strolling around this collection, is that really something that has intrinsic value? Or is it a childish fascination, an evolving fascination that begins a stick and a 12-year-old and a mock sword fight?

Tanks and howitzers were and are important and I don't mean to diminish that, but I think some perspective is in order.

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Posted by Alan Miller
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Dear Joe,

There is a happy medium between glorifying war and honoring your fellow humans who died to keep you and your children free - whether or not it was their choice to be involved. Unless you were in combat yourself I would ask you to give more consideration to those who died defending your rights.

While nothing besides direct participation can give us the proper perspective on what war truly is, movies and books do not give us nearly as good a sense of what happened compared to tangible assets like ships and tanks. Those who do not appreciate the reality (horror) of war on a gut level are far more likely to allow it to occur again. The tank museum allowed us to climb into a tank and experience the cramped quarters and brutal steel. Without a chance to imagine being fired upon while in a blind death trap of panic, tanks (and war) seem more interesting and fun than terrifying and worthy of avoiding.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Good point, Alan. I flew for about 30 minutes in a B-25 bomber, the same one flown by Joseph Heller as a bombardier, and the bomber in "Catch 22."

It was terrifying to imagine having to aim bombs while being shot at, and with nothing between you and the AA shells but a few pieces of equipment and some plexiglass. There wasn't even a seat.

Getting out of there to a safer part of the plane involved crawling through what, in any other situation, would have been an air conditioning duct.

I don't think the "defending your rights" argument holds water in all cases. It's trotted out too often as an excuse for going to war. If you argue with it, you're somehow not a patriot.

And the facts of World War II belie the sacred aura that surrounds the U.S. involvement. "Catch 22" was anti-war and devastating. So apparently is "Kill Anything That Moves," a new account of horrific behavior by American soldiers in Vietnam.

The truth about war is what is important. I agree that the tanks could serve that purpose. But that gratitude needs a counterpoint. Gratitude by itself is too simple and easily used for nefarious ends.

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Posted by Phil
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2014 at 11:34 pm

CNN Money June 18th, 2014

They are now headed for auction!

Buy your own tank... or missile launcher

A huge private collection of military vehicles is being auctioned off in California.

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Posted by Phil
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Alen and Joe,
What you are honoring here is the men that died for your freedom, your freedom to write what the two of you ha e chosen to write.

Without that right to freedom, none of us would be allowed to right anthing here!

Wise up!

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 30, 2014 at 9:01 am

Stop telling people to wise up. You have a point of view, that's all. I have a different point of view, one that benefits from having served in the military for six years.

Your POV may be more popular, but that hardly makes it more credible.

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Posted by buy buy buy
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 30, 2014 at 10:56 am

These tanks are now for sale on the open market. Great opportunity to buy one and mount it in your front yard to honor our soldiers.

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Posted by Tanks a lot!
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 30, 2014 at 11:20 am

I suppose I'll take two so we can play games with them....

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