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Yuma Proving Ground Heritage Center

Years Past

The WWII activities associated with the Desert Training Center / California – Arizona Maneuver Area (DTC / C-AMA), the bridge test activities at the Yuma Test Branch, and the material testing at Camp Seeley CA have all contributed to our Heritage of ensuring that our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have the proper equipment and materials that will work in the climactic extremes of the desert, tropics and arctic. We know this because we test for the best; the best materials and equipment for the best military force in the World. That Heritage of excellence continued as the Yuma Test Station became the full spectrum test site known as the US Army Yuma Proving Ground. The Museum Activity and Heritage Center of YPG tells this story.

Following the launch by the Soviet Union of Sputnik, the US Army got into the Rocket Business in a major way. Some of the Rocket testing of the tactical rockets came to the Yuma Test Station. The XM-31 Honest John was a truck mounted, 760mm Rocket. This was the first surface to surface rocket that was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Testing began in 1951 and the item entered service in 1953. The XM-51 "Little John" was a trailer mounted, 320mm Rocket capable of delivering conventional or nuclear warheads. This interim system was only used for training or testing of the system. Both of these systems, along with an extra rocket painted for testing purposes, are located in Brooks' park and interpretive center.

The M60 Main Battle Tank was the last of the Patton Tank series. This early model was used in developmental testing at YPG. Following the acceptance of this model, this tank was used in the Acceptance Proof Testing of the 105mm munitions.

Two of the most iconic items associated with the Vietnam War as displayed in our 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War gallery. As an Official DoD Commemorative Partner this gallery and the associated hallway are much appreciated by our public and especially the Vietnam Vets who feel welcomed and appreciated here. Using reproductions of Army Art, the public is drawn to the subject in a way that is quite different than the usual depiction of the war.

The US Army Yuma Proving Ground is responsible for test and evaluation of materials and systems in the three (3) climactic extremes; desert, arctic and the Tropics. This exhibit ties some WWII history to the Tropic Regions testing and displays another iconic item of issue, the Machete.

In 1940 FDR received authorization to conduct the first peacetime draft along with the authority to Federalize the National Guard. The Arizona NG was the 158th Infantry Regiment. They were sent to Panama to guard this strategically important seaway. Many of the soldiers from the Yuma area became part of the "Jungle Experimental Platoon", led by Captain Cresson Kearney the "Jungle Experiment Officer" of the Panama Mobile Defense Force. SFC George "Tex" Ferguson of the 158th Infantry Regiment was the Platoon Sergeant of the Experimental Platoon. He was from Yuma AZ.

"Tex" related to Cpt Kearney how the M-1916 Bolo knife was not a very good implement and was completely inadequate for chopping through the heavy growth of a Tropical Jungle. Cpt Kearney related how he grew to rely on his Collins Machete while working for Standard Oil of Venezuela. He ordered 1500 Collins Machetes and the Jungle Platoon tested them for their efficiency in the Jungle. SFC Ferguson wrote up the results of the experiment and the conclusion that the Army should adopt the Collins Machete. As tested they used a Collins Model 37 Machete with an 18" blade and a Number 6 handle in black Bakelite plastic. This is the first example of a Test conducted on Army material in the Tropics.

Kearny and Ferguson took the report and the test items to the Quartermaster Corps and succeded in the adaptation of the Collins as the M 1942 Machete.

On exhibit is a 1944 marked US Machete manufactured by Collins, with canvas sheath along with a Model 1942 from the Vietnam era with a plastic sheath, displayed with a reproduction M1916 Bolo, similar to what Ferguson had been issued.

The 158th Infantry would become the famed 158th Regimental Combat Team (RCT). They would be deployed to the Pacific Theater of Operations as the only Jungle Experts in the Army. Their nickname, "The Bushmasters" is taken from a particularly venomous snake common to Panama.

A complete round of service artillery ammunition consists of all of the components needed to fire a weapon once. For separate-loading ammunition, these components are loaded into the weapon separately.

Components of Separate-loading ammunition: Primer, Propellant bags, Projectile w/ Supplementary Charge, and Fuze

First, the warhead’s shipping plug / lifting eye is removed and the fuze is selected and placed on the warhead. This assembly is then rammed into the breech of the tube. Behind this is placed the propellant charges. The number and type of propellant bags depends on the desired range of the shot. Once the breech is closed, the primer is inserted into the breech. The primer may be a percussion type (as seen here) or an electric type.

The gunner pulls the lanyard, which sets off the primer, which ignites the propellant, which launches the projectile. At the target, the projectile explodes.