Packs On! Memoirs of the 10th Mountain Division

Packs On! Memoirs of the 10th Mountain Division

Packs On! Memoirs of the 10th Mountain Division

Packs On! Memoirs of the 10th Mountain Division

Synopsis

Relates the personal experiences of men who fought with the 10th Mountain Division in both Alaska and Italy during World War II.

Excerpt

European countries have always considered their ski and mountain troops as elite infantry units. When America entered World War II, it became evident that if the United States was going to wage a successful war in Europe, it would have to defeat the enemy's finest soldiers.

However, the U.S. Army was deficient in one important respect: it did not have a mountain division. Charles Minot Dole, founder of the National Ski Patrol, realized that we would be fighting the enemy on his own turf—and that included mountainous terrain. Dole urged President Franklin Roosevelt and General George Marshall to form a specially trained mountain unit. Dole stated, [It is more reasonable to make soldiers out of skiers than skiers out of soldiers.]

On July 15, 1943, the 10th Mountain Division was activated at Camp Hale, Colorado, as an all-civilian volunteer division. Although skiing skills were desired, qualifications were broad enough to include all types of outdoorsmen—including cowboys, forest rangers, and woodsmen.

Recruits with skiing experience were accepted from many eastern colleges and prep schools. World class skiers such as Torger Tokle, Robert Livermore, and Werner von Trapp joined the division.

In order to fill out the lOth's complement of fifteen thousand men, draftees and soldiers from other units were also assigned to the new organization. the 10th Mountain was probably the smartest and best educated division in the army, before I arrived, and scored the highest on U.S. Army tests and qualifications for officer candidate school. This . . .

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