15 July 2010

Climb to Glory: Happy Birthday Xth Mountain Division

 Life is quite funny as to how things come full circle.  In trying to come up with post material, and get outside the realm of only talking about politics, I am trying to connect with a personal past that runs through my family. Like many people my age, there is a significant chance that a family member fought in World War II, and for me, that was both of my grandfathers. 

My paternal grandfather was attached to the X Mountain Division and saw action in Italy.  Unfortunately, my pop-pop passed away when I was a mere age of five and I never really got much education from him.  I've been told by many that he was a gentle man with much patience and a extreme hunger for political knowledge.  My mother has often said that he would love today's media with its online blend and flair, its flexibility to dig, the competition that is created by talk radio, and of course the personalities.  I can vividly remember Saturday nights spent at my grandparents house when he would lay six inches away, in front of the mammoth Zenith television set.  He usually had the mono volume spiked up so the speaker rattled while he watched the McLaughlin Group.  I guess you can say that politics is hereditary, and it's a disease worse than cancer since it persists for generations.  (He unfortunately lost his battle with lung cancer). 

Yesterday when I threw "10th Mountain Division History" into Google, it returned the fact that today just so happens to be the divisions birthday (give or take).  Not only does the Xth have personal meaning to me through my families past, but as a skier, it also holds some modern day context as well considering National Ski Patrol and the Army's historical relationship.

From the link in the post heading:
"The history of the 10th Mountain Division is rooted in developments prior to the United States' entry into World War II. Influenced by the 1939 success of Finnish troops in warfare against invading Soviet units and by concern over escalating hostilities across Europe, individuals in the War Department and the military turned their attention to the status of military preparedness for winter warfare. Troops stationed at Fort Snelling, Minnesota had engaged in specialized training, yet no large-scale maneuvers had taken place. In May of 1940, the American Alpine club urged the Department of War to begin mountain warfare training and subsequently began advising the military on equipment necessary for mountain and winter warfare.
"Additional pressure for the development of elite mountain troops came from Charles Minot Dole (Minnie Dole), Chair of the National Ski Patrol Association of the National Ski Association. Dole believed the need for trained alpine soldiers existed and he emphasized the presence of skilled skiers in the US able to meet these special needs of the military. When the War Department created ski patrol unites within several existing divisions, the National Ski Association reviewed equipment and training and by the end of the winter the advisory relationship had become formalized.
"With the groundwork set, in November 1941, the government created the Mountain Winter Warfare Board to design and test winter equipment and transportation and the War Department established the 1st Battalion of 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment as a mountain battalion, Fort Lewis, Washington became the first home for the regiment and simultaneous with the US entry in WWII, recruits arrived for training at Mount Rainier. The National Ski Patrol continued its unique relationship with the military by recruiting experts in skiing and mountaineering for the US Army."
We say happy birthday to all of the Xth's vets this day and may you continue your "Climb to Glory."

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