The Legendary 10th Mountain Division Comes Home To Camp Hale, CO [VIDEOS]

The Legendary 10th Mountain Division Comes Home To Camp Hale, CO [VIDEOS]

The Legendary 10th Mountain Division Comes Home To Camp Hale, CO [VIDEOS]

The 10th Mountain Division, today one of the most deployed divisions in the US Army, has a long and storied legacy. In a time of need, skiers became soldiers leading to the creation of the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale, Colorado in 1943.

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These American soldier skiers were instrumental in turning the tide of war to Allied Victory at Riva Ridge, Mount Belvedere, Mount Della Torracia and Lake Garda. One of their own, PFC John Magrath, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. After the war, many went on to serve as ski instructors, establish ski areas by the name of Vail, Aspen, Arapahoe Basin, or as one soldier by the name of Bob Dole did, enter the world of politics.

In the 1950’s Camp Hale served as a training ground for the Mountain Cold Weather Training Command. It became so due to the fact that those serving in Korea were ill-equipped to handle the weather and terrain. I’m proud to say that my father, Tyler Dodge, was one of those instructors. Others with the same command went on to establish new ski areas – Chuck Lewis with Copper Mountain, work as geologists, or become engineers who now enjoy a second career as an artist, and others became business owners or entered into politics.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, what the men of the 10th Mountain Division had for equipment was uniforms of wool and cotton, skis and poles that you’d never see today, snowshoes, Weasels, C-rations of very questionable taste, and more.

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The men trained in terrain and weather that many of us today have exactly ZERO idea how to survive in. Scaling rocks in high winds/blizzards/rain and lighting? Frostbite? Figuring out how to navigate through snow 10 feet deep? The 10th and Mountain Training Command trained for all of that and more.

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In other words, the men of the 10th Mountain Division then could teach us all a thing or two today.

But so could and shall the 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry (Mountain) of the Colorado National Guard. They too have a long and distinguished history. Specifically in World War II the 157th Regiment served 511 days in combat which included four amphibious assaults, multiple mountain campaigns, and liberated the Dachau concentration camp. Furthermore, four soldiers of that regiment were Medal of Honor Recipients.

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On October 30, 2016, the 10th Mountain Division returned to its roots. At Camp Hale, CO history was revisited and history was made.

To watch the soldiers of the 157th march in with their skis and climbing gear,

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To look up on the C Street rocks and see soldiers in their winter gear standing tall and proud.

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It was awe inspiring.

Dole’s son, Charles Minot Dole Jr., attended the ceremony Sunday and spoke about what the 10th Mountain Division meant to his father. “I know my father is sitting up there,” Dole said with a motion to the cliffs surrounding Camp Hale. “That was his life.”

There were many amazing moments throughout the afternoon. But the following among the best and quite frankly brought both tears and laughter to many of us.

Watching soldiers of yesterday and today run a practice maneuver over the C Street Rocks,

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The passing of the torch, the entrusting of a legacy from one generation to another,

Clarence F. Dawson (Monk), veteran of the U.S. Army's 86th division company H, places a 10th Mountain patch on a 1-157th Infantry Army soldier during a re-patching ceremony Sunday at Camp Hale. Certain troops were chosen to receive their patches directly from WWII veterans like Dawson, as the first battalion, 157th Infantry became part of the third maneuver battalion of the 86th Infantry Battalion Combat Team under the 10th Mountain Division on Sunday. (photo credit - John LaConte Vail Daily)
Clarence F. Dawson (Monk), veteran of the U.S. Army’s 86th division company H, places a 10th Mountain patch on a 1-157th Infantry Army soldier during a re-patching ceremony Sunday at Camp Hale. Certain troops were chosen to receive their patches directly from WWII veterans like Dawson, as the first battalion, 157th Infantry became part of the third maneuver battalion of the 86th Infantry Battalion Combat Team under the 10th Mountain Division on Sunday. (photo credit – John LaConte Vail Daily)

Hugh Evans, a 10th Mountain Division veteran who is STILL SKIING at 92! challenged the others to shout out their name, rank, and serial number. And they did. With the exception of veteran Sandy Treat who humorously said “forget about it!”

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In World War II, the 10th Mountain Division brought us victory when we needed it. In World War II, the men of the 157th Regiment turned the tide and kept the enemy at bay. Yesterday as both divisions joined together, the 10th Mountain Division came home to where it all began. Leading to the best moment of the day when the soldiers on the cliffs shouted out “Rifles Up! CLIMB TO GLORY!”

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And as one, the soldiers of the 157th and the Veterans of the 10th Mountain Division responded loud and clear. “Rifles Up! CLIMB TO GLORY!”

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