Over one-hundred 10th Mountain Division personnel, veterans, and descendants recently participated in the 10th Mountain Division’s annual Ski-In, an event that pays tribute to the WWII 10th Mountain Division’s Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere victories in the Italian theater during WWII. These two victories helped accelerate the war’s end in Europe. The week-long Ski-In spanned many resorts including Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, and Ski Cooper, some founded by WWII 10th Mountain Division veterans.
The WWII 10th veterans created the Ski-In as a fun, family-oriented event to remember the Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere victories, those who fought, and those who lost their lives. Trained in skiing and mountain climbing during the war, many WWII 10th veterans developed the U.S. ski industry and outdoor recreation programs like NOLS and Outward Bound.
While skiing at Ski Cooper, skiers performed the 10th Mountain Division’s traditional ski serpentine, which honors 10th Mountain Division soldiers. Afterward, the group attended a memorial service at the 10th Mountain Division Memorial, located on Tennessee pass, near Ski Cooper. The memorial houses the names of one-thousand WWII 10th Mountain Division soldiers who lost their lives.
Joining the Ski-In this year, were thirty members of the Colorado National Guard 157th who became part of the 10th Mountain Division in October 2016. They, like their WWII forefathers, are trained in winter- warfare and stationed in Colorado. One of the highlights of the Ski-In was watching WWII 10th Mountain Division veteran, Hugh Evans, age 92, ski gracefully down the mountains. Evans was inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of fame earlier this year.
The 10th Mountain Division was formed in 1943 and sent to Italy when the US Army needed an elite winter-warfare force to fight in the Italian mountains. The idea of United States ski troops was borrowed from the Finnish, who used ski troops to effectively fight the Russians in its history. Many young men from around the country were recruited to Camp Hale, located on Tennessee Pass near Leadville, for training in mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, cold-weather survival, weaponry, and more.
The history of the 10th Mountain Division doesn't end with the WWII veterans. Today, the 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry, based at Fort Drum, New York and in Colorado has been serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This specially-trained unit is usually one of the first deployed when a humanitarian, natural disaster, or conflict arises in the world.
For more information about the WWII 10th Mountain Division, today’s 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry, the Tenth Mountain Division Foundation, or the 10th Mountain Division Descendants, who organized the Ski-In, visit 10thmountaindivisioninfo.com