By Mike Case
Consitutued during World War II on July 10, 1943, and activated on July 15, the 10th Mountain Division is the U.S. Army’s only division specially trained to conduct operations in mountain terrain and adverse winter conditions.
In celebration of its birthday, here are 10 facts about the 10th Mountain Division:
1. Since 1989, the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division has participated nearly every major U.S. military contingency, earning it the title of most-deployed brigade in the Army.
The 2nd Brigade, which is uniquely organized with flexible and capable battalions ready to deploy and win in combat, has deployed forces to a wide variety of global conflicts and natural disasters across the U.S. and the globe.
2. The 10th Mountain Division’s first combat appearance occurred in Italy during WWII on January 8, 1945.
However, it should be noted that, in 1943, the 10th’s 87th Infantry Regiment did participate in an assault landing on Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. But upon the unit’s arrival to the island, the 87th discovered that the Japanese had withdrawn from area, and therefore, didn’t need to engage in any combat.
3. During WWII, the 10th Mountain Division used “Weasel” vehicles to haul men and gear.
Much like the swift mammal it was named after, these all-terrain Army M29 Tracked Vehicles were specifically designed to easily navigate through snow and difficult terrain.
4. In 2015, then-Gen. Diana Holland became the first woman to serve as a general officer in the 10th Mountain Division.
Holland has since gone on to become a brigadier general of the South Atlantic Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Fun fact: she was also the first female commandant of West Point.
5. Senator Bob Dole served as a 2nd lieutenant in the 10th during World War II.
During his service, he was seriously wounded in combat and earned the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
6. NFL player Alejandro Villanueva served with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan.
While there, he earned a Bronze Star with the V device and the Oak Leaf Cluster for heroism in combat.
7. Werner and Ruppert von Trapp (yes, from the famous von Trapp family featured in the musical, “The Sound of Music”) both served in the 10th Mountain Division.
The brothers fled Austria in 1938 and eventually joined the U.S. Army, where they served in the 10th.
8. Speaking of music – the 10th Mountain also has an official song, “Climb to Glory.”
Here are the lyrics:
“WE ARE THE 10TH MOUNTAIN INFANTRY,
WITH A GLORIOUS HISTORY
ON OUR OWN TWO FEET,
ALL OUR FOES WE’LL DEFEAT,
LIGHT FIGHTERS MARCHING ON TO VICTORY.
WE GO WHERE OTHERS DARE NOT GO,
THROUGH THE HEAT OR COLD OR SNOW,
WE ARE PROUD TO BE IN THE ARMY OF THE FREE.
CLIMB TO GLORY, MOUNTAIN INFANTRY.
CLIMB TO GLORY, THE LIGHT INFANTRY.”
9. In 1994, the 10th’s 1st Brigade deployed to Haiti as part of Operation Uphold Democracy on the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower.
During this deployment, the unit conducted the Army’s first air assault from an aircraft carrier. It was also the largest Army air operation from an aircraft carrier since the Doolittle Raid in WWII.
10. Did you know that the 10th Mountain Division helped popularize skiing in the U.S.?
After WWII, returning ski soldier veterans from the 10th were largely responsible for introducing skiing as a recreational sport, especially in Colorado.