In the winter of 1941, a group of mountain climbers, skiers, and guides from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado came together to form the 10th Mountain Division. The 10th Mountain Division was the first and only U.S. Army unit trained for combat in mountainous terrain. During World War II, the 10th Mountain Division achieved several notable successes and helped set the stage for future mountain warfare operations.
The 10th Mountain Division was the brainchild of Charles Minot Dole, a mountain climber and former president of the National Ski Patrol. Dole envisioned a mountain combat unit that would be used in the European theater of war. He proposed the idea to the Army, and after a successful trial period, the 10th Mountain Division was officially activated on July 15, 1943.
The 10th Mountain Division was composed of 2,000 men, most of whom were recruited from ski resorts and mountain towns in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. The unit was trained in alpine combat tactics and skiing, rock climbing, mountaineering, and winter survival skills. The 10th Mountain Division was also equipped with specialized gear such as skis, snowshoes, and mountain climbing tools.
The 10th Mountain Division was first deployed to Italy in December 1944. The unit was tasked with breaking through the German fortifications in the Apennines Mountains and helping to break the German hold on northern Italy. The 10th Mountain Division succeeded in its mission and helped pave the way for the Allied advance in Italy.
The 10th Mountain Division also saw action in the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. The unit was instrumental in securing the strategic town of Riva Ridge, and its actions helped secure the Allied victory in the battle.
The 10th Mountain Division was also involved in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. In April 1945, the 10th Mountain Division was sent to liberate the camp and its survivors. The unit was successful in its mission and was credited with saving the lives of thousands of prisoners.
After the war, the 10th Mountain Division was deactivated. However, its legacy lived on. The unit's training, tactics, and specialized equipment made it a model for future mountain combat units.
Today, the 10th Mountain Division is remembered as one of the most successful and important units of World War II. The unit's accomplishments are remembered and honored by veterans, their families, and the U.S. Army. The 10th Mountain Division is a reminder of the courage and dedication of the men who served in it and an inspiration for future generations of mountain warriors.