Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home
C. Minot Dole - Adventures in Skiing
I copied only the chapters of this book relating to the 10th Mountain Division. The book is valuable for the author's account of the creation of the division, but since it represents just his viewpoint, it is not a complete picture. Much of the information in this book was included and expanded in burton-1971.
Chapter 7 - The Fight for an American Ski Troop ForceIn February 1940, Alex Bright, Bob Livermore, Roger Langley and the author discussed the potential value of U.S. ski troops, inspired by the effectiveness of the Finns in defending the Karelian Isthmus against Russian invasion. [Note: The book says this meeting was in Feb 1939.] The author describes his efforts, together with John Morgan, to convince the War Department to train American troops to fight in winter conditions. He describes his contacts with General Phillipson (supportive) and Colonel Hubner (not) and his meeting with Chief of Staff George C. Marshall. Colonels Nelson Walker and Charles Hurdis of the General Staff were strong supporters of the mountain troop idea.
The author discusses the formation of the Winter Warfare Board, the NSA Volunteer Winter Defense Committee, and the assistance of Bestor Robinson of the Sierra Club and Bob Bates and others of the American Alpine Club in making equipment recommendations. Disagreements about equipment and arguments about the value and role of ski troops by various Staff officers are discussed. Colonel Muir of the 26th Infantry wrote: "I believe ski training is an asset. Like the Texan's six-shooter, you may not need it, but if you ever do, you will need it in a hurry, awful bad." By late summer, 1941, the Quartermaster's office had approved specifications for many items of equipment. In late autumn, the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment was activated at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Chapter 8 - The 87th MountainEarly in the winter of 1941-42, Colonel Onslow S. Rolfe moved the 87th Regiment into Paradise Lodge on Mt Rainier for training. This chapter describes the author's visit to Mt Rainier during a nationwide tour of National Ski Patrol System divisions that winter. Colonel Rolfe later said, "The main thing we learned on Mt Rainier from February till June was to forget civilian skiing and concentrate on military skiing." He also wrote, "We have learned that you cannot take just any trained infantryman and make him a skier or mountaineer."
The last of the 87th Regiment left Mt Rainier on May 30 for Fort Lewis. There they went on long conditioning trips, learned to pack and manage mules, and practiced piton and rope-work on 30-foot climbing walls contructed in an old gravel pit near the stables at the fort. Construction of a training camp at Pando, Colorado started in the summer of 1942 and the camp was ready to receive the first influx of men in November. Early in 1943, John Morgan and the author accompanied Major Walter Wood and Captain Jack Tappin on an inspection of Camp Hale. The author relates his experiences on this trip.
Chapter 9 - The Tenth MountainIn late spring, 1944, the 10th Mountain Division was ordered from the mountains of Camp Hale to the desert of Camp Swift, Texas with their new commander, Major General Hays. The author describes the impression that Hays, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, made on the men of the division. In November 1944, the 10th left Camp Swift and sailed for Italy. The author describes the Italian campaign through letters sent to him by men of the division, including Lt. Col. Paul Townsend, Lt. Ralph Lafferty, and Lt. Dick Rocker.
The author also includes later conversations with General Hays. Hays recalled the quick decision he made to cross the Po River in pursuit of the Germans, rather than waiting for artillery support to be brought up. His men captured 600 Germans on the opposite shore before they could man the foxholes to defend it. General Dave Ruffner brought back the German commander, who asked him when he had crossed the Po:"Today," said Dave.
"How?" he asked.
"In a boat," Dave answered. "When did you cross?"
"Today," the Kraut answered.
"How?" Dave asked.
"I swam the river with my staff."
"Huh," General Hays said. "He must have wanted to get away from the Tenth damn bad."
Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page