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Ome C. Daiber - Ski Patrol and National Defense Papers
I became aware of the activities of the National Ski Patrol in Washington's mountains during World War II through the recollections of Dwight Watson in his mountain scrapbook (dw-scrapbook-p511) and his 1973 interview with Harry Majors (watson-dwight-tape4). Watson wrote that in cooperation with the War Department, the National Ski Patrol agreed to designate personnel to "become thoroughly familiar with local terrain to the end that they may be prepared to furnish guides to the Army and to extend the anti-aircraft warning and anti-parachute defense systems into comparatively inaccessible regions." Watson was a key participant in this program in Washington. In his 1973 interview, he said that Ome Daiber "probably has boxes" of materials from that time.
I inquired about these materials with Joanne Daiber Warsinske (Ome's daughter) and she allowed me to borrow a bundle of papers. The collection consists of several envelopes, file folders, and loose items, plus Dwight Watson's original bound report of his activities during the program. I made digital copies of most of these materials and they are described here.
National Defense Ski Patrol plans, June 3, 1942This is a letter to Lt. Col. Norman C. Caum, GSC, Northern Sector and 44th Infantry Division, Fort Lewis Washington on June 3, 1942. Several incomplete copies of this letter are in the Daiber collection. From these, a complete copy can be assembled.
The cover letter was written by Will H. Borrow Jr., Chairman of the Winter Defense Committee of Washington. It describes an agreement to provide "a basic plan outline together with equipment lists so that the least possible time would be lost in mobilizing the Unit if approved."
Borrow writes, "The prime function of this proposed branch of the service is to have trained guides lead combat troops into vital areas by way of less frequented trail and cross country routes. To accomplish this it is necessary to have men thoroughly familiar with almost every detail of the mountainous terrain concerned. We believe that a field force of fifty-two men divided into four man patrols working throughout the year would prove sufficient to accomplish the objective."
Borrow continues, "To illustrate how this plan would work we have arbitrarily selected the Snoqualmie Pass Area as an example. Snoqualmie Pass is the main transportation highway into Seattle. [...] Should this Pass be seized and held by an enemy force, our patrols have ferretted out seventeen alternate routes other than the main highway approaches whereby combat troops could be guided to the Pass."
The letter includes the following attachments:
- "Snoqualmie Pass Area - Alternate Routes" - Short description of 17 alternate approaches to Snoqualmie Pass.
- "Supplement I - Maps" - Short description of maps prepared during the scouting program, by Dwight Watson.
- "Supplement II - Photographic Equipment and Supplies" by Dorrell E. Looff
- Camera equipment for patrol work
- Equipment and supplies for base camps
- Miscellaneous supplies
- "Supplement III - General Equipment and Supplies" by Ome C. Daiber and Will H. Borrow, Jr.
- Boot specifications
- Wearing apparel - per person
- Miscellaneous - per person
- Patrol equipment - per patrol
- Auxiliary base camp equipment - per camp
- Supplement IV - Foods
National Defense Ski Patrol, Area 12 Report, 1942This original bound volume contains over 150 pages of maps, photographs and other information compiled by Dwight Watson for "Area 12 (and Area 11)" of Washington state in 1942. An explanatory page near the start of the book says that in response to a request from General Marshall to the National Ski Patrol Association, a local ski patrol committee met in October l940 to discuss cooperating with the Army in connection with national defense. The purpose was to become more familiar with local terrain and to furnish guides to the Army to support training or actual operations in the region.
To pursue this program, the Cascade crest was broken up into patrol areas each consisting of about ten miles from north to south, to be studied and documented by four-man patrol teams. Since the Cascade Range was considered too large to scout in its entirety, the committee focused on the region from Stevens Pass to Chinook Pass. Eight patrols started working this region in July 1941, with the intention to continue in both summer and winter. Will J. Borrows, Jr. was the chairman of the committee. A page entitled "Seattle Patrol Key" lists patrol regions and key personnel in June 1941, as follows:
The National Ski Patrol Winter Defense Committee consists of the following men:
- Unnamed region - Ward Pass to Glasses Lake: unassigned
- "Stevens" - Glasses Lake to Lake Josephine: Grage, Smith
- "Surprise" - Lake Josephine to Deception Pass: Watson
- "Dutch" - Deception Pass to Chickamin Peak: Borrows, Campbell
- "Snoqualmie" - Chickamin Peak to Silver Peak: Hayes, Ome
- "Stampede" - Silver Peak to Snowshoe Butte: Looff
- "Green" - Snowshoe Butte to Pyramid Peak: Borgersen
- "Naches" - Pyramid Peak to Crow Lake: Rooks
- "Bear" - Crow Lake to Chinook Pass: Patchell
- Unnamed region - Chinook Pass to ? : unassignedPeter HostmarkWatson writes that the scouting and mapping work is being done on weekends and "whenever trips can be sandwiched in between regular jobs." He notes that the group is "a mountaineering-ski group equipped and trained to care for themselves in the woods and not just the average run of skier." The following guidelines are included in the book:
On an Acknowledgement page, Watson writes that his report is the result of trips made in the Stevens region mostly with the assistance of Fred Dick, Bill Terhune and Bruce Mattson. Several Forest Service men are acknowledged. Alfred Witter, a Seattle photographer, made enlargements. The report includes a short summary of the country surveyed, along with several letters between Watson and various local government representatives seeking information and contacts in pursuit of the work. Here is a summary of the trips reported. The reports include verbal descriptions, maps and photos:
- Instructions for making out written reports
- Sample report forms
- Instructions on use of maps
In a January 17, 1942 letter to Mr. Piper of the Snoqualmie National Forest, Watson writes of the patrol work: "My own region is from Lake Josephine to Deception Pass much of which I have traveled by summer and by ski."
- Trip #1: March 9, 1941: On skis from Stevens Pass ski lodge over the divide to Mill Creek and through the pass above Lake Susan Jane to the Lake Josephine area. Side trips were made to ridge lines on either side of Lake Josephine for views of the surrounding country. Return to Stevens Pass by same route.
- Trip #2: August 10, 1941: From the west portal of the Great Northern Railroad tunnel at Scenic, followed trail via Tunnel Creek to Hope Lake. Continued SW on Cascade Crest trail to Trap Lake. Climbed 1/2 mile south to a viewpoint then hiked down Surprise Creek to return to Scenic.
- Trip #3: September 7, 1941: From Cle Elum River road to Hyas Lake, thence west to basin below Lynch Glacier and north to a summit viewpoint. Follow ridge and north basin to Deception Creek trail and follow trail back to Hyas Lake and starting point. (Report includes remarkable photos of the Lynch Glacier nearly filling the basin which now contains Pea Soup Lake.)
- Trip #4: November 2, 1941: From Cle Elum River road to Hyas Lake then east to Robin Lakes to divide above Leland Creek and Klonaqua Lakes, then return.
- Trip #5: November 9, 1941: From end of Icicle Creek road via Chatter Creek trail to spur ridge of Grindstone Mountain. Objective was view and photos from the summit of Grindstone, which was not obtained.
- Trip #6: November 22-23, 1941: From town of Scenic via Surprise Creek trail to Surprise Gap, thence via Cascade Crest trail to Deception Creek trail and out to Stevens Pass road to return to Scenic.
- Trip #7: November 29, 1941: From Stevens Pass south via Crest Trail to Lake Josephine and Hope Lake thence via Tunnel Creek trail to Scenic and return to Stevens Pass. (Photos show snow on the ground and frozen lakes. Uncertain whether this trip was done foot or skis.)
- Trip #8: February 15, 1942: Road trip to check and locate all side roads between Skykomish and Berne, locating telephone and power lines in relation to highways and valleys, bringing maps more up to date as far as the travel possible. Side trip up Windy Mountain above Scenic for photos.
- Trip #9: May 17, 1942: Foss River road and east fork trail to lower end of Necklace Valley. Return via same route. (A previous trip on May 3 did not reach as far.)
- Trip #10: May 30, 1942: From Leavenworth up Icicle Creek road and up Chatter Creek trail to Index-Chatter Creek Pass on skis. Views limited by clouds.
- Trip #11: October 18, 1942: From Foss River road via west fork trail to Trout, Copper and Little Heart Lakes. Climbed to western ridge for view of east fork Miller River and east for view of Big Heart Lake. Return by same route.
- Trip #12: January 31, 1943: "From Forest Service warming hut at Stevens Pass to summit of peaks of Mt. Fernow for reconnaissance of region of Smith Brook Creek, Union Peak and crest south of this peak to establish better information on snowslide areas." (I'm puzzled about this because Mt. Fernow (Skykomish) is much farther west. Report notes that a new section of State Highway has been completed "to summit," which I presume means Stevens Pass. I wonder if this trip was somewhere near Lake Valhalla.)
Near the back of this bound report are several bulletins and letters describing efforts by the National Ski Association to support the war effort by providing assistance in technical training and the selection of equipment, submitting technical studies, assisting in home defense near northern boundaries, and recruiting of mountain troops.
A March 31, 1943 letter from Dwight Watson to Charles M. Dole notes: "At present we are concentrating on our main highway passes with the view to knowing these regions well." Watson notes that many Ski Patrol men have been drawn into military service and between Lyle St. Louis, Ome Daiber, and himself, they will do the best they can to continue their patrol efforts.
National Ski Patrol and Rescue, 1940sA letter from Charles M. Dole dated February 24, 1943 presents Ome Daiber with National Ski Patrol System badge number 607.
An August 21, 1943 letter from Ome Daiber to Rear Admiral F.D. Wagner of the U.S. Naval Air Station in Seattle notes that for the past 2-1/2 years the National Ski Patrol System "has conducted extensive mountain patrol and reconnaissance in the interest of the defense of our country." In May, 1943, Seattle members of NSPS assisted the Navy with salvage of a crashed bomber in the Olympic Mountains. "This letter is to officially offer our services to the Navy in this area should such work be needed in the future. The letter includes contact information for Lyle St. Louis, Lee Stark, Ome Daiber and Dwight Watson. Similar letters (on the same date) were sent to Major Hamilton, Commanding Officer of McCord Field in Tacoma and the Commanding Officer of Paine Field in Everett.
Newspaper clipping:"Crashed Plane Was Navy Craft," Seattle Times, May 26, 1943, p. 7.
I searched for this article online in the Seattle Times Historical Archives. I believe it refers to the bomber crash in which Ome Daiber and Hank Seidelhuber assisted the Navy in recovering the crew and defusing the bombs. The article notes that the plane was around 5500 feet up Mt Eleanor, which matches information given to me by Matie Daiber and Hank Seidelhuber. The article includes the names of the lost crew members. I searched for other articles about this crash but didn't find any.
Military Mountaineering Advisory Group, 1980sThese papers pertain mainly to the 10th Mountain Division Association (TMDA) and its Military Mountaineering Advisory Group, which was created in the 1980s. This advisory group was made up of former 10th Mountain men and other veteran mountaineers. Ome Daiber and his neighbor Will F. Thompson (a WWII veteran of the 10th Mountain Division) were members of this advisory group. The materials that I borrowed from Joanne Daiber included two large envelopes and a large file folder. All of these were labeled either "10th Mountain" or "Mountain Warfare." I made digital copies of the following materials. (There was a lot more stuff which I didn't find interesting for my research.) Note: The Blizzard is the quarterly newsletter of the 10th Mountain Division Association.
- Blizzard, 4th Quarter 1980, p. 13, "Grand Old Man of the North West Mountain Rescue, Ome Daiber, Is Distinguished Climber." [Ome Daiber has been made an Honorary Member of the 10th Mountain Division Association.]
- Blizzard, 4th Quarter 1982, p. 7, "Ray Courtney, D-87." [Courtney, a heavy weapons mule packer in the 10th, died August 10 in a horse packing accident in the North Cascades.]
- Blizzard, 2nd Quarter 1983, p. 13, "Mt. Rainier." [Describes the mid-winter banquet of the TMDA Mt. Rainier chapter, at which Ome Daiber was the speaker. The article states that during the early recruiting days of the Ski Troops, Ome's letter of recommendation was one sought after by most of the Northwest's "eager-beavers."]
- Blizzard, 1st Quarter 1984, p. 8, "An Important Report From the Military Mountaineering Advisory Group." [Group formed in the fall of 1982 urges the U.S. military to re-establish American Mountain Troops.]
- Thompson, Will, "Airmobile Warfare in the Mountains," Military Review, July 1970, p. 57. [Thoughts on the value of aircraft for troop movements in mountainous terrain and its impact on military strategy.]
- Thompson, Will, "Mountain Troops Again After Forty Years," Blizzard, 2nd Quarter 1985, p. 13. [Thoughts on the value (and limitations) of mountain troops.]
- Letter from Ome Daiber to Philip H. Stevens, Chairman of Military Mountaineering Advisory Group, April 28, 1984. [Contains recommendations on equipment that may be appropriate for mountain troops, including boots, clothing, sleeping bags, shelter, rations, canteen, and rucksacks. The recommendations were developed by James Nussbaum, Ed Link, Dee Molenaar, Pete Schoening, Loody Cristofero, Ome Daiber, and Will Thompson.]
- Ome Daiber resume. [Includes brief information from Ome's birth on November 1, 1907 through 1949.]
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