FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Veterans, soldiers, families and friends of the 10th Mountain Division (Light) assembled at the base of Whiteface Mountain on a warm bright day, Aug. 3, for an annual memorial ceremony held to honor division soldiers, past and present, who gave their lives for freedom. As the ceremony began, community members sat quietly, eager to hear from William Morrison – a soldier who stood in formation on the day the division was officially stood up.
"Being here today is a reminder of that day in 1943, on the 13th of July, standing on the parade ground at Camp Hale, (Colo.), we became part of the 10th Mountain Alpine Division," said Morrison, president of the Northern New York Chapter of the 10th Mountain Division Association. Community members received a rare opportunity to pay tribute not only to fallen soldiers of World War II, but also those who have continued to pay the ultimate sacrifice through today in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, they learned more about America's "Greatest Generation" – World War II-era veterans who endured the Great Depression and fought in places like the Apennine Mountains of Italy. "The journey from Camp Hale in 1943 to Whiteface Mountain in 2011 span(s) years, miles and many memories," said Morrison, adding that such recollections were frozen in minds and hearts forever. In the midst of World War II, soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, originally named the 10th Light Alpine Division, endured a year of treacherous training in the extreme weather conditions of the Colorado Mountains. In January 1945, the division of uniquely trained soldiers started their fight in the North Apennine Mountains of Italy against German forces that were positioned on the Mount Belvedere ridgeline. Fellow guest speaker Col. Kurt J. Ryan, 10th Sustainment Brigade commander, followed Morrison’s humbling story with inspiring words of his own. The colonel's deep appreciation for what it is to be a 10th Mountain soldier was apparent in the accounts he shared during the ceremony. "In the spring of 2009, I travelled to Italy and Sicily to walk the terrain in peacetime and stand in places you may have stood during the World War," Ryan said. "I wanted to understand the difficulties of operating in mountain conditions. "I (also) climbed the backside of Whiteface Mountain," he said, "to gain an appreciation of what so many of you did so routinely years ago." Ryan's understanding of division history helped attendees better value how mountain soldiers of the past have cleared the snowy path for those present and future Soldiers who will walk in the same footsteps. While reminiscing about the similarities in terrain between Italy and northern New York, Ryan went to great lengths to appreciate the surrounding scenery during Whiteface Mountain's dwindling days of summer. "God has blessed us with a beautiful mountain day – an opportunity to stand amongst the majestic backdrop of the Adirondack high peaks," Ryan said. "The one behind you is registered as the fifth-tallest elevation in New York." Among the guests in attendance were Command Sgt. Maj. Terry E. Parham, Fort Drum’s senior non-commissioned officer, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jose A. Castillo, 10th Sustainment Brigade’s senior non-commissioned officer, who conducted the ceremony’s roll call. "What a fitting place to have planted our ‘Climb to Glory’ memorial marker near the summit of such a powerful symbol of our nation's strength," Ryan said. "No doubt, an eagle soars above those beautiful peaks." At the top of Whiteface Mountain lays the memorial plaque inscribed with the following: "In tribute to the men of the 10th Mountain Division, this rock was brought by the government of Italy from Mount Belvedere, scene of the division’s greatest battle in World War II."
-- Staff Sgt Kenneth Foss
We have been granted tax-exempt status as a 501.c.3 corporation. Your generous contributions enable our work to continue.
© 2011, MissionCapodanno.org. All Rights Reserved.
Visual Edge Design and HyperDo Media