Public Invited to see WWII 10th Mountain Division Reenactors

DENVER – The public is invited to see Living History, a group of WWII 10th Mountain Division reenactors, when they will appear at the annual 10th Mountain Division picnic from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 21, at Staunton Park, located near Pine, Colorado.  Afterwards, people can spend the day sight-seeing, hiking, biking, fishing, and more in Staunton Park, Colorado’s newest state park.  Cost to see the reenactors is free, but Staunton Park charges a $7 per-car park entry fee, unless an annual parks pass has been purchased.

The re-enactors will be in full-WWII army dress and will have displays of the equipment used by this famous army unit.  “You don’t need to be a history buff or WWII enthusiast to enjoy the re-enactors,” said Connie Nelson, director of the 10th Mountain Division Descendants, Rocky Mountain Chapter.

The 10th Mountain Division is a well-known army unit, particularly in Colorado.  The WWII 10th Mountain Division not only trained at Camp Hale, located near Leadville, Colorado, but following the war, they started the Colorado and U.S. ski industries.  Today’s 10th Mountain Division, which carries the motto, “climb to glory,” is frequently one of the first units deployed for rescue missions or when a conflict arises.

The 10th Mountain Division came into being in 1943 when it was identified by the army that it needed an elite ski force to fight in the mountainous areas of Italy. The idea for United States ski troops was borrowed from the Finnish, who used ski troops to effectively fight the Russians in its history.  Hence, many young men from around the country in the 1940s were sent to Camp Hale, located on Tennessee Pass near Leadville for training.  15,000 soon-to-be soldiers were trained in mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, cold-weather survival, weaponry, and more.

Today, Camp Hale, overseen by the U.S. National Forest Service, still bears remnants of the original 1943 troop training facility.  Foundations of buildings and barracks are still visible from Tennessee Pass and the former ski training facility, Ski Cooper, still operates today as a regular ski resort.  Historical information about the 10th Mountain Division is posted along Tennessee Pass and a special memorial with the names of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers who died in battle has been built next to the pass.

Living History and the 10th Mountain Division Descendants are two groups dedicated to carrying on the legacy of the WWII 10th Mountain Division and supporting today’s division.  People who wish to support the 10th Mountain Division can join the descendant organization as a friend.  Memberships range from $18 to $23 per year.  Visit 10thmountaindivisiondescendants.org for more information about the organization, types of memberships available, and its mission.  People can also visit Facebook if they’d like some historical information about the WWII 10th Mountain Division.  Once logged into Facebook, search for the page, “WWII Elite Ski and Alpine Climbing Troops.”

For more information about the re-enactors’ appearance on June 21 or about the 10th Mountain Division, email nicon@comcast.net.

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