By 1st Lt. Matthew Woods, U.S. Army Health Center Vicenza September 3, 2013
VICENZA, Italy - Seven Soldiers from Workhorse Company of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), based on Caserma Ederle, joined with members of the Lisiera (Vicenza) Alpini group Aug. 24 in clearing the highest 2-kilometer stretch of the Scarubbi Road leading to the peak of Monte Pasubio in advance of the annual memorial pilgrimage.
The Sky Soldiers met at the Lisiera Alpini lodge at 5:30 a.m. to make the hour and a half drive to the assigned location and got ready to pitch in. Lisiera Alpini President Bruno Bertoldo gave the Soldiers some bread, salami and their choice of beverage to keep them going, and then gave them their marching orders to clear the road.
Alpini groups from all over the Veneto region were assigned sections of the 12-km. Scarubbi Road in preparation for an annual Alpini Pilgrimage and Remembrance ceremony which will take place Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The heights and the roadway running through it are sacred ground to the Alpini. From 1916 to 1918, during World War I, the Italian Army maintained a stronghold of the Austro-Hungarian front there at positions on top of Monte Pasubio.
The Scarubbi Road was used to move troops and supplies up and down the mountain until its location became too susceptible to enemy fire, which resulted in the construction of the Strada Della Gallerie (a protected military supply route made up of 52 interconnected tunnels) in 1917. Thousands of Alpini fighters endured the harsh climate at the peak and other thousands never returned from their ascent.
The road is used today by hikers and bikers alike, who admire not only the stunning views of the surrounding area from the mountain heights, but the rich historical perspectives which can only be gained by surmounting the peak.
After clearing the road of large rocks and improving the appearance of their 2-km. stretch, the Workhorse Company Soldiers got to enjoy traditional appetizers and pasta provided by the Vicenza Alpini group against the backdrop of the Chiesetta di Santa Maria del Pasubio, the Church of Saint Mary of Pasubio.
LeVon Dunn and Vittorio Deboni, two English-speaking Lisiera Alpini members, helped the Soldiers swap anecdotes and enjoy the company of numerous Alpini members by providing informal translation services.
With their Alpini hosts acting as their guides, the Workhorse Company Soldiers hiked through the Ghersi communication trench to the Dente Italiano ("Italian tooth"), known as the last bastion to resist the overwhelming Austrian advance which began on May 15, 1916. This is the same location where, in 1918, a powerful Austrian land mine blasted the north face of the Dente, burying more than 50 Italian Soldiers.
For several of the American Soldiers, it was their first in-person exposure to the battleground of nearly a century past, which plays such an enduring role in the heritage and identity of the Alpini, and many in Northern Italy.
Workhorse Company has enjoyed the camaraderie of the Lisiera Alpini group for more than two years, participating in various festivals and the annual Lisiera Alpini ceremony held each year in July with their Italian neighbors.
Participants in the clean-up effort included David Benson, Kyle Lenher, Juan Moreno, Adam Rios, Jesus Sandoval and Rudy Weisz.