Over 100 teams of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers participated in the "D-Series" Mountain Winter Challenge, Feb. 19, 2020 at Fort Drum. The challenge tested each team on their physical fitness, mental toughness, competitive spirit, marksmanship proficiency, and knowledge of the history of the 10th Mountain Division through a series of five events.
The challenge was created to commemorate a month-long exercise known as D-Series that 12,000 10th Mountain Division Soldiers undertook in March of 1944 in Colorado. The Soldiers equipped with 90-pound packs, skis, and snowshoes, marched to an altitude of over 13,000 feet. Over the duration of the exercise, eight feet of snow fell, and the temperature got as low as 30 degrees below zero. D-Series was often regarded by those who participated as the most difficult training of any division in World War II.
"They had to deal with terrible conditions. It was really tough but it brought the division together, so every year we do this competition to remind us of our history and the sacrifices that those Soldiers made," said Maj. John Sowder, the D-Series event coordinator.
76 years after the original D-Series, the 10th Mountain Division commemorated the original division Soldiers and the things they endured by hosting the Mountain Winter Challenge. Nearly every company, battery, and troop on Fort Drum selected a team of anywhere from 5 to 13 Soldiers to compete against the other units. Each of the four events was scored in a point-based system for each event.
The events included a Squad Advanced Marksmanship Trainer "Workout of the Day," a ruck march and land navigation movement exercise, a cognitive ability test, and a stress shoot live-fire exercise.
"Soldiers from all across the division are teamed up and are coming through the range for a stress shoot, where they complete exercises before firing at targets within a time limit," said Staff Sgt. James Jenkins, a range safety officer with E Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
The intent of the challenge was to help Soldiers gain a greater appreciation for their 10th Mountain Division predecessors and the challenges that they overcame, as well as to help the Soldiers gain more confidence in their fitness and abilities.
"The Soldiers are enjoying it," Jenkins said. "They like the environment that it's being conducted in and the competition level."
The teams competed against one another in several categories to encourage a competitive spirit and good sportsmanship. Awards were given to the best teams in each event, as well as the overall best score. The winners were 10th Mountain Division (LI) command group for command team category; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment for maneuver category; Company E, 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion for support category; Company B, 2nd Bn., 87th Inf. Reg. for dismounted movement category; HHC, 41st BEB for SAM-T category; command group of 2nd Bn., 22nd Inf. Reg. for stress shoot category; Battery C, 3rd Bn., 6th Field Artillery Regiment for cognitive category. The overall winner of the event was HHC, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. Reg.