Every workday, at 6:30 a.m., “Reveille,” rings out across Fort Drum, N.Y. where Soldiers belt out the 10th Mountain Division Song, “Climb to Glory.” The lyrics proclaim, “We go where others dare not go, through the heat or cold of snow.” These words encapsulate the essence - the heartbeat of the 10th Mountain Division’s mentality and way of life.
Units from the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) won the opportunity to participate in mountain warfare training at Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vt. from Feb. 19-20, by being the top three units to complete the 10th Mountain D-Series challenge Feb. 9-10, at Fort Drum, N.Y. The "Mountain Legacy" training connected the Soldiers to the legacy of the 10th Mountain Division in multiple ways. First, Vermont is where Charles “Minnie” Dole first thought of the idea of U.S. mountain troops. Also, over 250 Vermonters would join World War II with the 10th Mountain Division and eventually return home to help expand the Vermont ski industry. The training gave modern 10th Mountain Division Soldiers a practical glimpse of the unique mountaineering skills and history, unbound by weather and natural environments.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Battalion, 89th Cavalry Regiment, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment and Bravo Company, 41st Brigade Engineer Battalion all participated in the two-day winter mountain warfare training. Camp Ethan Allen is the home of the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and Army Mountain Warfare School, where they offer several classes to Soldiers on military mountaineering skills. Events for Soldiers at the weekend training included ice climbing, rappelling, skiing, medical training for extreme winter conditions over rough terrain, and avalanche awareness and survival tactics
Master Sgt. Bert Severin, the battalion operations sergeant major for the 1st Squadron, 172 Cavalry Regiment, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, who has 15 years of experience teaching at Army Mountain Warfare School, assisted with the training at the ice wall and rappelling site. He has a passion for instructing and often does mountain-oriented activities in his free time.
“It is one of the most fun schools out there,” said Severin.
He recognizes that as far as Army training goes, skills taught at Camp Ethan Allen are unique.
“You learn how to do things you’ll never learn anywhere else such as rock climbing, rappelling, land navigation in areas of significant relief, and, in the advanced courses, how to lead climb,” Severin said. “Just the confidence boost that you get from doing something you didn’t ever think you could do -- you’re going to learn how to be comfortable in that environment.”
Soldiers from various ranks worked together to accomplish the training. While learning to evacuate an injured Soldier through rough and cold conditions, the team learned to execute casualty movements using readily available equipment. Soldiers pushed and pulled their simulated casualty up and down steep, snowy hills after securing the patient to a litter, secured with rope, effectively tied into strong knots.
Spc. Kyle Murphy, a medic from 1st Bn., 87th Inf. Reg., 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) particularly valued the medical training and recognized the significance of the training.
“Back in World War II, we fought in the mountains in Italy - we fought the Germans in this type of terrain,” Murphy said. “This type of training is useful if we ever have to fight in that terrain again.”
“Ice climbing was probably the most challenging to me,” said Sgt. Juan Pardo, a signal support system specialist from 1st Bn., 87th Inf. Reg. “It was something I’ve never been exposed to, and it was a bit tricky learning how to get everything down.”
Pardo believes that 10th Mountain Soldiers must be ready for any combat situation.
“We get pretty much sent anywhere at any time -- with conditions like this, we must be prepared for it,” added Pardo.
Not only did the weekend include valuable training, but also the opportunity to have fun partaking in leisurely skiing down slopes at Camp Ethan Allen and surrounding Vermont ski hills.
Capt. Johnathan Singleton, commander, HHT, 1st Sqdn., 89th Cav. Reg., enjoyed his first experience skiing and learning how to maneuver turns and the weekend’s training overall.
“It makes me feel connected to the 10th Mountain history because it gives me a good idea of what some of our comrades went through,” said Singleton.
Mountain Legacy events epitomize the value of Winter and Mountain training for today’s Soldiers while also connecting them to the exceptional history of America’s only Mountain division.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Work, who served as a battalion commander in the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment and worked in the Division intelligence shop between 1942-1945, said in 1985, “mountain and winter trained Soldiers have already conquered one of the two obstacles that defeat infantry - the environment.” Mountain Legacy honors this past while continuing to train Soldiers to win in any condition.