On February 7 and 8, veterans, soldiers, descendants and friends of the 10th Mountain Division will meet at Sugarbush Resort to reconnect, welcome the new generation of 10th soldiers and pay tribute to their fallen brothers in arms.
The 10th Mountain Division was established during WWII and trained at Ft. Lewis, Washington; Camp Hale, Colorado; and Camp Swift, Texas. The division saw combat during WWII on Kiska and in the Apennine Mountains in northern Italy.
"Following WWII, men from the 10th played a major role in developing the ski industry in the U.S. as we know it today, including advancements in skiing and mountaineering gear. Some 62 ski resorts (including Sugarbush) were founded by, directed by, or had ski schools run by 10th Mountain Division veterans. Others led the development of prominent outdoor sporting goods companies and environmental organizations," said organizer Mac Jackson.
The 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry, reactivated in 1985, is now one of the most active divisions in the U.S. Army, having been deployed to Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq (multiple times) and still serving today in Afghanistan.
"February's event will be dedicated to the memory of fellow descendant and past president Pat Thornton," Stephen Coffey, the present president, said.
"It's no exaggeration to say that Pat was the heart of the 10th Mountain Division Descendants, its source of energy and by far the hardest working board member any group could ask for. Many may not know that Pat was born on the eve of the division's first battles on Riva Ridge and Mount Belvedere. She never knew her father, Capt. Frederick Finn, who was one of the 1,000 10th Mountain men who did not come home to his family from the war," Coffey said.
The gathering features the Jared C. Monti Memorial Race. Sergeant First Class Jared Monti, a Massachusetts native, served with the 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry. He enlisted in the U.S. Army following graduation from high school in 1994. He was deployed in Kosovo and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004 and February 2006 where he was killed in action. Monti received the Medal of Honor posthumously in September 2009 from President Obama for his actions in 2006. The proceeds for the race go to fund the Jared C. Monti Scholarship Fund and Finn-Thornton Scholarship Fund.
The guest speaker for the gathering is Charles Sanders, 10th descendant and author of The Boys of Winter. The book is the true story of three young Depression-era American ski champions and their brutal, heroic and ultimately tragic transformation from athletes to infantrymen with the fabled 10th Mountain Division.
Some of the Mad River Valley WWII 10th Mountain Division ties that Jackson provided include Sewall Williams, 86th Infantry SVC; Jack Murphy, 87th Infantry HQ Company; Werner Von Trapp, 85th Infantry B Company; Rupert Von Trapp, 86th Infantry Medical Co.; Abbott Bud Phillips, 86th Infantry Co. F; and Dick Leo, 10th Medical Company B.