10th Mountain Division

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Veterans' Day 2013

Veterans’ Day 2013 World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.” -- U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs 13poster_highres

Changes at Pando

The narrow, crescent-shaped valley where Camp Hale was to be built had a train stop at the northern end, Pando, and meadows and woods at the south-eastern end called Eagle Park.  In 1898, Col. Lew Frances of Pando cut and shipped timber from his ranch through Leadville.  By 1922, Herman Stein had incorporated the Pando Sheep and Land Company, using Eagle Park as high grazing land.  The Isabell Ranch in Eagle Park was famous for its lettuce and spinach grown by Denny Isabell and after him, the Dump Family  and in the  1930s, Frank Byers.  It was 1,200 acres of Frank Byers’ ranch, including the ice ponds operated by the Rio Grande railroad,  that changed beyond recognition when the official news broke in April 1942 that the Army would be building a cantonment at Pando.

February 18-25, 1945

January 1945, sixty-six years ago now, marked the beginning of the 10th Mountain Division’s campaign to secure Riva Ridge and the Belvedere massif, controlled by the German  Panzer Corps and the Mountain Corps.  In order to get to the Apennines, the 10th moved through Italy at night.  Rain and wet snow turned hazardous roads to mud.  Regular small-arms fire from German patrols provided tension.   All three regiments, 85th, 86th, 87th, set up between the Serchio River and the base of Mt. Belvedere.

Pando (not a typo)

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States finally committed to World War II.   The 1st Battalion (Reinforced) 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, activated on November 15, 1941, at Fort Lewis, Washington, needed a place large enough to train for division-sized maneuvers and where they could fire live ammunition.   The place the Army found was Pando, a settlement located at the northern end of the Pando Valley, on the main line of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and U.S. Highway 24.  It was known primarily for its ice ponds, used to furnish ice for shipping produce by rail.  Here they built Camp Hale, named after Brigadier General Irving Hale, a Colorado hero of the Spanish American War.