Letter to the Editor: Remembering Wesleyan’s 10th Mountain Division of World War II
When WWII brought the Enlisted Reserve Corps (ERC) to Wesleyan, many of us joined at our administrators’ urging us to stay in college. In a short time, a program by the Navy took precedence and we ERC were invited to vacate campus at semester’s close. Thirteen of us had secured the three letters of recommendation attesting to our abilities as skiers, climbers, and/or outdoorsmen, a requisite for admission into what would become the famed Tenth Mountain Division. Our acceptance was not a military decision; it was a matter of National Ski Patrol decision. Thus began the recruitment that emptied every college ski team into what was generally called “the ski troops’—the only unit in our military history not founded by the military. The Division was unique in its beginning, in its arduous training in mountain warfare at Camp Hale, Colorado, and in its combat accomplishments during the Italian campaign in the Apennines, across the Po Valley, and into the Alps. Who were these mountain men, this Wesleyan baker’s dozen?
Class of 1943
Stanley F. Mass, 86th Mt. Inf. (WIA 4/16/45; Silver Star}
Class of 1944
Norman G. Benson, 86th Mt. Inf.
Francis P. Bowles, 85th Mt. Inf. Med. Det. (transferred from Camp Hale)
Richard L. Brengle, 126th Engineers
Donald G. Haight, 87th Mt. Inf.
(KIA4/14/45; Bronze Star); A Wesleyan Chapel window bears his name.
Nelson G. Lofstedt, 86th Mt. Inf. Med. Det. (Bronze Star)
William M. Low, 86th Mt. Inf. (transferred from Camp Hale) Post-war career with Wes Admission office
Class of 1945
Donald G. Dunn, 86th Mt. Inf. (WIA 4/16/45; Silver Star)
Peter G. Griskivitch, 86th. Mt. Inf. (transferred from Camp Swift, Texas)
Francis W. Lovett, 85th Mt. Inf. Med. Det. (Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters and Valor)
Gene E. Noble, 86th Mt. Inf. (WIA 2/18/45)
William W. Wannemacher, 86th Mt. Inf. (ski injury forced transfer from Camp Hale)
Almost all of these elite soldiers are gone, perhaps only nonagenarians Dunn and Lovett are still active veterans of Wesleyan’s representation in the elite Tenth Mountain Division. The story of the Division is a gripping narrative. The Denver Public Library houses the Tenth Mountain Resource Center wherein are myriad letters, photographs, newspaper articles, films, and interviews, all there for any member of the Wesleyan community who may see fit to add this bit of history to the archives. Go, “Ninety Pounds of Rucksack”!