World War II. The German Wehrmacht had many well-trained and battle-hardened mountain divisions. At the start of the war, the US Army had none. So they did what Americans do: they started from scratch. They turned a wild idea into a reality and created a unique military fighting force, the 10th Mountain Division. But these weren’t your typical recruits. They were civilians not soldiers: skiers, mountaineers, park rangers, European refugees and others with outdoor experience. They trained in the harshest conditions–from Mountain Rainier’s 14,411-foot peak to their new garrison at Camp Hale, Colorado, 9,200 feet above sea level. And, by the time they deployed to Italy at the beginning of 1945, they had become a tight-knit unit, experts in winter warfare. In the months that followed, at great cost, these alpine warriorS spearheaded the Allied drive in Italy and broke the last line of German defenses to the Alps–and final victory.
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