FDRD presents 10th Mountain Division movie nights in Dillon | SummitDaily.com

FDRD presents 10th Mountain Division movie nights in Dillon

Jasmine Hupcey
Meet Your Forest

While the forest floor here in Summit County is covered with snow, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District is still buzzing with activity. This winter, we are adding a few events to continue to raise awareness and funds toward our forest-stewardship efforts. Starting this month, we are hosting our first-ever 10th Mountain Division Movie Trilogy.

In November 1939, during the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland, Finnish soldiers on skis frustrated Russian efforts following the destruction of two armor divisions. The conflict caught global attention as the outnumbered and outgunned Finnish soldiers were able to use the difficult local terrain to their advantage, severely hampering the Soviet attacks and embarrassing the Soviet military. Upon seeing the effectiveness of these troops, Charles Milton Dole, the president of the National Ski Patrol, began to lobby the War Department for the need of a similar unit of troops in the United States Army.

The 10th Mountain Division became a special unit in World War II that trained for mountain warfare in a place called Camp Hale located near Leadville. Each year, the original members and new recruits get together to honor the memories of their talented friends and loved ones. This year, the day will be celebrated on Friday, Feb. 20, at Ski Cooper near Camp Hale. Many of these men's first runs were taken on the Chicago Ridge and Tennessee Mountain Pass years ago. Community members and family, history buffs and local school children all attend the day to pay homage to a fading generation of true heroes.

At one of their events, a 7-year-old questioned Jimmy Nastar, "You have skied all over the world now! Where is the coldest place you ever skied?" Jimmy answered, "Camp Hale."

Camp Hale had similar geographic terrain to the European landscape, and for many, when it came time to be deployed, it would be into the harsh conditions of the Italian Alps. In World War II, they exhibited great skill in difficult, snowy terrain and also experienced great losses. The films we are showing, honor, remember and tell the story of these brave men and women.

Most of the equipment you use in the winter season now is based on the equipment used by the 10th Mountain Division troops of the early '40s. Advancements have been made, but I never fail to think of them on blustery days and think of their valiant efforts to fight and train in the rawest of conditions.

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After the war, many of the veterans of this division returned to this part of the country to help establish the huts system and the surrounding ski industry.

Jasmine Hupcey is the office and volunteer manager for Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. She can be reached at jasmine@fdrd.org. For more information on the organization and volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.fdrd.org.

If you go

What: Friends of the Dillon Ranger District 10th Mountain Division Movie Nights

When:

• 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 — Part I: “The Last Ridge”

• 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 — Part II: “Climb to Glory: Legacy of the 10th Mountain Ski Troopers”

• 6-8 p.m. Saturday, March 14 — Part III: “Fire on the Mountains”

• Bonus footage: “Triumphs of the 10th,” featuring Dick Over (time allowing)

Where: Dillon Community Church, 371 La Bonte St., Dillon

Cost: $15 for each film

More information: Each showing will include a Q&A session with 10th Mountain Warrant Officer Dick Over; light refreshments will be available. Call (970) 262-3449, or visit http://www.fdrd.org.