Planning for the event began last year when Bob Scheele, a salesman for Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits, visited the Forge on a sales call and saw the then incomplete 10th Mountain room. Scheele, who lives in Sunapee, NH, immediately thought of Newcomb Eldredge, a family friend who had served in the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. “I gave Newcomb a call and told him about the room, and that whatever he could donate would be put on the wall with his name on the plaque,” said Scheele. “I was hoping for maybe one picture, or even a bootlace, but he was very generous and gave eight great pictures of training at Camp Hale.”
After bringing Eldredge to see the room, Scheele and Dover Forge’s sales and marketing manager Mark Chapman decided to put together an event that would celebrate the service of the division, and raise money for active service members. The evening included dinner, wine tasting, and a $10 donation to the project, and a gallery opening for Eldredge’s photographs.
The Wounded Warrior Project raises awareness and aid for the needs of injured US service members. “We chose Wounded Warrior because of what’s going on in the public eye,” said Chapman. “A lot of people are not tuned in to this, so in setting up the event we wanted a reason for people to come beyond just meeting these gentlemen.”
“The 10th Mountain Division also includes units in Vermont’s National Guard Reserve as well as active duty guys who are locally based at Fort Drum, so it just spins together,” added Chapman.
The 10th Mountain Division was the only active duty winter weather (or mountain) division to serve in World War II. It was formed at the behest of the national ski patrol, which helped to recruit and train a group of expert skiers into fighting men, and made the national ski patrol the only civilian recruiting agency in US military history. After the war, members of the 10th developed the post-war booming ski industry as we know it.
The 10th Mountain Division trained for winter weather combat at Camp Hale in Colorado as well as Mount Rainer, and saw action in the mountains of Italy in 1945. Eldredge of Newport, NH, and Don Linscott, of Adams, MA, who both served in the division, attended Thursday night’s reunion.
Linscott and Eldredge stayed active in the division’s post-war activities, attending reunions in the Northeast and Colorado. Eldredge served on the division’s executive committee, and as the division’s official film librarian. He was featured in a documentary film about the division, “Fire on the Mountain,” directed by Beth and George Gage. The film was also played as a backdrop for the Dover Forge’s fundraiser on the bar televisions.
Both Linscott and Eldredge trained at Camp Hale, and both agree (semi-jokingly) that it was the toughest part of the war. “We had something called D series, and it was a three-week maneuver and you couldn’t have any fires, and it got cold, so we had a lot of casualties from frostbite. During combat where things were really tough, the enemy would be firing artillery at you and they’d be machine-gunning you, and we’d say ‘If this gets any worse it will be like D series.’”
Eldredge, who was 19 when he entered battle, participated in the attack on Mount Belvedere in Italy on February 18, 1945. As a part of the 85th Regiment, he was tasked with taking Riva Ridge, a German machine gun position that controlled the Americans’ approach to Mount Belvedere. His regiment was able to take the ridge with just bayonets and grenades after a vertical climb that, according to Eldredge, was so steep the angle of the ridge provided cover from enemy gunfire.
Linscott did not see action during World War II but trained in the 10th Mountain Division before beginning officer candidate school as a 20-year-old. Linscott was training on Maui, HI, for an invasion of Japan’s main island when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki. Linscott went on to serve a year in Japan then another 10 in the National Guard before retiring from military life.
Chapman, who is also a national ski patroller, said it was a treasure to hear Newcomb and Linscott tell their stories and to celebrate the 10th Mountain Division’s history. The event raised $185 for the Wounded Warriors Project and Chapman says he has been in discussion with Bob Linscott (Don’s son), president of the 10th Mountain Division association’s New England chapter, to coordinate future fundraisers.