In November 1939 Russia invaded Finland. Finnish soldiers on skis annihilated two Russian tank divisions.
Shortly thereafter, Charles Minot Dole, President of the US Ski Patrol lobbied to the war dept. and the US Army to train US troops in mountain and winter warfare.
In 1940, Charles Dole presented his case to George C. Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff. On December 8, 1941, the US Army activated it's first mountain unit, the 87th Mountain Infantry.
An offshoot of this Infantry Division was the 10th. Mountain Division. It was formed and trained at the 9,200 foot high Camp Hale in Colorado in 1943.
The 10th. Mtn. Division entered combat on January 28, 1945 in the North Apennine Mountains of Italy, where they faced many fortified german positions. Other infantry units attempted to overtake the German strongholds but failed three times.
The battles here included three peaks as follows: Mt. Belvedere; Mt. Gorgolesco; and Mt. Della Torraccia. The 10th. Mtn. Division was able to lead a successful assault up a 1500 foot vertical ascent to take control of German positions. The efforts of the US Army Mountain Divisions were a success.
553 US Mountain Infantrymen lost their lives during this conflict of WWII between the dates of February 19th and March 2nd. of 1945.
The Government of Italy presented a plaque affixed to a rock taken from Mt. Belvedere in honor of these brave men.
It is now proudly displayed at the summit of Little Whiteface Mountain in New York State.