Colorado has had its share of heroes, and the brave men of the 10th Mountain Division who fought in World War II are clearly among them.
Colorado has had its share of heroes, and the brave men of the 10th Mountain Division who fought in World War II are clearly among them. They were the only division of the U.S. military who fought on skis and Colorado's own Camp Hale (now Ski Cooper) was lucky enough to host them during their training. Francis Lovett, a former 10th Mountain Division medic, told me all about his experiences at Camp Hale, fighting overseas in Italy, and all the great men he met along the way.
At 20 years of age, Mr. Lovett joined the 10th after the U.S. Ski Patrol came through his New England college searching for young men to recruit. Why did he do it?
"Skiing seemed glamorous and exciting!" he admits. Soon enough, Mr. Lovett found that, mostly, this was not the case. First of all, every 10th member had to carry a 90 pound rucksack around at all times, plus a pair of heavy, wooden skis! But lugging heavy gear certainly wasn't the worst part, as Mr. Lovett soon found out. He participated in all of the battles that the 10th fought in! Amazingly, the only injury Mr. Lovett sustained was a hurt shoulder, re-injured from a high school wrestling match.
As a medic, it was Mr. Lovett's job to take care of the wounded and injured men. He says the worst part of his time as a medic was when he would fix up and take care of men with bullet wounds, only to have to leave them behind to take care of more injured men further ahead. After three years and three months in the service, some time spent fighting overseas, some spent training at Camp Hale, the war ended and Mr. Lovett no longer had to serve. Though he enjoyed his 10th friends and experiences, Mr. Lovett never considered making the military his career. Instead, he went on to become a teacher, professor, and head master. This was partly because he felt a need to educate children after seeing the kids in Italy with no schooling.
Mr. Lovett, now almost 91 and a resident of Longmont, CO, still keeps in touch with his friends from the 10th. Even though they came from all parts of the world, (Norway, Finland, the U.S.A., Austria, and more) being a part of the only skiing branch of the U.S.A. military brought them close. Each man chose a different career and life path after the 10th, but one thing remains the same within all of them.
"We all love the mountains!" Mr. Lovett says.