Guide to the Records of the Mountain and Cold Weather Company, 1950-2001
Norwich University Archives
158 Harmon Drive
Northfield, VT 05663
Phone: (802) 485-2947
Fax: (802) 485-2173
Creator Norwich University. Mountain and Cold Weather Company Title Records of the Mountain and Cold Weather Company Dates 1950-2001 Extent 1 Box (1 linear foot) About the Collection This collection includes correspondence, 1963-1965, and other records, 1956-2001, of the MCW company. There are also files containing publications, news releases, articles and clippings, 1950-2001. A handbook of MCW training from some time in the 1950s is included as well as a scrapbook containing additional clippings and photographs, 1968-1970. A second scrapbook contains photographs, clippings and correspondence documents MCW training and events, 1999-2000.
About the Mountain and Cold Weather Company
In 1947, Norwich University established the first ROTC program in mountain and winter warfare in the country, capitalizing on the army’s need for soldiers with skills developed and demonstrated by the 10th Mountain Division. Today, the MCW company remains unique among ROTC programs nationwide, offering instruction in both military tactics and search and rescue techniques. Additional information on the establishment and early years of MCW, as well as on the famed 10th Mountain Division can be found below.
The following subjects are represented in this collection. If you are researching these topics, try using these search terms in the library catalog:
· Norwich University. -- Mountain and Cold Weather Company.
· Norwich University -- History -- 20th century.
· United States. -- Army. -- Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
· Winter warfare.
· Mountain warfare.
The collection is open.
Many items in the University Archives are one-of-a-kind resources that are not likely to be available anywhere but here. For this reason, forming citations for archival sources is a little different than for books and periodicals. If you need to cite anything from this collection, follow the format below: Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Records of the Mountain and Cold Weather Company, Box and/or Folder and/or Item Identification; Norwich University Archives, Kreitzberg Library, Northfield, VT. Here’s an example from the collection:
Letter from Philip R. Cooper to Sgt. Les Hurley, 29 September 1964. Records of the Mountain and Cold Weather Company, Correspondence file, Norwich University Archives, Kreitzberg Library, Northfield, VT.
Extent: 1 Box (1 linear foot) Collection Location: Archives 501 Language(s) of Material: English Repository: Norwich University Archives, Kreitzberg Library, 158 Harmon Dr., Northfield, VT 05663 USA, Phone: 802.485.2947, Fax: 802.485.2173, firstname.lastname@example.org
A prior exhibit of the Sullivan Museum and History Center featured the Mountain and Cold Weather Company. Text from that exhibit is reproduced below:
The establishment of MCW at Norwich
During World War II, Dr. Homer Dodge (1887-1993), as director of the office of scientific personnel at the national research council in Washington, worked closely with military personnel at the Pentagon, including General Jacob L. Devers (1887-1979). In 1944, Dodge was selected as Norwich University’s eighteenth president. After the war, Gen. Devers became commanding general of army ground forces, and Dodge and Devers began discussing the suitability of Norwich University for mountain and winter warfare training, should the army decide to pursue such a program.
Dodge knew that, with the demise of the army’s horse cavalry, the ROTC unit for which Norwich had been known would not be reactivated post-war. Mountain and winter warfare training offered an opportunity for Norwich to develop a similarly unique and exemplary program. He corresponded with Gen. Devers beginning in early 1947, touting the physical and climatic advantages Norwich offered: a deep snow pack, mountainous terrain, and a Norwich owned and operated “ski tow within six or eight hundred yards of the university buildings,” where, for more than a decade previously, Norwich teams had excelled at alpine and nordic skiing.
Devers visited campus in June 1947 as the commencement speaker and by September wrote President Dodge to inform him that “all details have been completed for the inauguration of the course in mountain and winter warfare training…A non-commissioned officer who is a specialist in this type of training will be provided as an ROTC assistant instructor.”
A 2 October 1947 university press release heralded the selection, announcing that significant training equipment would soon arrive on campus — 100 pairs of skis and snowshoes, toboggans, packboards, rucksacks, mountain-climbing equipment, winter clothing and a snow transport vehicle known as a “weasel.”
The Early Years of MCW
Mountain and winter warfare instruction at Norwich mirrored the 10th Mountain Division’s wartime preparations and benefited from the experienced leadership of mountain warfare veteran Leslie Hurley and climbing expert Don Jennings. The initial popularity of this unique program, however, waned in the early 1950s, and concerns grew over its continued viability.
By early January 1948 the non-commissioned officer assigned to establish the mountain and winter warfare training program, technical Sargeant Leslie Hurley (1911-1983), began work with 100 freshmen (about ten percent of whom were expert skiers), including some 10th Mountain Division veterans. Hurley, who volunteered for the post, served with the 10th Mountain Division in Europe in the 87th mountain infantry battalion before becoming a mountain training instructor at Camp Carson, Colorado. Hurley’s training curriculum at Norwich resembled closely the 10th Mountain Division program at Camp Hale, Colorado — basic mountaineering and survival skills in the first year; more extensive instruction in
snowshoeing, skiing, tracking, survival and marksmanship during the second.
Sergeant first class Don Jennings (1928-2003) — the second MCW training instructor — enlisted in the army in 1946, serving in the 38th mountain infantry and as a member of the U.S. army rock climbing demonstration team at Camp Carson, Colorado. As the MCW “experiment’ evolved, Jennings recalled that the “only people who could be in the mountain cold weather program…were boy scouts, or had some mountain training or were collegiate skiers, and took several recommendations from ski patrol members to get in…”
In 1951, TSgt. Hurley left for additional military training in Austria and selected SFC Jennings to manage the ROTC program. Jennings served for two years before returning to the regular army in 1953. Reversals in the program during their absence in 1953-55, however, led to a steep decline in student participation. By 1955, only three cadet members remained, placing the future of MCW training at Norwich in doubt.
World War II Ski Troops
The 10th Mountain Division grew out of a fireside conversation among friends at a Vermont inn and became one of the most celebrated units of World War II, helping secure allied victory in Italy in 1945. More than 30,000 men served in the “ski troops.”
The Origin of the 10th
In February 1940, insurance broker and national ski patrol system chairman Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole (1899-1976), olympic skiers Bob Livermore and Alex Bright and national ski association president Roger Langley gathered at the Orvis inn in Manchester, Vermont, after a day of skiing. As they discussed the success of Finnish ski troops in a 1939 battle against the Russians, the skiing activists agreed on the need for American soldiers with similar skills.
Dole tenaciously pursued the idea; he wrote hundreds of letters, met with General George C. Marshall, and, in late 1941, just prior to U.S. entry into World War II, persuaded the war department to activate the first mountain combat unit — the 1st battalion of the 87th mountain infantry regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington. Dole, as chairman of the NSPS, also headed up recruitment as the army relied for the first time on a civilian organization to fill the specialized slots.
A Home at Camp Hale
While Dole recruited troops, the army scouted a more suitable location for mountain warfare training, finally settling on a narrow basin high in the Colorado Rockies at Pando, near Leadville. Construction for Camp Hale began in April 1942 and, in only eight months, nearly 40,000 workers constructed a facility designed to house more than 20,000 soldiers and 11,000 pack animals. By the end of the war nearly 33,000 men had served in the 10th Mountain Division.
At the same time, the army quartermaster corps worked with private sporting goods manufacturers, including L.L.Bean and Eddie Bauer, to develop lightweight, durable and standardized gear, using available materials not otherwise required for the war effort. The cost for such unique equipment reached nearly $1,000.00 per soldier.
Although the “ski troops” were glamorized in newspapers and film, they faced rigorous training
and daunting conditions: average snow fall of twelve feet, winter temperatures that routinely dropped to thirty degrees below zero, and Pando cough, a condition caused by coal pollution from the camp’s coal stoves. Troops were required to carry upward of ninety pounds of equipment during training maneuvers. The 1944 “D” series became known as one of the most grueling exercises in the history of the American military. Soldiers spent three weeks in the mountains surrounding Camp Hale, often in blizzards. While there were no fatalities on the maneuvers, nearly 2,000 men were sickened or injured.
Service in Europe
The 10th was deployed for European service in mid-1944 to assist the fifth army’s assault on well-protected German lines in the Italian Apennine mountains near Mt. Belvedere. The February 1945 night assault on Riva Ridge, up a 1,500-foot sheer cliff, brought the division fame, and the American army a critical vistory in Italy, pushing the Germans back across the Po River and hastening the Nazi surrender. Nearly 1,000 members of the division were killed during the fighting in Italy.
The Legacy of the 10th
The 10th Mountain Divison’s role evolved in the decade after World War II to encompass training and infantry operations, in response to the changing needs of the army, before deactivation in the late 1950s, Many of the division’s veterans played pivotal roles in the burgeoning postwar American ski industry. In the 1980s, the 10th Mountain Division reformed, to begin vitally important service in peacekeeping operations at home and in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean and in military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Evolution of the 10th
By September 1945, Camp Hale was dormant and, within three months, the 10th Mountain Division was deactivated. Hundreds of division veterans directed their skills and energies toward the rapidly developing American ski industry and founded or managed seventeen ski areas and more than thirty ski schools, including several in Vermont. Others established manufacturing businesses in support of skiing, published industry tabloids, including Skiing magazine, and founded skiing and environmental service organizations.
The 10th was reestablished in 1948 as an important training division through the Korean War, and became a critical infantry component of NATO military presence in West Germany during the early years of the Cold War until 1958, when it was deactivated once again. In 1985, Fort Drum, NY, became the new home of the 10th Mountain Division (light infantry). Designed to be a rapidly mobile and responsive infantry division, the 10th became the first division based in the northeast United States since World War II.
The 10th Mountain Division, 1985-2006
Since 1985, the 10th has been engaged in numerous military and relief operations: hurricane relief during Hurricane Andrew in 1992; Operation Desert Storm in 1991; Operations Restore Hope and Continue Hope in Somalia in 1992-1994, including the battle of Mogadishu; Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti in 1994-1995; Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia and Task Force Eagle in Bosnia and Herzegovena; and service in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Norwich and the 10th
Numerous Norwich alumni have served in the 10th Mountain Division since its reactivation. Some are listed here; we invite you to provide us with additional information on others who continue the tradition of the famed ski troops of World War II. (The list of names provided below has been taken from research done for a Mountain Cold Weather Company exhibit of the Sullivan Museum and History Center, ca. 2008).
LTC Hugh O’Connor (NU 1986)*
MAJ Walter H. Connery (NU 1988)
LTC George Gonas (NU 1989)*
MAJ Michael MacLaren (NU 1992)
MAJ John Palo (NU 1993)
MAJ Mark Maitag (NU 1994)*
CPT Gary Hoffman (NU 1995)
CPT Matthew Murray (NU 1997)
CPT Timothy Gallagher (NU 1998)
CPT Brigitte Gallagher (NU 1999)
CPT Adam Giroux (NU 1999)
CPT Matt Linehan (NU 1999)
CPT Scott Sinclair (NU 1999)
CPT John Bork (NU 2000)
1LT Yulang Tsou (NU 2001)
1LT Brian Lust (NU 2001)
1LT Anthony Alicea (NU 2002)
1LT Alex Ichinose (NU 2004)*
1LT Alex Jorgensen (NU 2004)
1LT Michael L. Vieira (NU 2004)*
1LT Gregory L. Cartier (NU 2005)*
*These alumni have also been verified as former members of MCW.
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