Charles Smith, Bob Trumbull and Lou Vincent at the showing of “The Last Ridge” at Keeen Valley Congregational Church on Aug. 8.
The local members of the 10th Mountain Division were celebrated at the Keene Valley Congregational Church as part of a benefit for the Keene Veterans Memorial Fund on Aug. 8.
The 10th mountain division began 70 years ago while the globe was embroiled in World War II. The division, made up of ski patrolmen, skiers, and mountain climbing enthusiasts, suffered more casualties than any other unit and trained unlike any army division.
Original 10th Mountain Division members and residents of Keene and Upper Jay area Charles Smith, Lou Vincent and Bob Trumbull were special guests to the showing of the film, “The Last Ridge.” The men were honored with a standing ovation following the film.
Following the showing, the audience joined the soldiers to talk about their experience in the division amongst displays of photographs and some of their original gear.
Through the film it depicts the Divisions birth and their feats of bravery, doing the impossible in the mountains of Italy, scaling a 2,000-foot cliff on a cold winter night to knock the Germans from an, “impenetrable perch.”
But the 10th Mountain did more than turn the tide for the Allies in Italy. They revolutionized winter mountain warfare abroad, transformed winter sports at home and blazed a path of honor for generations to come.
Produced by 10th Mountain descendent Abbie Kealy, the program was filmed extensively in Colorado, Italy, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, with insights from over 100 10th Mountain soldiers.
Smith said he has a copy of the film at home but it was great to watch the film and experience it alongside members of his community. The experience with the division is something he is grateful for and he said he loves to tell people about it.
“It was great, even around Plattsburgh people like to hear about what it was like in the 10th Mountain Division and everyone seems to know about it,” Smith said.
Smith went into the division as a young man and said he volunteered because he wanted to use his skills in winter sports to help his country.
“I liked to ski and thought it would be a great place to be,” said Smith.
Once in training, Smith said it was a lot more work than fun but in the end he was just happy to be a part of it.
Throughout the years, Smith and other members of the 10th Division have returned to Italy where they were responsible for taking over Mount Belvedere.
“I’ve been back to Italy three times in 2009, 2010 and 2012,” Smith said. “When we go back, people are thankful, they remember from their grandparents telling them about the division and they are welcoming.”
For more information on how you can support the Keene Veterans Memorial go to the Marcy Post 1312 American Legion, 15 Market Street. To make a donation, checks can be mailed to Keene Community Trust, P.O. Box 498, Keene Valley, N.Y.