WEST POINT – When the U.S. Military Academy Black Knights take to the field Saturday to face the Midshipmen in the 118th Army-Navy Game, their uniforms will point to the story of the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division and their birth in the winter warfare of World War II.
The specialty of the 10th Mountain Division is to conquer the land. They fight on the harshest terrain, in any climate, anywhere in the world, to protect and defend the United States of America. The Black Knights will honor the past by re-telling the story of the "Climb to Glory."
"Once again, our friends at Nike and the (U.S. Military Academy) Department of History allowed us to tell a story of a division of the Army through a uniform," said Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan. "There are so many stories of our Army. Our ability to tell them through our uniforms and the Army-Navy game has become our duty."
"Our team is honored to represent the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division this Saturday in Philadelphia," said head coach Jeff Monken. "As a team, we take pride in remembering and honoring those (who) have come before us. To be aligned with such a great division of the United States Army that has fought on some of the harshest terrain in the world, makes this opportunity special, and there is no better way to show our appreciation than to wear their patches for the greatest rivalry in all of sports."
For at least one member of the 10th Mountain Division (LI), the uniforms will have special meaning.
Col. Scott M. Naumann, a 1996 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, serves as 10th Mountain Division (LI) chief of staff. He shared his thoughts about his alma mater honoring the division.
"I am honored to see the West Point football team will pay homage to our storied division this Saturday when they ‘Climb to Glory,’ and beat Navy," Naumann said. "This rivalry has the excitement of a bowl game for a lot of people, and when Americans tune in, they will see these young men play their hearts out for 60 minutes.
"I hope everyone will feel inspired knowing the true grit, tenacity and selfless service displayed on the football field will one day transfer over to leading America's sons and daughters and defending freedom," he added. "Go Army, Beat Navy!"
Birth of the 10th Mountain Division
After Finnish soldiers on skis annihilated two Soviet tank divisions, the president of the National Ski Patrol, Charles Minot (Minnie) Dole lobbied the War Department to train troops in mountain and winter warfare.
On Dec. 8, 1941, General George C. Marshall activated the Army’s first mountain unit. The 87th Mountain Infantry Battalion formed the foundation of the 10th Mountain Division.
The 85th, 86th and 87th Infantry Regiments joined together in Pando, Colo., on July 13, 1943, to form the 10th Light Alpine Division. Soldiers at Camp Hale trained at 9,200 feet, honing their skills to fight and survive in the most brutal mountain conditions.
On Feb. 18, 1945, teams of expert climbers began to ascend Riva Ridge, scaling the 1,500-meter cliff to overcome German forces who had thought they were secure. The 10th Mountain Division turned terrain to their advantage, setting up the Allies for a decisive victory in Italy.