Editor's note: Jerry Newberry, communications director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and host of The National Defense radio show, journeyed to Iraq for the first time this past March. An Army veteran of the Vietnam War, Newberry is going to battle once again and expanding his reporting duties in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Newberry will be donning his battle fatigues for five weeks, beginning this week. We published his first report Tuesday, and his second and third reports are below.
September 19, 2006
Not Exactly a Ski Vacation...
The marching orders finally came through. I leave for my second trip to Iraq and Afghanistan on the 21st, arrive in Kabul a couple of days later and the embed begins the 25th.
This time, I’ll be embedded with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment 10th Mountain Division based out of Jalalabad Air Field, Afghanistan for 14 days. Then it’s on to Iraq. I thought before I took off, I’d find out a little more about the company I’ll be keeping once I reach Jalalabad.
Turns out the 10th Mountain Division is a pretty elite group with a very interesting history... and a connection to all those luxury ski resorts you find in Colorado. Let me explain.
The idea for the division was born back in 1939 when Charles Minot (Minnie) Doyle, president of the U.S. National Ski Patrol, caught wind of a unique victory. Finnish soldiers on skis destroyed two Soviet tank divisions, shaming the Russian invaders. Impressive.
The first mountain unit was activated in 1941 and the 10th Division came into being in 1943.
When the division was disbanded after WWII, veterans from the 10th kept on doing what they did best – skiing. Ski magazines, ski schools and new ski resorts began cropping up. Vail, Aspen and Sugarbush are just a few of the resorts built by 10th vets.
The division was officially reactivated in 1985 at Fort Drum, New York. The 10th is designed specifically to meet a wide range of infantry intense contingency missions. They pack light for optimum strategic and tactical mobility and have been deployed more often than any other Army division.
Right now, they’re in the hot seat in Afghanistan. Patrolling the road that links the violent eastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, right along the Pakistan border.
Some of the deadliest activity from highly trained militants is launched from the surrounding mountains … not exactly a resort situation here, folks.
I’ll let you know more when I know more.
September 20, 2006
Welcome to Jalalabad