10th Mountain Division Reunion in Missoula

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I know I did not write a column last week, but I appreciate all of the calls, cards and emails reminding me of my failure. At least they confirm that at least a few people read it. Sometimes there just isn’t anything to write about. People don’t need to be told multiple times that summer is ending, the leaves are turning, and the road is really getting rough.

In addition, I was gone last week. My step-brother Jerry Reed and I drove to South Dakota, back to Missoula, then to Bozeman, back to Missoula, then to Columbia Falls and, finally, back to the North Fork. All for a purpose, not just because we like to drive in thousand mile circles.

Jerry and I are members of the Big Sky Chapter of the 10th Mountain Division Association. The 10th Mountain Division originated in World War II and fought in Italy.

After the war, the 10th Mountain Division was disbanded but its members, who trained and fought together, formed their association to stay in touch with comrades. They sponsored conventions on a national level and on a chapter level and created a foundation to provide college scholarships, memorials, and maintain the ski huts in the Colorado area where they trained.

As the World War II veterans aged and became fewer and fewer in number, these duties were take over by descendants. We, the Descendants, continue all of the 10th Association activities, including hosting a Big Sky Chapter reunion every September in Missoula.

Today, most surviving WW II veterans are unable to drive long distances and rely on the Descendants for transport. That is why Jerry and I drove to South Dakota.

We went to pick up a 94 year old World War II vet and get him to the reunion in Missoula where he was joined by four other World War II veterans, three widows of veterans, and a crowd of Descendants.

A good time was had by all — old and new stories and old and new memories shared by friends of over seventy years and their offspring. As descendants, from sons and daughters to great-grandkids, we will never forget. We have faith that neither will a grateful nation.

Oh yeah, while I was gone more summer folks left for the winter, more leaves turned yellow, and the road is even rougher. Also, the general hunting season is one week closer.

No new fires either. Rain and cooler weather may have signaled the end of any big fires but current warm, sunny weather may mean we could have fires. Remember, big fires like Red Bench and Wedge burned into September. Do not start burning slash until officials say it is safe — at least October before that will happen.

Larry Wilson’s North Fork views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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