Original U.S. WWII 10th Mountain Division Kiska and Italian Campaign Named Grouping
Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. Sergeant Donald A. Goodman ASN 39676603 was a Corporal and squad Leader of the 87th Mountain Infantry, Company E in the 10th Mountain Division and fought in both the Pacific Theater and saw action in the Aleutians on Kiska Island and later in European Theater of Operations in Italy during WWII. After the war he was only one of two (the rest were Austrian) ski instructors at Sun Valley, Idaho as well as inventing the Goodman Release Binding. Later he moved to Missoula, Montana and became a wildfire firefighter pilot. He was tragically killed flying one of his converted B-26 bombers on July 16th, 1976 trying to put out the Battlement Creek Fire in Western Colorado. Today there is a memorial at Battlement Creek dedicated to Donald and his crew.
His service was documented in a 2015 letter from the Colorado Historical Society 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION RESOURCE CENTER. It reads:
I have checked our archive records as well as enlistment records available from the National Archives at http://aad.archives.gov/aad/ and found that Donald A. Goodman was in the 87th Infantry Regiment, Companies A, E, L, and the Service Company, his highest rank being Sergeant. Unit designations can be a bit confusing, so by way of background, a World War II division like the 10th Mountain Division fielded about 14,000 men. The Division contained three infantry regiments of about 3,000 men each, three artillery battalions of approximately 1,000 men each and an engineering battalion of about 1,000 men. This totals about 13,000 men. Approximately 1,000 additional men comprised various support units. The 10th Mountain Division's infantry regiments were the 85th, 86th and 87th. Each regiment contained three battalions of about 1,000 men. These were designated 1st, 2nd, and 3th Battalion. Each battalion had four line companies plus a headquarters company, each of about 200 men. (A, B, C and D were 1st Battalion; E, F, G, and H were 2nd Battalion and I, K, L and M were 3rd).
Donald enlisted on March 3, 1941, around the age of 24, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He had completed one year of college, and was not married. His civilian occupation was listed as "Athletes, sports instructors, and sports officials". The first documents we have regarding Donald are personnel rosters from January to September of 1942, when he joined what would later be designated the 10th Mountain Division. These rosters are from Fort Lewis, Washington and record that Donald was an Ammunition Handler (Duty code 504) in the 87th Infantry, Company A. The rosters also allow us to put together the timeline of his promotions. In February of 1942 he was promoted to Private First Class. The March roster lists him again as Private, but I believe this to be an error, as subsequent rosters list him as Private First Class. In June of 1942 Donald was promoted to Corporal, and his duty was changed to Squad Leader of 87th Infantry, Company E.
Our next documents are payroll reports from October, 1942 to December of 1943. The November, 1942 payroll shows that Donald was transferred in grade (at the same rank) from Company E to Company L, and he was in Camp Hale at that point. In June of 1943, the payroll report shows Donald is still a Corporal in Company L. On June 13, 1943 the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment moved from Camp Hale to Fort Ord, California to train for the invasion of Kiska Island in the Aleutians. The Japanese had occupied Kiska during their attack on Midway Island in June 1942. Despite a fairly tight blockade, the Japanese were able to secretly evacuate the island prior to the invasion. Nevertheless, the 87th suffered 24 casualties. Most were due to friendly fire during the confusion and dense fog that surrounded the landings. Additional casualties resulted from various booby traps.
The September 1943 payroll report notes Donald having been demoted to Private and transferred to Company E in August, but we do not have documentation specifically concerning his demotion. This report also shows he was eligible for a 20% increase in pay for foreign service for the time he was at Kiska. Donald remained as part of the occupation force until the end of December, when the 87th returned to the States and all of the men were granted leave.
The 87th reassembled at Camp Carson, Colorado in January 1944, then returned to Camp Hale in late February. At this time, the 87th was officially assigned to the 10th Light Division (Alpine), which had been activated at Camp Hale July 15, 1943. In October of 1943 Donald was still a Private in Company E. Mountain and winter warfare training continued at Camp Hale until the end of June 1944, when the Division moved to Camp Swift, Texas for standard infantry training. At this time Donald's rank was Technician Fifth Grade, meaning soldiers again addressed him as Corporal. On June 29, Donald and his unit arrived in Camp Swift, and on July 29th he was granted an 18-day furlough, returning on August 14. In early November Donald was promoted to Sergeant.
The 85th and 87th Infantry Regiments departed Camp Swift by train on the evening of December 21, 1944 and arrived at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia on Christmas Eve morning. Here they made final preparations for deployment to Italy, although for security reasons the men did not know where they were going until they were well out to sea. They boarded the USS West Point on the evening of January 3, 1945 and set sail for Italy on the morning of January 4, arriving in Naples on January 13.
Although combat in Italy was almost continuous for four months, the 10th fought three major battles against the German Army: February 18-25, March 2-6 and April 14-May 2, 1945. We lose track of Donald until April 13, 1945, at which point he was transferred in grade to 87th Infantry, Service Company. Following the German Army surrender in Italy on May 2, the 87th Infantry Regiment sailed from Naples August 2, 1945 on the Mt. Vernon, and arrived at Newport News, Virginia on August 11.
The final document we have pertaining to Donald is a post-war report compiled by Dick Wilson in 1998. It notes Donald's contributions to the ski industry as being a ski instructor in Sun Valley, Idaho, and also as the inventor of the Goodman Release Binding. Donald had passed away by that point, but I do not have a specific date.
I wish we had further documentation, but it is likely anything else — including his separation papers —was destroyed in a devastating fire at the National Personnel Records Center in Missouri in 1973. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you have any questions, or if there is anything else I can do for you.
10th Mountain Division Resource Center
True 10th Mountain Division material is incredibly hard to find. Included in this fantastic named and decorated veteran grouping are the following items:
- Ike Jacket with 10th Mountain division patch on left shoulder, ultra rare Army Kiska Task Force Shoulder Patch on left shoulder. Medal ribbons: Good Conduct, American Defense, American Campaign, Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal with one battle star (Kiska), European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two battle stars (Italy) and WWII Victory Medal. Corporal chevrons, Ruptured Duck patch, 2 overseas service bars on left sleeve indicating 12+ months of overseas service. The jacket is named with laundry number G6603 inside neck. Jacket is a size 42L.
- Overseas Garrison Side Cap with infantry piping.
- Massive research binder with original letter from the Colorado Historical Society 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION RESOURCE CENTER, masses of copies of original wartime documents, copies of photos provided by his daughter of Goodman during wartime, skiing at Sun Valley, and as a pilot after the war as well as so much more. 50+ pages in total and expertly assembled.
10th Mountain Division in WWII: Born out of the sport of skiing, the WWII 10th Mountain Division was formed in 1943 and sent to Italy when the US Army identified that it needed an elite winter-warfare force to fight in the Italian mountains. Ironically, the idea of a winter-warfare unit did not originate within the U.S. Army, but was conceived by a man who was well-versed in history, had been in the military during WWI, and was adamant that a corps of “mountain troops” was vital to America’s national security. As founder and chairman of the National Ski Patrol, Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole, along with his Vermont friends, Robert Langley and Roger Livermore, often discussed and feared that AH could eventually invade the United States through the northeast like America’s enemies had done during the French and Indian War.
At the beginning of WWII, Germany had three units of mountain troops compared to none for the United States. In 1941, Dole, who borrowed the mountain troop concept from the Finnish, began a robust campaign to persuade the military to establish a winter-warfare force. As a learned man, Dole knew the Finnish had used ski troops to effectively fight Russia in its history. At this point, the U.S. Army was training its troops to operate in hot environments and the idea of ”winter troops” wasn’t even on its radar. Initially rebuffed by the military, Dole was tenacious and continued to write and phone Pentagon officials and President Roosevelt until Army Chief of Staff, General George Marshall, adopted Dole’s mountain-troop idea.
In December, 1941, twelve officers and one enlisted man were deemed the 87th Infantry, Mountain, First Battalion, Reinforced and were sent to Ft. Lewis, Washington, where they and soon-to-be-recruits trained on Mt. Ranier. Lt. Colonel Onslow “Pinkie” Rolfe became the first commanding officer. After persuading the U.S. Army to develop a winter-warfare unit, Dole was eager to help and he and Langley, who was the then-acting president of the National Ski Patrol, offered the organization’s assistance in recruiting, training, and recommending ski equipment.
In the early stages of its development, the 87th was an all-volunteer unit. To join, early recruits had to have three letters of recommendation and some type of “outdoors” experience/knowledge. Fifteen-thousand men applied, but only 8,000 were accepted. The “outdoors” criteria would later be dropped as the need for more recruits elevated as the war progressed. Initially, the “mountain troops” attracted mountain climbers, alpine guides, lumber jacks, forest rangers, black smiths, and skiers, including some famous European ones, who had migrated to the United States after war broke out on the continent. Skiers attending high-end U.S. universities also joined, many at the personal urging of Dole. These early recruits were nicknamed, “Minnie’s Ski Troops.” With a multitude of its recruits coming from U.S. Universities, the 10th Mountain Division would earn the distinction of being the Army’s most highly-educated unit, with many of its soldiers having above-average IQs.
Originally activated as the 10th Light Division (Alpine) in 1943, the division was redesignated the 10th Mountain Division in 1944 and fought in the mountains of Italy in some of the roughest terrain in the country. On the 5th of May 1945 the Division reached Nauders, Austria, beyond the Resia Pass, where it made contact with German forces being pushed south by the U.S. Seventh Army. A status quo was maintained until the enemy headquarters involved had completed their surrender to the Seventh. On the 6th, 10th Mountain troops met the 44th Infantry Division of Seventh Army.
World War II
The 10th Light Division (Alpine) was constituted on 10 July 1943 and activated five days later at Camp Hale under the command of Brigadier General Lloyd E. Jones. At the time, the division had a strength of 8,500 out of the 16,000 planned, so the military transferred troops from the 30th, 31st, and 33rd Infantry Divisions to fill out the remainder of the division. This lowered morale and the division faced many difficulties in the new training, which had no established army doctrine. The 10th Light Division was centered on regimental commands; the 85th, 86th, and 87th Infantry Regiments. Also assigned to the division were the 604th, 605th, and 616th Field Artillery battalions, the 110th Signal Company, the 710th Ordnance Company, the 10th Quartermaster Company, the 10th Reconnaissance Troop, the 126th Engineer Battalion, the 10th Medical Battalion, and the 10th Counter-Intelligence Detachment. The 10th Light Division was unique in that it was the only division in the army with three field artillery battalions instead of four. It was equipped with vehicles specialized in snow operation, such as the M29 Weasel, and winter weather gear, such as white camouflage and skis specifically designed for the division. The division practiced its rock climbing skills in preparation for the invasion of Italy on the challenging peaks of Seneca Rocks in West Virginia.
On 22 June 1944, the division was shipped to Camp Swift, Texas to prepare for maneuvers in Louisiana, which were later canceled. A period of acclimation to a low altitude and hot climate was necessary to prepare for this training. On 6 November 1944, the 10th Division was redesignated the 10th Mountain Division. That same month, the blue and white "Mountain" tab was authorized for the division's new shoulder sleeve insignia.
The division, now commanded by Major General George Price Hays, sailed for Italy in two parts, with the 86th Infantry and support leaving Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia on 11 December aboard the SS Argentina and arrived in Naples, Italy on 22 December. The 85th and 87th Infantry left Hampton Roads, Virginia on 4 January 1945 aboard the SS West Point arriving on 13 January 1945. By 6 January, its support units were preparing to head to the front lines. It was attached to Major General Willis D. Crittenberger's IV Corps, part of the American Fifth Army, under Lieutenant General Lucian Truscott. By 8 January, the 86th Infantry had moved to Bagni di Lucca near Mount Belvedere in preparation for an offensive by the Fifth Army to capture the mountain along with surrounding high ground, which allowed the Axis to block advances to Po Valley. Starting 14 January, the division began moving to Pisa as part of the Fifth Army massing for this attack.
It entered combat near the town of Cutigliano on 16 February. Preliminary defensive actions in mid February were followed by Encore Operation, a series of attacks in conjunction with troops of the 1st Brazilian Infantry Division, to dislodge the Germans from their artillery positions in the Northern Apennines on the border between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna regions, in order to make possible the Allied advance over the Po Valley. While the Brazilian division was in charge of taking Monte Castello and Castelnuovo di Vergato, the 10th Mountain Division was responsible for the Mound Belvedere area, climbing nearby Riva Ridge during the night of 18 February and attacking mound Della Torraccia on 20 February. These peaks were cleared after four days of heavy fighting, as Axis troops launched several counterattacks in these positions.
In early March, the division fought its way north of Canolle and moving to within 15 miles (24 km) of Bologna. On 5 March, while Brazilian units captured Castelnuovo, the 85th and the 87th Infantry took respectively Mound Della Spe and Castel D'Aiano, cutting the Axis routes of resupply and communication into the Po Valley, setting the stage for the next Fifth Army offensive.The division maintained defensive positions in this area for three weeks, anticipating a counteroffensive by the German forces.
The division resumed its attack on 14 April, attacking Torre Iussi and Rocca Roffeno to the north of Mount Della Spe. On 17 April, it broke through the German defenses, which allowed it to advance into the Po Valley area. It captured Mongiorgio on 20 April and entered the valley, seizing the strategic points Pradalbino and Bomporto. The 10th crossed the Po River on 23 April, reaching Verona 25 April, and ran into heavy opposition at Torbole and Nago. After an amphibious crossing of Lake Garda, it secured Gargnano and Porto di Tremosine, on 30 April, as German resistance in Italy ended. After the German surrender in Italy on 2 May 1945, the division went on security duty. On 5 May 1945 the Division reached Nauders, Austria, beyond the Resia Pass, where it made contact with German forces being pushed south by the U.S. Seventh Army. A status quo was maintained until the enemy headquarters involved had completed their surrender to the Seventh. On the 6th, 10th Mountain Division troops met the 44th Infantry Division of the Seventh Army. Between the 2nd and Victory in Europe Day on 8 May the 10th Mountain Division received the surrender of various German units and screened areas of occupation near Trieste, Kobarid, Bovec and Log pod Mangartom, Slovenia. The division moved to Udine on 20 May and joined the British Eighth Army in preventing further westward movement of ground forces from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Total battle casualties: 4,072
Killed in action: 872 (1000 total KIA by name per Tenth Mountain Division Foundation, Inc, as listed on monument at Tennessee Pass)
Wounded in action: 3,134
Missing in action: 38
Prisoner of war: 28
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