Saturday, September 30, 1944
Short History Of Camp Given As Hale Closes
15 October '42 Arrival Date Of First GIs
On October 15, 1942, Service Command Unit No. 1758, then stationed at Glenwood Springs and which had been activated there on August 10, 1942, received orders to proceed to a new station at Pando, Colorado. The new station was Camp Hale.
That was the beginning of Camp Hale, a unique camp in American military history, the end of which has just been written in the precise language of War Department orders.
Camp Hale was destined to become, and did become, the home of the United States Army's Mountain Infantry, and for two years was the scene of training such as American soldiers never had undergone before.
The camp, situated 9,200 feet above sea level in Eagle County, Colorado, was named for General Irving Hale, an American soldier and electrical engineer. Although a native New Yorker, General Hale's parents moved to Colorado when he was but four years old, and he was educated in Central City and Denver prior to his matriculation at West Point, where he graduated in 1884, honor man in his class. General Hale distinguished himself in the Spanish-American war, receiving two promotions for gallant and meritorious service. He died in 1930.
The mountain troops were created in November, 1941, and the job of organizing them was given to Brig. Gen. Onslow Rolfe, an Infantryman who had just received his star. Shortly following the activation of Camp Hale, General Rolfe and his Mountain Training Center men, who had taken preliminary training in Washington near Mount Rainier, arrived at Camp Hale and began the training which was to fit them to act as instructors for the other combat troops to follow.
The mountain fighters were a triple threat force of Infantrymen and pack artillerymen who could ski and climb mountains, carry military equipment onto high peaks, and fight. The Mountain Training Center was composed in the greater part of men who had volunteered for this type of training and who enjoyed themselves most when they were working the hardest.
Until the late spring of 1943, the Mountain Training Center underwent some of the most rigorous training ever given to any soldiers. A great part of their work was experimental, their being no precedents which they could follow.
On July 15, 1943, the experimental period came to an end with the activation of the Tenth Light Infantry Division under the command of Brig. Gen. Lloyd E. Jones, who had only a few days before returned from action in the Aleutians. The Division was composed of the 85th, 86th and 90th Infantry Regiments. The 90th was later moved and replaced by the 87th, which had just come back from months in the far north.
For almost a year, the Tenth Division underwent infantry combat training, coupled with training for combat in high altitudes and extremely cold temperatures. Their course was climaxed by maneuvers in temperatures that dropped to as low as 35 degrees below zero.
Early in the summer of 1944, the Tenth Division moved out of Camp Hale to Camp Swift, Texas, for further Infantry training.
After the departure of the division, Camp Hale was on a standby basis until receipt of the War Department orders for complete closing of the camp. Those orders bring to an end the story of Camp Hale. It has served its purpose.
From The Camp Commander:
Now that Camp Hale is to be closed, I believe that nearly all of us, both military and civilian, cannot help viewing the prospect with considerable regret. While all of us have complained about various things at times, when we are actually confronted with the abandonment and probable ultimate destruction of the camp, we cannot help feeling sorry. In climate and scenery there is undoubtedly nothing like it in the United States, if in the world. In type of construction and physical standard of buildings and other public works, it is undoubtedly the finest camp in the United States.
A great many of our civilians and a smaller proportion of military personnel have seen it grow from a bare mountain valley to its present condition. Others of us came afterwards and only participated in its later development and operation. All of us, however, in the course of time have developed that feeling of affection towards the place which seems to come to all who live here for any length of time.
Now that it appears certain that we are to close the camp, break up our organization of which we are so proud, and be scattered as individuals throughout the United States, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your fine spirit and co-operation which have made the camp so outstanding in every respect.
J. A. CHASE Lt. Col. F. A. Commanding