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Fort Drum soldiers commemorate troops’ World War II training

Updated: Feb. 10, 2021 at 11:30 AM EST
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWNY) - Hundreds of Fort Drum soldiers were put to the test Wednesday to commemorate a grueling exercise 10th Mountain Division troops were put through during World War II.

The training exercise is called the D Series Winter Challenge. Soldiers marched around Fort Drum, following in the footsteps of those who have worn the division patch before.

They’re honoring thousands of soldiers who endured a difficult month-long exercise in Colorado decades ago before those soldiers went to fight in Italy in World War II.

“It was a few weeks long and it was very strenuous and some people consider it probably the most strenuous, arduous, difficult training event in U.S. military history and they’re commemorating that,” said Major Clayton Richardson, G5 Planner, 10th Mountain Division.

Those World War II soldiers marched and climbed 13,000 feet in 8-feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures

To honor that training, local soldiers Wednesday walked over a mile through snowy conditions, pulling a sled weighed down with their gear.

And there were other challenges, including a team pull-up exercise as well as a shooting simulation.

“It was a gut check, that is for sure. We did about 11 miles on our feet today. It’s one that’s a gut check for everybody,” said Sergeant Jeremy York, Alpha Company 187.

York just arrived at Fort Drum from Georgia, saying the temperatures are a wakeup call. But, he says this is nothing compared to what the soldiers went through in 1944.

“We have newer things today that keep us warm, but back then, I mean, then they had, like, furs and stuff like that, so it’s definitely a huge difference. The camaraderie that will build out of it is pretty awesome. So I would definitely say I would want to do it again but I want to be way more prepared next time,” he said.

Major Richardson says he hopes these challenges will be a learning experience for soldiers, giving them the confidence to trust in their own abilities and continue on the 10th Mountain Division’s history of strength and success.

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