WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Retired Colonel Mike Plummer helped bring the 10th Mountain Division to Fort Drum. As he gets ready to leave the area, we focus on his accomplishments.
“There’s a saying at Fort Drum, that Fort Drum was conceived and built by a surgeon, a carpenter, and a “plummer.” And that is General Surgeon, General Carpenter, and Colonel Mike Plummer,” said Judy Genter, retired deputy to the garrison commander.
For more than two decades, Colonel Mike Plummer lived in the north country and helped build it.
In 1984, Plummer helped find where to put the newly reactivated 10th Mountain Division. But with Fort Drum, it wasn’t love at first sight.
“Looking at Fort Drum was, oh, my God, we’re putting a mountain division in the middle of a sand dune,” he said.
The harsh winters that might turn others away are what brought Plummer around.
“When you put new soldiers that are still trying to figure the difference between a sergeant and a lieutenant out in a minus 40 degree snow cave, they have to rely on that sergeant fire team leader for survival,” he said.
Plummer says the military put in more than a billion dollars to build out Fort Drum at the start. Off post, work had to get done to make sure military members blended into surrounding communities.
“When the 10th Mountain came, I can remember my son saying to me just how different it was for him, he was in school at the time, to have the opportunity to talk and go to school with kids who had traveled all over the world. So, it opened this community up to a world they had never known before,” said Mary Corriveau, Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization.
Plummer built the bridge further with what’s now called the “Adopt a 10th Mountain Platoon,” started in 1992, where community members would write letters and send packages to deployed soldiers and have a pizza party when they returned. It was started here and is now used at other military installations - a credit to Plummer.
“It’s his baby and his baby alone. He ran it, he inspired it,” said Gil Pearsall, a retired lieutenant colonel and friend of Plummer.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a statue could be a novel. The monument to the 10th Mountain at Thompson Park tells the story of the division from World War II to now, and shows just how close Fort Drum and the north country are.
“It is a wonderful tribute from the citizens of the north country to each and every one of those soldiers that has served, is serving, and will serve at Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division,” said Plummer.
As Plummer and his family move to Alabama, the commander of the 10th Mountain Division reflected on the colonel’s legacy.
“We hope that we can continue to bond with this great community and basically serve in a manner that is pleasing to him, frankly. So, we’ve got a lot to live up to, and I just hope we can live up to his standards,” said Maj. Gen. Brian Mennes.
“When I look at Fort Drum and look at Adopt a Platoon and some of the other things that this partnership with the community allowed to be created, I feel very good. I can look my mother up there in the eye and say, ‘I think we made a difference,’” said Plummer.