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10th Mountain Division troops brave elements for winter challenge

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 3:53 PM EST
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FORT DRUM, New York (WWNY) - 10th Mountain Division troops trekked through miles of ice and snow at Fort Drum to honor division soldiers who paved the way during World War II. It’s all part of the D-Series Winter Challenge.

With snowshoes on and supplies packed up, 10th Mountain Division soldiers from Louisiana’s Fort Polk head into the elements, but not before a member of the visiting 3rd Brigade Combat Team shares how they braced for the weather.

“You don’t. You just go into it with a positive attitude,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Herakovich, 3rd BCT.

They’re one of the more than 75 teams expected to take on this year’s D-Series Winter Challenge, a 9-mile course across Fort Drum with checkpoints along the way, including a firing exercise and a rappel station where soldiers guide a sled down a snowy hill.

A lot to do before crossing the finish line, which a team from the 2-14 Recon Platoon of the 2nd BCT, stationed at Fort Drum, accomplished first.

“It’s relieving because it’s finally over with. But, during it, it was tough,” said Staff Sgt. Bradd Wyatt, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry.

And it’s meant to be tough. The challenge is a way to pay respects to the training 10th Mountain soldiers did in 1944 to prepare for battles in the mountains of Italy.

“It just feels good to be able to keep doing it. Keep the history going, keeping it alive,” said Wyatt.

Some of the soldiers who crossed the finish line first share a little advice for troops thinking of taking on the challenge next time.

“Never, never, never give up. Always think about the finish line,” said Spc. Kouadio Ngoran, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry.

“If you think your trained, continue to train because you’re not,” said Wyatt.

Conquering the cold and connecting to the division’s roots - another day in the life of a 10th Mountain Division soldier.

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