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History After World War II

The 10th Mountain Division

Two Soldiers Scaling a Mountain

World War II Mountaineer Training

The 10th Mountain Division had been among the last American troops mobilized for combat in World War II. The division fought valiantly, routing the Germans from the Italian Alps at Riva Ridge and Mounts Belvedere, Gorgolesco, della Torraccia, Castello, and della Spe before advancing into the Po Valley. Their victories were instrumental in defeating the Germans on the Western front. After V-E Day, the 10th Mountain Division returned stateside, anticipating action in the Pacific. However, with the surrender of Japan, the division was inactivated in November, 1945.

The 10th Mountain Division was reactivated first as a training division in 1948, then as a light infantry division in 1954. In neither instance was the "Mountain" designation used. In 1958, the Army inactivated the 10th Infantry Division.

It would be twenty-seven years before the 10th saw new life. On February 13, 1985, the Army reactivated the division with its original name as a light infantry division. Fort Drum, New York, a military post since the early 1900s, became the new home of the 10th Mountain Division. Since that time, the division engaged in a variety of military and relief operations. Most notable in the later category was Task Force Mountain, in which 6,000 members of the 10th provided disaster relief when Hurricane Andrew devastated much of southern Florida in 1992.

Modern Soldiers Running Through Sand
Modernized 10th Mtn. Division

The 10th Mountain Division participated in several military operations since reactivation. In 1990-1991, a limited number of 10th Mountain soldiers participated in Desert Storm in 1990-1991. More extensive fighting took place in Somalia in 1992-1994, when the 10th participated in Operation Restore Hope and Operation Continue Hope designed to secure such towns and roads so that humanitarian supplies could flow to people suffering in the war-ravaged country. In 1994-1995, the 10th Mountain participated as part of a multi-national force dispatched to quell hostilities in Haiti, so that the government of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide could be restored. The next action the 10th Mountain Division witnessed was in Bosnia. Part of the division, identified as Task Force Eagle, left to participate as part of a multi-national peacekeeping force in the region. Most recently the 10th Mountain has earned distinction in the war on terrorism through participation in Operation Mountain Resolve and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Women's Army Corps History

Woman in Tan working on motor
The WAC Motor Pool

During World War II, the Women's Army Corps (WAC) served the United States with distinction in many capacities and many arenas on the U.S. mainland as well as Alaska and Hawaii, and overseas in Europe, the China-Burma-India Theater, North Africa, the Mid-East, Southeast Asia, and the Southwest Pacific. The Army and Congress recognized the valuable contributions made by the WAC to the war with passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, which granted women permanent status in the Army as well as other branches of the military. For the next thirty years the WAC remained a separate sex-segregated component of the Army, performing non-combat jobs.

With demobilization, the percentage of women in the military fell below the 2% level established by the Women's Armed Services Act. By the time the Korean War began, women only comprised about 1 percent of the line positions in the Armed Forces. Even though WACs had served in all WWII theaters, the decision was made to only assign nurses to Korean combat zones. Recruiting drives to boost the number of women enlistees were poorly conceived and had unrealistic numerical goals. Recruiters faced a formidable array of factors. The sentiment of the nation was not as staunchly behind the Korean War as it was in WWII, a post-war publicity campaign targeting women had urged a return to the home, a more traditional attitude emerged that defined women's role in terms of home and motherhood, and the military salaries offered could not compete with those in the private sector in the 1950s. The Army created an additional barrier to successful recruiting by maintaining higher educational and mental standards for admission into the WAC than for the regular Army.

Sgt. Nicola Hail, 21st Military Police Company, Fort Bragg, N.C., and
Cpl. Jill Osowki, 972nd MP Co., Massachusetts National Guard.

The numbers of women in the WAC declined throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, and a cult of femininity within the military saw a diminishing number of roles performed by women. Most opportunity existed in the secretarial and clerical sector. Even with the outbreak of the Vietnam War, the Armed Forces, despite the need for the types of work performed by women in the military, hesitated to turn to the WAC for reassignment to Saigon. The military instead relied on the draft to fill all military roles in the country. Thus the Army only assigned a small numbers of WAC were assigned to Vietnam. Nevertheless, there were notable changes by the late 1960s. Hostility to the draft and a desire to promote more volunteers in the military led the Army to launch a WAC recruiting drive in 1968. It was successful, and the numbers of women enlistees expanded throughout the 1970s. Accompanying this shift was the reopening of a variety of job assignments similar to WWII era, and significantly Congress and President Lyndon Johnson eliminated the barriers to women ascending the ranks of officers in the Armed Forces. On June 11, 1970, Elizabeth P. Hoisington became the first WAC general.

During the 1970s, the Army, independent think tanks, Congress, and the Department of Defense conducted studies into the effectiveness of women in military positions, the quality and level of education of female soldiers, female versus male retention rates, and the cost effectiveness of recruiting women volunteers. Positive findings supported the view that women made good soldiers. During the decade women made advances in a number of areas. Women entered ROTC, made advances against higher admission standards for female enlistees, received weapons training, and witnessed all noncombatant positions open to them. The culmination of these changes occurred on October 20, 1978, when congressional legislation disestablished the Women's Army Corps. Since that time, women and men have served in integrated non-combat units.

The World War II veterans' contribution to this country are now being recognized at Arlington National Cemetery in the Women in the Military Service Memorial and the WWII Memorial.

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