Maj. Gen. (P) Milford H. Beagle Jr., 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum Commander, and Col. Matthew Mapes, Fort Drum Medical Department Activity Commander, unveil a bronze plaque Aug. 31 at the Dole Barracks Memorial, honoring the late U.S. Senator and veteran of the 10th Mountain Division. Dole Barracks serves as housing for soldiers assigned to the Soldier Recovery Unit, as well as MEDDAC, DENTAC, and Veterinary Services. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
The Dole Barracks commemoration honors the end
U.S. Senator, Veteran of the 10th Mountain Division
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, NY (September 1, 2022) – The barracks that house service members assigned to the Soldier Recovery Unit at Fort Drum were commemorated August 31 in honor of the late Senator Robert Dole – an original member of the 10th Mountain Division during World War II – at a ceremony outside the facility.
“It is fairly well known, at least among those familiar with the history of the 10th Mountain Division, of the impact and significance that Senator Dole had on the 10th Mountain Division,” Col. Matthew Mapes, Fort Drum Medical Department activity commander. “Not only as a soldier serving in World War II and leading his men into direct combat in Italy, but also as a member of Congress, ensuring that the reactivated division would return as the 10th Mountain Division and the crest division would include the Mountain tab.”
Mapes said it was fitting that the unit Dole was assigned to, the 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment, had a presence at Fort Drum decades later when the Army established warrior transition battalions. The 3rd Battalion, 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment was active in post until July 2020 when it was renamed Fort Drum Soldier Recovery Unit.
Dole, son of Doran and Bina Dole, was born July 22, 1923 and grew up in Russell, Kansas. He studied medicine at the University of Kansas, where he played football and basketball and ran track. The war raging in Europe was little more than newsreels that Dole and his classmates watched before the feature at the local theater.
In his memoir, “One Soldier’s Story,” Dole wrote that a year after the Pearl Harbor bombing, he was still in school, but barely. It was hard to focus on anything other than the war when so many friends and classmates were enlisting or being drafted. At age 19, Dole decided to enlist in the Army Reserve Corps in 1942, and he took the oath of induction at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in June 1943.
The following month he left for basic training at Camp Barkley, Texas, and for basic training and he was assigned to the Army Medical Corps. In 1944, he completed the Army Specialty Training Program at Brooklyn College in New York, where he studied engineering. Dole was assigned to an anti-tank unit at Camp Polk, Louisiana, then attended officer candidate school at Fort Benning, Georgia. In the end, the newly commissioned officer boarded a ship across the Atlantic with orders for Italy. Dole remained at the 24th Replacement Depot outside Rome for over a month before being ordered to join the 10th Mountain Division.
Dole wrote: “My commander didn’t tell me much about my mission, just that the 10th Mountain Division had recently been involved in intense battles in their successful effort to take the strategic location of Mount Belvedere, in the south of Florence.”
The Kansas native had only seen one mountain in his life so far, and now he had to lead a platoon of battle-hardened mountain troops.
Dole and his troops were located in the village of Castel d’Aiano, which had been occupied by the Germans for much of the war and was liberated by the Americans on March 4, 1945. Although he listened to his sub- officers and appreciated their advice, Dole chose to take over on patrols. He didn’t seek to be a hero, but he believed that leaders should lead from the front.
On March 18, his platoon fired while on night patrol, and Dole was wounded in the leg by a grenade fragment. In his memoirs, he wrote, “I’ll never know if that grenade was thrown by me or someone else in our platoon, and it really doesn’t matter. Several other guys and I were injured in the blast, but luckily we were all able to be patched up and put back together.
Just over a month later, Dole would receive a second Purple Heart for a much more serious combat wound when the 85th Regiment launched its part of the Spring Offensive in the Po Valley. On April 14, 1945, Dole and his platoon were heading for Hill 913, about a mile from Castel d’Aiano, with orders to secure its summit and eliminate any German resistance along the way. As they maneuvered silently through the valley, two of his soldiers stepped on landmines, after which the Germans dropped a barrage of artillery and machine guns on them from a farm.
As shells exploded around them, Dole attempted to drag his radioman – who was either dead or seriously wounded – for cover, but was then hit by enemy fire in the right shoulder and back.
Dole wrote, “My body reacted before my brain had time to process what was happening. As the mortar shell, exploding shell or machine gun explosion – whatever it was, I’ll never know – ripped through my body, I recoiled, lifted myself off the ground a little, writhed in the air and fell face down into the dirt. ”
Unable to feel anything below his neck, Dole went into shock when his soldiers moved him for cover. Dole managed to assess the situation and crawled out to see who was dead, injured or alive. Before losing consciousness, Dole dragged two of his injured comrades out of harm’s way.
After Hill 913 was secured, the dead and wounded were evacuated from the battlefield. At the 15th Evacuation Hospital, Dole was among 10 soldiers in the division requiring emergency operations. Immobilized in a cast from the chin to the hips, Dole received a positive prognosis despite the fact that doctors could not determine the extent of his spinal injury.
Dole was still recovering in the evacuation hospital at the end of the war and he was transferred to a larger hospital in Casablanca in May 1945, before returning to the United States the following month. He was admitted to de Winter General Hospital in Topeka, Kansas, where doctors had to remove his kidney as he passed out due to a fever.
He lost the use of his right arm, but slowly regained feeling in his left arm and legs. After three years of recovery and nine operations, Dole was able to walk again.
Dole once confided to fellow patient and future congressman Daniel Inouye that after he was medically discharged from the military, he would get his law degree, become a lawyer, run for the US legislature. state, then to Congress.
And that’s exactly what he did. Dole served in the Kansas House of Representatives before being elected to the United States House of Representatives. Then he spent more than a quarter century in the US Senate, where he was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in the 1980s, and he ran for president three times – winning the nomination in 1996. By the end of his career, Dole garnered more than 12,000 votes in Congress and he was instrumental in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, which provided benefits and services to many veterans. and paved the way for future legislation.
With the reactivation of the 10th Mountain Division in 1985, the army had planned to rename the unit as the “10th Division”. Dole advocated on behalf of World War II veterans who wanted the unit to retain its heritage, as well as the wearing of the mountain tag to honor the division’s origin.
Dole spoke at the February 13, 1985 reactivation ceremony at Fort Drum, and he recalled the 10th Mountain Division’s first “Climb to Glory.”
“For anyone who fought in this battle as part of the 10th Mountain, who shed some of their own blood and left a bit of themselves forever, I like to think that no band played a prouder role in the long campaign that began in Sicily and rolled to its victorious conclusion nearly 600 days later – the protracted and bloody battle to liberate Italy.
Dole served as honorary co-chair of the committee that brought the Mountaineers’ military monument to Fort Drum. He wrote a letter which was read at the dedication ceremony on October 4, 1991, which included the following:
“We are all proud of the bond that has grown between the veterans of the original 10th and the officers and soldiers of today’s 10th Mountain Division. It is with pride that we veterans look upon the elite group of light infantry that is today the 10th and we are sure that you will carry on the tradition and achievements that have been the proud history of the 10th Division. of Mountain. This monument joining the mountaineers of World War II with the soldiers of today’s 10 is a fitting tribute to the bond that is our shared history.
Dole was among the first inductees into the 10th Mountain Warrior Legends Hall of Fame in 2020. In a letter he wrote for the occasion, Dole said, “The soldiers of the Tenth Mountain Division are a special breed. Heroes like you help make America the greatest nation in the world. Your selflessness, service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Mapes said Dole and his wife, Elizabeth, were frequent visitors to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where they spent time with injured service members. Prior to the unveiling of the Dole Barracks plaque, Mapes concluded with a quote from Dole’s autobiography:
“Visiting soldiers who have been injured, or anyone with a disability that confines them to a hospital bed, can be emotionally draining. But it is difficult to overestimate the importance and significance of such visits. Some people avoid visiting a person with a disability because they are afraid of not knowing what to say. The truth is, you probably don’t need to say much. You can be a tremendous encouragement to someone just by being there.
The Dole Barracks Memorial was held Aug. 31 at Fort Drum to honor the life and legacy of the late Senator Robert Dole, who served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)