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LET IT SNOW!

The following is a blog post about the nation’s first snow of the season and themes of snow throughout Veterans History Project (VHP).

 

There is just something magical about the first snow of the year.  Locations throughout the country saw the first snowfall of the season this past weekend.  As I sipped my hot cocoa and watched flakes of ice gently fall from the sky decorating the outside for the holidays, I wondered what these little flecks of ice would mean for the men and women serving abroad. Grabbing my laptop, I searched for a few snapshots through the VHP collection and found a few memorable ones that demonstrate members of the military enjoying their own winter wonderlands.

Cram cross country skiing up a hill. Wendall Robert Cram Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress, AFC2001/001/104098

For Wendall “Wendy” Cram, it was no surprise that his service in the U.S. Army would include skiing.  Cram was a member of the 1940 U.S. Olympic Ski team, but when World War II broke out, he volunteered for the “ski troops.”  Cram was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, where he served as a ski instructor at Camp Hale, Colorado.  Alongside his fellow soldiers, Cram trained at high altitudes, and learned to fight in rugged mountain conditions on both skis and snowshoes.  The “ski troops” even had to rappel down icy cliffs and sleep under tents in the snow.  What did Cram do to relax during his time off?  He skied of course!

 

 

 

 

Edwin Mark “Butch” Trawczynski was drafted into the Army in 1968. With the war in Vietnam in full swing, Trawczynski knew he was about to embark on a very dangerous new chapter.  The young medical corpsman’s letters to his family showcase the anxiety Trawczynski experienced, but when the opportunity presented itself, the “general” simply had to partake in an impromptu snowball fight.

A soldier, playfully slumped on the ground, with a disheveled uniform and silly facial expression, with snow from a snowball fight. Edwin Mark Trawczynski Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress, AFC2001/001/76819

 

Screenshot from video of veteran and fellow soldiers drying their socks during D-Series Maneuvers. Albert E. Soria Collection, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress, AFC2001/001/64736

For Albert Soria, resting next to the fire and enjoying some hot chow was all he wanted to do in the cold. As a machine gunner, radio operator and translator during World War II, Soria served with the 10th Mountain Division.  He and his fellow soldiers culminated their grueling winter training with D-Series maneuvers that lasted up to five weeks in the treacherous Colorado Mountains.  These maneuvers simulated wartime conditions with no lights, no fire and no help.  During his VHP interview, Soria even recalls a time when his foot got frostbite.  He was certain he would be evacuated to the hospital. He was not. When asked how he felt overall about serving with the ski troops, Soria stated:

 

 

 

It was quite an experience.

Somehow Soria was able to bring positive spin to the situation, stating that he always loved winter weather, and that he is proud to have been part of an elite group.

Winter warfare has long been a part of U.S. Military training, and continues still today.  Just as snowflakes take on unique form, so do each veteran’s experiences.  If you are a veteran, what chilly adventures did you have during your time in service? Share your story with us in the comments below—or better yet, record your full story in a contribution to the Veterans History Project. Go to www.loc.gov/vets to download a how-to field kit and get started today.