(left to right)
Patricia Finn Thornton (Delaware River Valley Chapter); Kate Raabe
(Rocky Mountain Chapter); Patty Thompson (Mount Rainer Chapter); Denise
Taylor (Rocky Mountain Chapter); Martha Hays (Delaware River Valley
Chapter); Steve Worley (Armadillo Chapter). Kneeling in front - Tom
Hames (Rocky Mountain Chapter).
The inspiration for involving the descendants with
the Association began in 1987 when William B. Wright (604-HQ) headed a
movement called the Spirit of the Tenth. Five years later, finding that
many descendants were expressing an interest in becoming members of the
Association, Bill Boddington (86-A) reintroduced the concept of
descendant membership, but IRS regulations
limited the process.
To overcome this IRS constraint, then-president
Dean Carmichael in 1996 organized an exploratory committee of Hans
Thompson (85-K), Hugh Evans (85-C), Jim Barr (85-HQ-3), and descendant
Kate Raabe (Max Raabe, 86-MED) to work with the descendants in the
formation of an auxiliary group.
Vigorously spearheading the legalities to bring
this vision into focus was attorney Martha Hays, granddaughter of Major
General George P. Hays and daughter of Lieutenant George J. Hays (87-B).
As a result, the 10th Mountain Division Descendants, Inc. was officially
formed as an auxiliary of the National Association of the 10th
Mountain Division at the 1998 Fort Drum Reunion in Watertown, New York,
with Kate Raabe serving a two-year term as the first Descendant
Patricia Finn Thornton served as the second
Descendant President and held office from 2001-2006. Her father, Captain
Frederick Finn, commander of Company L, 85th Regiment, was killed in
In 2006, the Executive Board approved the current
slate of officers with Val Rios now serving as the third Descendant
President. Val Rios is serving his second term, 2010 to 2012. His
father, Cruz Rios, served with the 87th Regiment, Company K.
Since its beginning, the organization has grown
steadily in numbers and in the diversity of its programs. The
organization maintains a database that lists the identified descendants
of the World War II 10th Mountain soldier.
Besides supporting undertakings of regional
chapters, the National Association, and the Foundation, descendants have
embarked on meaningful projects of their own. Six main areas are:
On Belay Project: The Committee gives support to veterans,
their wives or widows as well as wounded 10th Mountain Light
soldiers in Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC;
Oral History Project: The Committee, in cooperation with
the Resource Center, videotapes the histories of veterans and their
10th Mountain Division Descendant Scholarships: An annual
scholarship is awarded to a high school senior based on meritorious
service to the 10th Mountain Division.
Gold Star Project: The Committee seeks descendants of
soldiers killed in action and then provides information, contacts, and
National Reunions: The Delaware River Valley and
Washington DC Chapters have volunteered to run the 2013 National
Return to Italy Trips: Descendants will continue to
organize and run the trips to the 10th Mountain WWII Italian
areas of interest.
Presently the Board of Directors consists of 21
Descendant Chapter Directors, plus 6 At-Large Directors. These
representatives work closely with the Chapters, many acting as Chapter
Presidents. Reaching beyond their own organization, descendants also
hold positions on the Boards of both the National Association and the
Tenth Mountain Foundation.
Descendants come from various backgrounds and from
all parts of the country; however, their beliefs and their purposes are
the same. They believe that the wartime and peacetime contributions of
men of the 10th have an enduring significance for the world of today and
tomorrow. The Descendantsí purpose is to keep the knowledge of this
legacy alive by forging links to their historical past.
Descendants will accept these challenges by
continuing the World War II veteransí projects, by supporting Chapter,
National, Foundation and 10th Mountain (Light) activities, and by
creating new educational activities and humanitarian projects that
celebrate and enact their values of honor, responsibility, comradeship
and love of the mountains. Through these actions, the legacy of the WWII
10th Mountain soldiers will live in perpetuity.
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