Up Here… A 10th Mountain Soldier’s Letters Home 1943–1945
Earlier this year I received an email from a man named David Hoople, who was writing from his home in Maine. After reading Marcel’s Letters he was so struck by similarities in our stories that he felt compelled to reach out. “The parallels to my project were inspiring,” he wrote. David went on to explain he had been transcribing the letters his father, Ted, mailed home while serving in the 10th Mountain Division during WWII. Similar to my search for information on Marcel, David’s journey to understand his father’s experience involved carefully piecing together information from handwritten letters, a trip abroad, and a remarkable encounter at the top of Mt. Croce—one of those goosebump-inducing moments that just might make you believe in divine meddling.
“[Marcel’s Letters] has provided me with the motivation to put my nose to the grindstone,” David wrote of his drive to publish his father’s letters. “This combined with the ‘stay at home’ policy of recent has allowed me to complete the letters just this morning. I promised myself if I ever got through them l would contact you.”
Months later, David sent me a printed copy of his labor of love: the letters Ted sent home transcribed and collected in the book Up Here… A 10th Mountain Soldier’s Letters Home 1943–1945.
Ted’s first letter home was written mid-March, 1943, not long after leaving his freshman studies at Syracuse University. When he wrote that first letter, Ted was in training at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. In the earliest letters home, he talked about the hard work of training, but also the novelty of meeting new people and getting ready for war. “By volunteering, Ted got to choose the branch of service he wanted. The newly formed Mountain Troops attracted his attention and competitive spirit. Ted’s military service would take him to the intensive training grounds of Camp Hale, Colorado, high in the Rocky Mountains; to the desert-like terrain of Camp Swift, Texas; and ultimately, to the peaks of the Italian Alpennines.” (p.11)
Early letters were signed “Tink,” a nickname Ted had been given in childhood. But after he saw combat, the letters were signed “Ted.” It was just one sign of how war can transform a man.
“Sometimes he was writing in a U.S.O. club or in his barracks late at night, tired and short of time. Sometimes, he was in a tent in sub-zero weather, and overseas, he was often in a foxhole. Later, when he was in the hospitals recuperating, he had to write with his right hand until his left arm healed.” (p.16)
I’m so happy David completed his project. Up Here… was a delight to read, and I recommend it to anyone who loves reading epistolary collections, is interested in the history of the 10th Mountain Division, is seeking inspiration to tell their own family story, or wants to read about David’s incredible mountain-top encounter.
Up Here… recently became available as an eBook. Learn more here.
I had the joy of getting to know my father better and to experience an unedited display of his sense of humor that was woven through his letters home. I was also able to travel with him through his 10th Mountain journey and experience his transition from a 19-year-old enlistee to a full-fledged man, shaped forever through his military experience 'up there.' –David T. Hoople (p.16)