Having Fun During the Hardest of Times
As the first United States Army Division to go through high-altitude and ski training, it can be argued that the 10th Mountain Division took part in some of the most rigorous training maneuvers the Army had ever seen. However, times at Camp Hale, Colorado weren’t devoid of all fun. The camp’s mascot, for example, was a panda bear on skis, as seen on this information booklet from the Carleton B. Shay collection.
"This first insignia was used by the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale and appeared on signs, the Headquarters Building, and on the masthead of the division newspaper. The railroad stop at Camp Hale was Pando, Colorado. The design became known as the Pando-Commando. The Panda Bear on skis with an M1 rifle was considered a "cartoon" design and hence The Institute of Heraldry would not accept it as the [10th Mountain Division’s] official patch. However, the design was made into a patch after the war by members of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division."
-Don Palmer, DPL Resource Center Volunteer
The book used both photographs and cartoons to illustrate where to find the laundry facilities, the rec center, or the post office, as well as how to make long-distance phone calls (up to $4.50 for a three-minute call!), and how to get to nearby Leadville for off-duty entertainment.
Also from the Shay collection is an informational booklet warning soldiers of the dangers of malaria. If the images in this book look somewhat familiar to you, it’s because these pages were illustrated by none other than Dr. Seuss. Known in the army by his given name, Theodor Geisel lent his artistic abilities to teach soldiers about the Anopheles Mosquito, a.k.a. Ann, the mosquito who couldn’t wait to bite them.
Especially important in areas affected by the German block on the Allies’ supplies of the anti-malaria drug quinine, the booklet was full of tips and tricks about how to avoid Ann by sleeping under mosquito netting, patching holes in uniforms, and wearing repellent. Though malaria is nothing to laugh at, Dr. Seuss surely helped soldiers maintain a sense of humor.
To learn more about the 10th Mountain Division in World War II, visit the 10th Mountain Division Resource Center in the Western History and Genealogy department at Denver Public Library.
I've always wondered how the 10th Mountain Division got the panda mascot. Our favorite campground is at Camp Hale, and my daughter even has a topographical map of the area tattooed on her arm. Thanks for the history tidbits!
Hi Dana, it's so cool that you go camping up at Camp Hale, and what a fun idea for a tattoo! I'd love to see a picture of it, if your daughter would like to share one. My email address is email@example.com.
Look on page 46 of Flint Wwhitlock's book "Soldiers on Skis." The map is pretty busy but for the serious tatoo candidate one might considered the leg or back.
Who knew such awesome stuff was in the archives??
Isn't it great? There are such treasures here, and you are welcome to come in anytime the library is open to view items from the archives. If you have a specific interest, relation, or research focus, or if you are just interested in the 10th Mountain Division in general, I am happy to help you find what you need.
Can't help but wonder if the malaria pamphlet had something to do with subsequently being called "doctor."
Thanks for your comment! That's a really good guess, but he actually published his first children's book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, in 1937, about seven years before he was illustrating the exploits of Ann.
Check out the demolition order for Camp Hale. The Army Corp of Engineers tore down the wrong Camp Hale after the war. Great piece! Tom
Oh no! I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, but it makes for a good story now!
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