February 19, 1995 in Nation/World

U.S. Vets Retake Riva Ridge

Associated Press

Struggling through rain and wind, five U.S. veterans of World War II scaled an Apennine ridge Saturday to reenact their conquest of the mountain 50 years ago in a campaign against the Germans.

Even two former German soldiers came to the commemoration, including one who had been captured in 1945, said the Americans’ spokesman, Dick Wilson.

The veterans served in the war as part of the 10th Mountain Division, created in 1941 to train soldiers for mountain and cold-weather warfare.

Saturday marked 50 years to the day that 2,300-foot Riva Ridge, in the Apennines straddling the regions of Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, was taken by the Americans.

After being repeatedly driven back by German fire, a unit of the 10th Mountain Division scaled the backside of the ridge with ropes and other mountain gear during darkness.

They surprised German troops, who were occupying northern Italy in the last months of the war, and spearheaded a U.S. campaign to punch through enemy lines.

The campaign, involving 10,000 troops, left 1,000 dead.

In all, 14 veterans from the action 50 years ago were on hand. Some climbed up an easier way to the top or decided not to climb, Wilson said.

Among those making the climb, Wilson said, were Newcomb Eldredge, of Newport, N.H.; Robert Carlson, of Denver, Colo., Nelson Bennett, of Yakima, Wash., and Robert Parker, of Santa Fe, N.M.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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