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Fort Drum’s Division Hill honors three Army units who trained here and fought in World War II. Most people would assume the 10th Mountain Division would be among them, but the landscape was the original site of headquarters for the 4th Armored Division, the 5th Armored Division and the 45th Infantry Division. (Graphic by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Local landmark has served as training grounds
for thousands of Soldiers throughout history

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 4, 2023) – Fort Drum’s Division Hill is widely known as the site for the annual Mountainfest celebration, where thousands of community members congregate for a day of music, food, and fun. It also serves as training grounds for large-scale exercises such as Mountain Peak, bringing multiple units together to erect a “tent city” for command-and-control operations.

Given the name, people might think this area is dedicated to the 10th Mountain Division. That would be wrong. In fact, there are two memorials on the hill that tell the real story.

On June 23, 1950, members of the Fourth Armored Division Association unveiled a plaque on Division Hill to honor the unit’s history at Pine Camp (today’s Fort Drum) and service during World War II. It reads: “Dedicated to the members of the Fourth Armored Division, whose 295 combat days resulted in the most outstanding record of an armored unit in World War II. Activated 15 April 1941.”

A newer plaque honors the legacy of the 4th Armored Division, but also recognizes that Division Hill was the former site of headquarters for two other divisions – the 5th Armored Division and the 45th Infantry Division.

All three units trained at Pine Camp in preparation for the battles they would fight in Europe. The 4th Armored Division led the Third Army’s invasion of Europe, spearheading the relief of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. The 5th Armored Division landed on Utah Beach on July 24, 1944, and played a key role in surrounding the Germans in Normandy.

The 45th Infantry Division trained in several camps in preparation for combat during World War II, to include Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Camp Pickett, Virginia. Arriving at Pine Camp in late 1942, the 45th was the first infantry division to be stationed at Pine Camp since World War I.

Renowned cartoonist Bill Mauldin served with the 45th Infantry Division, and his work regularly appeared in daily newspapers and in YANK magazine, a weekly Army publication during World War II. He also wrote a column called “Quoth the Dogface…” in the 45th Division News.

Division Soldiers distinguished themselves during intense fighting in Italy, taking part in the invasion of Sicily and the attack on Salerno during the Italian campaign.

The headquarters building on Division Hill overlooked hundreds of buildings in the cantonment area, to include barracks, officers’ quarters, mess halls, storehouses, warehouses, recreational facilities, and a hospital.

In contrast to those yesteryears, Division Hill appears quite barren today except for a set of bleachers and a reviewing stand for ceremonies. That will change roughly 80 days from now when the hill comes alive once again for Mountainfest!