FORT DRUM, NY — Fort Drum’s Mountainfest returns to Division Hill on June 20 for a day full of fun games and activities, concessions, military displays and more.
New this year, attendees can see Soldiers in action during a 30-minute military demonstration that captures the history of the 10th Mountain Division – from its origins during World War II to its role on the modern battlefield.
“It’s always great to see community members talking with Soldiers at the static displays during Mountainfest,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Upshaw, 10th Mountain Division (LI) G9. “This inaugural live demonstration will give people another chance to really see who our Soldiers are and what they do. It’s our history and our capabilities all rolled into one.”
The event will start at 4 p.m., with combined aerial and vehicle movement, artillery and small-arms simulations. Bleacher seating is available, but attendees also can bring their lawn chairs and blankets to the demonstration and Salute to the Nation.
“There’s a lot of festivals and fairs throughout New York for people to enjoy, but I think we’re adding something really unique to Mountainfest,” Upshaw said. “Nowhere else this summer will people get to see 10th Mountain Division Soldiers virtually ‘assault’ the battlefield like this.”
Units participating in the demonstration include 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, both from 1st Brigade Combat Team; 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment and 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, both from 10th Combat Aviation Brigade; and the Vermont National Guard’s 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Immediately following the demonstration, division Soldiers will march onto the field bearing the flags of the 50 U.S. states and six territories for the Salute to the Nation ceremony. Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, will provide remarks and introduce retired Col. Dave Johnson and retired Maj. Bruce Grable, who will speak about their Vietnam War experiences. Both were featured in the PBS program, “We’ll Meet Again,” last year when Johnson reunited for the first time with Grable.
According to the PBS website:
“While flying in a helicopter on a reconnaissance mission over Cambodia in July 1972, Dave (Johnson) and five other servicemen found themselves under attack. When the helicopter was hit, they were forced to make an emergency landing. Thankfully, they survived the crash, but once on the ground, they struggled to avoid increasing enemy gunfire. Dave and his team sent a mayday call, which was received by Bruce Grable, a Chinook helicopter pilot who put his life on the line to rescue the men. Without Grable’s act of heroism and generosity, Dave believes he wouldn’t be alive.”
Johnson served three tours in Vietnam, and later transitioned out of the Army in 1989. Grable retired from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) in 1990.
Johnson said that he never had the chance to thank Grable, but he recommended the Chinook pilot for the Distinguished Flying Cross. Thanks to the documentary series, Johnson discovered – more than four decades later – that Grable had received the medal, and he finally got the reunion he so often thought about.
Mountainfest will open to the public at 1 p.m. at Division Hill, with the Adventure Zone offering attendees a variety of activities to include ATV rides, archery and rock climbing wall. There also will be plenty of children’s games and bounce houses for kids of all ages.
The Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program is hosting a free Custom Car and Motorcycle Show, with vehicle judging beginning at 1 p.m., and presentation of awards at 5 p.m. The competition is open to all Department of Defense cardholders. To register, or for more information, visit the BOSS Center at Bldg. 10650 on 5th Armored Division Drive or call (315) 772-7807.
Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation offers two beer tents – one exclusively for craft beers – and souvenir Mountainfest cups. Several family readiness groups and community organizations such as the Boy Scouts will have informational, concession and activity booths. Attendees also can purchase Fort Drum maple syrup, courtesy of the Environmental Division.
Also, 10th Mountain Division units will have representatives on the field with their vehicles and equipment that attendees can climb aboard and learn more about from the Soldiers who operate them.
Mountainfest festivities continue with the 8th annual Salute to the Troops Tribute Concert at 6:30 p.m. – featuring country music recording artists LOCASH and Parmalee – followed by a fireworks finale at 9:45 p.m.
Attendees without a Department of Defense identification card must enter post through Lewis Avenue Gate, off Route 26.
No alcohol, coolers, backpacks, glass containers, boxes or weapons will be allowed through security checkpoints at Division Hill. Chairs, blankets, diaper bags and large purses are permitted and are subject to search. No pets other than certified service animals are permitted.
For more information about Mountainfest, visit www.drum.armymwr.com.