Harold Kennedy at Camp Hale
Seen a Mountain Before,"
Setting up Camp Hale, Colorado, for the Tenth Mountain Division
December 21, 1994
Interviewer: Rheba Massey
Despite having survived a ruptured appendix and being
too nearsighted to be eligible for combat, Harold Kennedy
was inducted into the army, trained at Fort Leonard Wood,
and was soon part of a cadre of the quartermaster corps
sent in September of 1942 to set up Camp Hale, near
Leadville, Colorado. "I had never been in the
mountains before. The highest hills I'd ever seen before
were the Ozarks where Camp Leonard Wood is located."
a long train ride, Kennedy got his first view of the
mountains coming through the Royal Gorge. "We got
out and everybody peered up at the sides of Royal Gorge.
. . We went over the continental divide. I had never been
up over 10,000 feet before." The camp was being
developed at a little railroad siding called Pando. The
camp was about one-fourth complete at that time and the
quartermasters' job was to fill warehouses with the
supplies that would be needed for the new Tenth Mountain
Division. "Nothing inspired about it."
Having grown up in Minnesota and being an avid skater,
Kennedy wasn't as bothered as some of the men by the cold
temperatures but was impressed by the amount of snow -
three or four feet on the level - and enjoyed climbing
The barracks and other buildings were heated by coal
burning furnaces. The camp was located in a deep valley
and, as a result, the air was heavily polluted.
"When the wind came, it was welcome." Kennedy
believes the combination of altitude and pollution caused
a large number of respiratory illnesses in the men
stationed there. As one of the quartermaster corps jobs
was to arrange shipment home of the coffins, Kennedy was
aware of many deaths. "I don't think anything was
ever written about that and I don't think any figures
were ever furnished with the number of people who died up
there because of the altitude. I think the air pollution
played a good part of it."
Kennedy was not at Camp Hale long, for he made a top
score on a test which qualified him to enter an Army
Specialist Training Program (ASTP). He was to study the
German language, history, demography and culture. In
April of 1943, he was sent to Fort Collins and, like many
others who first saw the town as part of their military
training, was captivated by it.
Kennedy had a long career with the National Labor
Relations Board and made his home in Cincinnati for 27
years, but his dream, born from his military service, was
to return to Colorado and specifically to Fort Collins.
He achieved this dream in 1975 when he retired. He and
his wife took up skiing and found that Fort Collins had
everything they wanted.