Sharing memories with Sweetwater veteran Clark Hitt

Sweetwater WWII vet shares memories

SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB) - Clark Hitt will tell you that he talks too much, but once he starts, you hope he never stops. Clark is one of the last people who can tell you about the first days of the 10th Mountain Division. They were the first ski-mounted troops in the US Army.

Clark left Texas when he turned 18, bound for the slopes of Colorado for training. Why the skis? Clark says he just wanted to do something different. "You know how kids are", he says.

Following training, the 10th boarded ships headed for Italy. The unit "absolutely destroyed" five groups of Germans, working their way towards the Po River. Clark was wounded, with shrapnel in his face, but he still has mostly fond memories of his time overseas.

It was the time after the war that brought the most emotion, like the moment Clark crossed paths with another veteran who had served in the valleys of the Apennine Mountains.

"The first thing that he said to me was, 'Why in the Hell didn't you guys get there...'" Clark pauses, and holds his hands to his face. "It still... It still gets to me." He takes a moment, and continues: "He said, 'Why in the Hell didn't you guys get here sooner?'" Clark says that was the greatest compliment another soldier ever gave him.

After months of hard fighting, his unit stormed Bennito Mussolini's villa near Lake Garda. Mussolini had already left for the Swiss border, leaving the villa empty.

"I had my own room and bathroom.", Clark says. "That was one of two places in Italy that I saw a flush toilet and a clean bathroom. So I hated to leave."

Eventually, he continued to Yugoslavia, and the unit was preparing for the invasion of Japan. That invasion would never come; the atomic bombs ended the war first.

Clark has far more stories than one news story can contain. This is just a small overview of what he shared with us, and there is certainly much more to learn.


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