Editor’s Note: The Chestertown Spy has teamed up with the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College to share the stories of local residents who experienced World War II, either on the Home Front or as Veterans. Students and staff have already interviewed over a hundred people about their experiences during World War II. Each installment presented in The Spy includes an audio clip of an interview, along with the corresponding transcript. You can find more audio clips and interview transcripts at storyquestproject.com. If you have a story or artifact to share, please contact Deputy Director of Starr Center, Pat Nugent, at [email protected] or 410-810-7161.
Vince Raimond: Colorado Ski Troopers
All my friends – all the guys on the corner – were all drafted. So, the draft to me was the worst thing that could happen to you. I decided I wasn’t going to be drafted.
I used to read four or five newspapers a day. That’s how you lived in New York. There were seven/eight newspapers – there was The Times, The News, The Tribune, something else, The Sun, there was no Village Voice yet. They hadn’t started; they started after the war. But everybody used the subway. And there was nothing you could do in the subway, except look across the aisle at another person, or stand up, and hold the strap and smell somebody else’s breath. You found that life on the subway livable if you had a newspaper in front of you. So everybody read a newspaper.
I wasn’t getting drafted. In reading the newspaper, I found that the ski troopers were looking for troops like crazy. They were part of the army. In Colorado, they put together a group of elite soldiers, who fought like they thought they were going to go through the mountains in Switzerland, stuff like that. They need people who knew how to ski, but also were athletes.
I didn’t know how to ski. The guys in the office would – we had four foot rulers made out of steel, they would strap them to my feet and show me how I could turn, you know? I was all set to go. And then I got a card from the government that said I wasn’t accepted because I had never won a letter in high school. That was the criteria to start with, was that you had to have won a letter in some sort of sport.
The high school had about 3000 students. We had a football team, and our front line averaged 212 pounds. I weighed 98 pounds – yeah, I was a little guy. I had my heart set on going there. And I was refused.