Text Box: Above:  Men of the 99th on a 17 mile trail day, March 1943.
Left:  Camp Hale, Colorado.

Training in the United States

The 99th moved from Camp Ripley, MN when in the last week of September 1942 a huge heavy wet snow storm collapsed their unheated 8-man tents on top of them. An emergency truck convoy, formed over a couple days, moved the 99th to Fort Snelling; their next station in Minneapolis. During this time the 99th spent it's days training climbing up and down the hills between Fort Snelling and the river. "Fort Snelling was the ideal spot to locate a "Squarehead" Battalion, because half of the Scandinavians in the United States settled in the Twin Cities and the surrounding country. The people were anxious to entertain their fellow countrymen and invitations to private homes for Sundays and Holidays were streaming in to the orderly rooms every day. While at Fort Snelling, the battalion was visited by many officers and notables, chief among whom was Colonel Dahl of the Royal Norwegian Army. Parades were held often and the moral was high. Although the training was stiff, passes were liberal and the Cities offered the best of entertainment." (Quotation from "Company D" unit history by John W. Kelly) On December 17, 1942, the pleasures of the big city came to an end when the battalion left MN by train for Camp Hale, CO. where the extensive mountain training began. 

For nine months the "Norwegian Avengers" carried out rigorous mountain training at the 9000 ft+ Mountain Training Center, Camp Hale, CO. The unit was in the field three to four days a week. The unit trained with skis and three types of snowshoes for different conditions, and the new T15 light cargo carrier, universally called the “Weasel”, developed by Studebaker. The average individual loads of the soldiers pack, both skiing and hiking, was between 70 and 90 lbs. The battalion developed new methods for survival and training that were eventually adapted by the war department.  Some innovations were made by members of the Battalion, discoveries which met with the enthusiastic approval of the Government. First was a mount made for a heavy machine from two skis - a mount from which the gun could be placed into immediate action.  Second, a three-ski sled for litter bearers.  This difficult training hinted at the battalions future deployment, a possible invasion of Norway from the north. The battalions excellent performance in training would serve as a blueprint for other units to follow.

Text Box: Above: The T 15 light cargo carrier, "weasel", a tracked vehicle developed especially for Mountain troops.  It was manufactured by Studebaker, and was  one of the vehicles used at Camp Hale.  Left a Ford GPA “Sea Jeep”, aka “SEEP”, which was an amphibious version of the Jeep.  Below is a Ford GPW “Jeep” which also was produced by Willys in great numbers. This vehicle became the backbone of the United States Armed Forces during the war and was the most important vehicle of the 99th motorpool.  Photos courtesy of Hadley Jenson, Hq Co. Motorpool. 
Text Box: Birger Johansson, Co. C, Camp Hale, CO, in white camouflage uniform 
Text Box: “One of the highlights of our stay at Camp Hale was the journey to Camp Carson, Colorado. Here the 99th Battalion and another separate Battalion received the honor of a personal review by President Roosevelt. Although the review was in April, the uniform for the 99th Battalion was ski boots and mountain jackets. The review parade was a great success and the 99th made a fine appearance."  (Quotation from John W. Kellys' book, "Company "D".)  The other separate battalion reviewed was the Greek battalion. The "X" above the soldier in the picture is George Hunsby, WWI veteran. Photo courtesy Arne Thomassen.
Text Box: Norwegian and Greek Battalion Reviewed at Camp Carson (From the 99th Newspaper, "The Viking" #4, May 24, 1943)  "The president of the United States recently reviewed the entire 99th Infantry Battalion at Camp Carson, Colorado. With the exception of a few men, the entire battalion was moved to Camp Carson , where they bivouacked in white mountain tents. The parade was a complete surprise to this organization-as was the President's visit to other men in Army camps throughout the country. With the Commander in Chief of the armed forces watching from his cream-colored roadster, the 99th marched proudly by, dressed in the natty uniform of the Ski Troopers. Newsreel cameramen ground away as Major Harold D. Hansen, the Battalion Commander was introduced to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Major briefly outlined the training program of the battalion. The Chief Executive was very warm in his praise of the husky Norwegians parading before him.
Text Box: Jeep Mechanics
Text Box: Ski training at Hale, with Osmund Skarning in front.  Skarning became the first killed of A Company.
Text Box: Harold K. Hanson (middle) during winter training at Camp Hale. 
Text Box: Lt Harry L. Solberg of  Company "A" that later went to the OSS.
Text Box: Ordinance training on targets at Camp Hale.
Text Box: A huge lake accumulated in front of the barracks as a result of the snow melting.  Courtesy: Robert Daniel collection
Text Box: Robert Daniel collection
Text Box: S/Sgt Leonard Berg (“B”)  peeking out of his tent after a snow storm. Photo courtesy: Robert Daniel collection
Text Box: Robert Daniel collection
Text Box: Robert Daniel collection
Text Box: Everyone remembers the train struggling to get up the hill from Camp Hale.  Courtesy: Harold K. Hanson
Text Box: 99ers getting ready to go ski training. Courtesy: Harold K. Hanson
Text Box: A familiar sight.  99ers on skis in the mountains surrounding Camp Hale.  Courtesy: Harold K. Hanson.
Text Box: Courtesy: Harold K. Hanson
Text Box: The 99th was trained in a large variety of weapons. Here is the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) being used. Courtesy: S. Ron Windh estate
Text Box: S. Ron Windh  Private photo.
Text Box: Courtesy: S. Ron Windh estate
Text Box: Training included use of Arctic dogs. Courtesy:  S. Ron Windh estate
Text Box: S Ron Windh  enjoying a Norwegian folk dance at Ft. Snelling, prior to being sent to Camp Hale.  Windh was a Swedish sailor who's ship was torpedoed and ended up in the USA and later was transferred to OSS/RYPE
Text Box: Tobias Briseid, Clarence Mortenson and Arne Espedal (HQ Company) donning 90 lbs rucksacks with snowshoes at Camp Hale March 1943.  Photo: Roy Carlson
Text Box: Roy Carlson, Arne Michelson and Harold Hanson of HQ Company at Camp Hale in 1942.  Photo: Roy Carlson
Text Box: Camp Hale in January 1943. Photo: Roy Carlson
Text Box: Roy Carlson at Camp Carson April 1943 preparing for the Presidental inspection.  Photo: Roy Carlson
Text Box: Roy Carlson, showing the typical skiing gear issued to the Battalion members.
Text Box: Easter Sunday service at Camp Carson April 25, 1943.  Notice the altar on the back of a Dodge Command Car.  Photo: Roy Carlson
Text Box: Lunch break around Camp Hale. January 1943.  Photo: Roy Carlson
Text Box: Soldiers from C Company at Camp Hale.
Text Box: Birger Johansson ( C ) in a snow suit.
Text Box: Morten Tuftedal