The 10th Mountain Boys played host to a single medal of honor recipient, who earned the highest commendation at the Battle of Castel d’ Aiano, Italy. During the battle, mortars and gunfire pinned down a unit including one Private First Class John D. Magrath. Magrath operated communications, a simple radio man, and during a particular offensive, the private volunteered his own services. After a heroic stand, McGrath was killed and later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:
He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty when his company was pinned down by heavy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire, near Castel d’Aiano, Italy. Volunteering to act as a scout, armed with only a rifle, he charged headlong into withering fire, killing 2 Germans and wounding 3 in order to capture a machinegun. Carrying this enemy weapon across an open field through heavy fire, he neutralized 2 more machinegun nests; he then circled behind 4 other Germans, killing them with a burst as they were firing on his company. Spotting another dangerous enemy position to this right, he knelt with the machinegun in his arms and exchanged fire with the Germans until he had killed 2 and wounded 3. The enemy now poured increased mortar and artillery fire on the company’s newly won position. Pfc. Magrath fearlessly volunteered again to brave the shelling in order to collect a report of casualties. Heroically carrying out this task, he made the supreme sacrifice–a climax to the valor and courage that are in keeping with highest traditions of the military service.
As skiers, those who came back jump started the United States ski industry. Founding resorts, ski patrols, search and rescue groups, ski schools, and backcountry hut systems, The 10th Mountain Division is directly responsible for skiing being a cultural centerpiece in mountain towns across the country. So on this 4th of July, we give our thanks to the 10th Mountain Division and hero John D. McGrath.