2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 6 Jun 2003 15:17:05 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Bigger cleanup underway at Camp Hale
Bigger cleanup underway at Camp Hale
Cliff Thompson
June 5, 2003

This summer's costly cleanup of World War II munitions at a popular
section of Camp Hale got a curious boost from a couple of very unlikely

One was the mysterious crash in 1997 of an A-10 attack plane into Gold
Dust Peak south of Eagle; the other was a hiker on Whitney Peak three
summers ago.

The A-10 tank-killing plane piloted by U.S. Air Force Capt. Craig Button
inexplicably broke formation on a training mission over Arizona and flew
500 miles before mysteriously crashing into Gold Dust Peak. Button was
killed, but the four 500-pound bombs arming the plane have never been

The Camp Hale link developed three summers ago when an Outward Bound
instructor hiking at the head of the Homestake drainage on Whitney Peak
found what she thought was a part of the crashed A-10. She alerted
authorities, who determined the debris was leftover from military
training conducted 60 years ago in Camp Hale, which is between Red Cliff
and Leadville.

The woman's discovery - a piece of mortar round - raised a huge red flag
that alerted authorities to accelerate their cleanup of Camp Hale.

"She kind of started the whole thing," said Dave Van Norman, the
assistant district ranger at the White River National Forest's Minturn

This week, a 14-person crew armed with metal detectors will be walking
shoulder-to-shoulder, sweeping a 400-acre portion of the valley floor to
clear unexploded munitions from the East Fork section of Camp Hale. The
cleanup could cost $2 million.

"This is going to take decades to clean up," Van Norman said. "(Camp
Hale) was out in the middle of nowhere and wasn't a priority until
recently. That mortar round made it a place that needed to be looked at
very quickly."

As many as 15,000 soldiers from the elite 10th Mountain Division and
other units trained for mountain warfare from 1941 to 1949 at Camp Hale.
The 250,000-acre site was deeded to the U.S. Forest Service by the Army
in 1965 and has become a popular four-season recreation area.

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