So you’ve received your orders PCSing you to Fort Drum, NY. You’ve cried, bargained with the branch, tried to get a buddy to switch with you, but you’re going. Yes, the winters will be long and cold—annual snowfall is nearly three times the national average and can last into May. Yes, the op tempo is high and you’ll be doing PT and field exercises in the snow. But, fear not, because it’s not all doom and gloom with 10th Motown. Here are a few bright sides to look on if you find yourself assigned to Fort Drum.
I’ll Try Sir depicts Cpl. Calvin P. Titus scaling Peking Wall for which he received the Medal of Honor (H. Charles McBarron Jr.—Public Domain)
1. Unit history
The 10th Mountain Division has a long and prestigious history that few other units can match. Battalions currently organized under 10th Mountain have seen combat going all the way back to the Civil War. Since then, 10th Mountain units have participated in every major conflict. Notable actions include Little Big Horn, Peking, Mount Belvedere, Mogadishu, Takur Ghar and Kamdesh. When you don the crossed swords and Mountain tab, you become part of a long legacy of warriors.
When you need something on your right sleeve (U.S. Army)
Since 2001, the most deployed unit in the United States Army has been the 10th Mountain Division. Whether it’s because of the unit’s readiness and combat proficiency or because the soldiers would rather be anywhere else during the intense winters, an assignment to the 10th Mountain at Fort Drum is basically a guarantee that you will deploy. Looking on the bright side, it is an opportunity for junior soldiers to earn a deployment patch and also means deployment pay.
Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands (Boldt Castle)
3. Beautiful summers & the great outdoors
“But the summers are so beautiful there!” Anyone moving to Fort Drum has heard this as a bright side to look on. While the winters are truly ridiculous, the summer months do help to offset their unpleasant nature. Generally mild temperatures and a temperate climate allow Fort Drum residents to take full advantage of the many outdoor pursuits that are available. The mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes support nearly every type of recreation. Northern New York offers plenty of boating, fishing, hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, and even the opportunity to ride a pedal-bike on a defunct railroad. The winter also offers great snowboarding and skiing for everyone with Dry Hill being one of the best slopes for beginners and Lake Placid for Olympic prospects. For less active individuals that just want to enjoy the mild summers, the Thousand Islands region also offers plenty of tours, restaurants, and shops.
Ottawa is a must-see if you find yourself up north (Ottawa Tourism)
Yup, the border with the Great White North is just a 30 minute drive from Fort Drum. Another 30 minutes past the border and you’ll be in Kingston, a little city on Lake Ontario that also hosts Canada’s West Point, the Royal Military College of Canada. Another hour will take you to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and another hour on top of that will take you to Montreal, home of the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’s also worth noting that flights out of Ottawa and Montreal are often much cheaper than flights out of Syracuse, the closest major U.S. airport to Fort Drum. Of course, all of this is unfortunately moot until the border reopens and travel restrictions are lifted.
You might have to dig yourself out, but you won’t have to report (U.S. Army)
5. Snow days
Limited visibility, extreme temperatures and hazardous road conditions are commonplace at Fort Drum and the surrounding area. Mirroring the local school district, Fort Drum often shuts down and issues a no report order when these conditions make travel too dangerous. On average, soldiers can anticipate anywhere between 1-2 weeks of snow days scattered throughout the winter season. That said, if your report date happens to be on one of these snow days, you will still be required to report and sign-in in person.