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World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces
FISKE  GILBERT  H  JR    31351784    PFC    KIA
He was the youngest of six children. A small lad compared to
his two older brothers. Book learning was his thing and he
looked the part. He was thin, gaunt and wore wire rimmed
glasses. Upon graduation he aspired to be a mechanical
engineer. Described by his fellow high schoolmates as a
“respectable…silent…algebra shark,” he was voted best
dressed, neatest, most dignified, and best natured. He was
trombone player in the school band and a member of the ski
team.
The boy could ski.
Gilbert H. Fiske, Jr. graduated from Garrett Schenck High
School in June of 1943. Like so many lads of his generation,
he was called by a sense of duty and responsibility to his
country. He enlisted in the United States Army, much to the
dismay of his mother, and by July he was headed for Camp
Hale Colorado. Chosen, like so many other New Englanders
for his ability to ski, he would become a member of a new elite
fighting unit. The 10th Mountain Infantry was born and trained
specifically for the harsh mountain environment of the Italian
Alps. They would soon play an integral part in the defeat of
Hitler’s war machine, inching the U.S. that much closer to
ultimate victory. Their motto…”Climb to Victory.”
The men of the 10th arrived in Europe during January of
1945, prepared for the final push. Fiske was a 19-year-old,
120lb warrior. Trained to live in subzero environments while
carrying nearly his body weight in gear. Tasked with taking the
“high ground” away from the enemy.
The boy could ski.
“On April 14, 1945, at 0920 hours, Company G. of the 85th
Mountain Infantry moved along a narrow mountain trail around
Mt. Della Spe, Italy, into the first phase of the attack which was
to ultimately destroy the German military machine in Italy.
Morale was exceedingly high despite the past weeks of nerve-
wracking existence occupying the defensive positions on high,
steep, heavily shelled Mt. Della Spe. This position had been a
salient protruding far out towards enemy held territory. Its
strategic position had made it the hottest spot on the whole
10th Division sector. Fourteen days of living under the almost
constant artillery, mortar, long-range machine-gun and nearby
sniper fire had left the men feeling nervous, but with perhaps
a sense of relief that now, at last, they were moving out to
engage the enemy in his stronghold.” (Till Noon)
By 1400 hours the following day, Co. G suffered 92 casualties.
Among the killed in action on hill 909 that day was a fair
haired, blue eyed teenager from East Millinocket, Maine. This
hero’s name was Gilbert H. Fiske, Jr. Pfc Fiske fulfilled his duty
that day and with his last full measure of devotion, lay the
most costly of sacrifices upon the alter of freedom.
The boy could ski.
ONORE E RISPETTO
~TF