Burdell S. “Bud” Winter 1925-1945
His friends called Bud “pole eater” because of his reaching pole plant. By all accounts, he was a tough and spirited mountaineer.
Tenth Mountain Division soldier Bud Winter, one of the 33 soldiers on the Trooper Traverse from Leadville to Aspen in 1944, was killed in action in Italy in 1945. The eulogy below is in part from a fund raising brochure used to raise money for Uncle Bud’s Hut, a backcountry cabin near Leadville, built as a memorial to Winter, and owned by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association.
When Burdell S. (Bud) Winter, a native of Schenectady, New York, volunteered for the “skitroops” in 1943, he was already an 18-year-old hotshot jr. ski racer, proficient mountain climber, and experienced ski patrolman.
At Camp Hale, Colorado, Private Winter was assigned to the “10th Recon Troop,” a unit that included many of the word’s best known skiers and mountaineers, all serving as advisors and instructors, some whom were destined for fame.
Winter applied his energy and enthusiasm to the situation. His zest for life was contagious. A natural athlete, he was also without fear. He dreamed of climbs in the Himalayas. When the snow melted, he delighted in fishing the backcountry near Camp Hale, around Mt. Massive and Homestake Peak. During his days at Camp Hale, Winter participated in the legendary ski traverse made by 33 soldiers from Hale to Aspen, in 1944.
In those days before Aspen’s international fame, Winter wrote home that “…we are going to hike to Aspen. I don’t know whether it is on the map or not…we made the trip in four days, what a trip! Thirty-three of us went. I have acquired the name “rugged Winters” from the trip. I guess I was in a little better condition and tired some of the other fellows out when I was trail breaking…all went well…it was beautiful and something I will never forget.”
In 1944 Corporal Winter left for officer training. He returned to join M Co., 85th Mountain Infantry, just as the 10th Mountain Division was preparing to sail for Italy.
There in Italy on the misty morning of April 14, 1945, Lt. Bud Winter died as an intrepid soldier and hero.
Winter was killed during fighting around Hill 913, north of Castel d’Aiano, an obscure Italian town high in the Northern Apennines. The citation for the Bronze Star medal awarded him for heroic achievement read, in part:
“…In the initial attack of an important offensive, Second Lieutenant Winter accompanied a leading rifle company as a forward mortar observer. During the fierce battle, the company’s radio was put out of commission, and his was the only communication between the company and other units. Courageously, he followed the company commander through mine fields and through the most intense artillery and mortar barrages, relaying messages and directing the fire of his mortars until he was killed. His splendid heroism was an inspiration to all who witnessed his deeds…”
But then, those who knew Bud Winter, in or out of the Army, never ceased to be inspired by his enthusiasm, energy, and zest for life. In a moving letter to Bud’s parents, the president of the Schenectady Wintersports Club wrote, “This Club has lost one of its ablest, best-liked, and most beloved members.”