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Amphibious "Duck" (DUKW) carrying supplies and U.S. troops in 1944. Photo: U.K. <a href="">Imperial War Museum</a>
Amphibious "Duck" (DUKW) carrying supplies and U.S. troops in 1944. Photo: U.K. Imperial War Museum

Discovery of 10th Mountain "duck," and hopes for closure

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Divers in Italy have found what may be the wreckage of a 10th Mountain Division vehicle from World War 2 at the bottom of a lake. A so-called "duck" vehicle sank near the end of the war, killing two dozen soldiers aboard.

The discovery was made possible, in part, by a group with ties to Fort Drum, where the 10th Mountain Division is now based. And it's creating hope among the missing GI's families. David Sommerstein reports.

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David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

On the night of April 30, 1945, the U.S. Army’s Tenth Mountain Division was pursuing German forces in the rugged mountains of northern Italy. 25 soldiers climbed aboard a DUKW amphibious vehicle, known to GIs as a ”duck”, for a ride across Lake Garda. But the vehicle took on water and sank in the frigid waters. Only one soldier lived.

The 24 artillerymen are among 73,000 world war two veterans still listed as Missing in Action.

Last year, an Italian volunteer group, Gruppo Volontari del Garda, believed it had found the wreckage of that “duck” vehicle. But it needed money to do the dive. That’s how the National Association of the Tenth Mountain Division got involved.

When the diving group announced that they wanted to do a dive because they had discovered some item in the bottom that looked like it might be one of these “ducks”, they asked the association to help.

Retired Army Colonel Mike Plummer is the Association’s president. He lives in Watertown. He says the group kicked in under 10,000 dollars.

It wasn’t a large amount of money because we don’t have a large amount of money.

The Italians did the dive. And the results were positive, but Plummer says, still foggy.

They have discovered a duck. We don’t know whether it’s a 10th Mountain Division duck, and probably won’t know on this dive. And the question is whether they’ll do any additional dives.

There are other uncertainties, too. According to the Associated Press, two other ducks also sank that night, but without casualties.

The stakes are high for the families of those 24 soldiers. They hope the men’s remains will also be found and returned to the U.S. Plummer says it would provide much-needed closure.

That allows you to let go of that haunting feeling that the remains are buried in some foreign shore and not receiving the recognition or honors or a grave that you and your family can visit and pay respects to.

Plummer was expecting a final report from the dive back in June. He’s still waiting, so nothing’s definite until there’s a confirmation.

I’m not reaching into my wallet to give them any more money until I get a report and some adult version of what they discovered.

Officials at the Hawaii-based Missing in Action unit that searches for GI’s remains told the Associated Press that it would not investigate until there was “firm evidence” that remains have been located.

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