Tuesday, June 7, 2016

First Lieutenant Elvin Johnson of 10th Mountain Division

Portrait of First Lieutenant Elvin Johnson of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division at the top of a mountain. He poses smiling at the camera, holding up his mountain pick while sitting on a large block of white stone or snow. He is wearing a cap, a khaki uniform, and pitons hanging from his belt. The picture was taken in 1943 or 1944 by photographer David B. Allen. Elvin Robert "Bob" Johnson (26 March 1921 - 3 December 2000) was a graduate of Washington State College in forestry. He became an officer in the 10th Mountain Division in World War II, fought through Italy and received a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman badge. At WSC after the war, he was captain of the ski team, winning all the collegiate cross-country races he entered. After graduating, he began to work as a park ranger at Mt. Rainier, during which time he was named to the U.S. Ski Team in cross- country, and participated in the World (F.I.S.) championship at Lake Placid, NY, in 1950. After returning to college teaching and coaching, he continued summers at several National Parks as ranger naturalist and in mountain rescue. He became involved in organizing collegiate skiing, and was a charter member and chairman of the N.C.A.A. Ski Rules Committee. He was also an Assistant Chief of Course at the winter Olympics at Squaw Valley in 1960 and was a technical advisor to the Olympic Committee. During his time he coached several championship ski teams as well as competed himself, where he was second in the national championships, among other honors. He was considered a "pioneer" in the Olympic Mountains for his numerous first ascents, including that of Mt. Johnson in the Needle Range which was named for him. He also climbed Mt. Rainier 22 times! Since retiring on Camano Island, he has been involved with the Ancient Skiers, helping with the collection of materials for a planned N.W. Ski Museum. He was named to the Pacific Northwest Ski Hall of Fame in 1990.

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