NewsMontana News


Last surviving Camp Rimini member and co-founder of Race to the Sky has died

Last surviving Camp Rimini member and co-founder of Race to the Sky has died
Posted at 11:26 AM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 18:15:19-04

HELENA — Dave Armstrong of Helena, the last remaining member of Camp Rimini during World War II and co-founder of Race to the Sky, has passed away at the age of 100.

Armstrong came to Montana in 1943 in a train car full of sled dogs bound for Camp Rimini.

At the time, Camp Rimini housed about 800 sled dogs, 100 pack dogs, and 125 soldiers. The dogs were being trained for the Invasion of Norway mission in World War II. Camp Rimini was one of just two camps with the dog training program.

Dave’s duty at the camp was to train the dogs, but the Invasion of Norway ended up being canceled. The dogs and soldiers at Camp Rimini transitioned into search and rescue teams for planes downed in places like Alaska or Greenland.

In 1986, the retired Armstrong helped found Montana's Governor's Cup Sled Dog Race to honor the dogs and soldiers of Camp Rimini. That race would later become the annual Race To The Sky.

He competed in the race into his 80s and remained a mentor for many mushers in the decades following.

In March, Sen. Steve Daines recognized Armstrong before Congress for his service to his country and state.

The veteran was joined by family and friends at his home on the west side of Helena for the occasion where the senator’s staff presented him with a copy of the congressional record and a challenge coin from the senator.

Armstrong passed at his home Tuesday evening.