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Sgt. Alvin York – An Unlikely Hero

Sgt. Alvin YorkAs I was enjoying myself on Memorial Day last Monday, I figured I should do a post about a military hero.  A coworker did a post about the Nisei last week, but I wanted to do one myself.  So I started thinking about military heroes to write about. 

We certainly have more than a few military heroes to choose from in our country’s history.  From Nathan Hale whose last words ("I regret that I have but one life to give to my country") will live forever, to Generals Patton and MacArthur who led troops in WWII, America has its share of heroes.

But, there is only one Sgt. Alvin York, a self-proclaimed pacifist who just happened to be an amazing sharp shooter and was involved in one of the most daring battles in U.S. history.

If you haven’t heard of him, you should brush up on your history. 

To make a long story short, Sgt. York (as a corporal in WWI) led a group of 7 soldiers in an attack on a machine gun nest  that was literally wiping out his platoon.  All commanders above him had been killed in the attack and the then Corporal York took command of his unit and brazenly led them on the assault which captivated the entire country at the time.

Sgt. York and his 7 men somehow managed to get through the machine gun fire and take the nest.  When it was all said and done, they captured 132 Germans and killed another 20.  How they did it is still somewhat of a mystery, but we do know they did it. 

Sgt. York said he was guided by "a higher power" that directed his movements.  And supposedly one of the German officers that Sgt. York captured literally emptied his gun point blank at Sgt York, yet missed him with every round.  It’s said that York hit every target he shot at that day before the Germans finally surrendered.

Sgt York went on to fame and somewhat of a fortune after the war ended.  His life was memorialized in a 1941 film starring Gary Cooper, which won an Academy Award for best actor, by the way.

The DIFF salutes Sgt. York for his heroism.  He literally rose to the occasion under fire and his bravery will remain an inspiration for years to come.

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  1. Doesn’t he look like his last name would be York?

    Posted by: Mark | June 4, 2007
  2. I say Sgt. York was from the Pigion Forge, Tenn. area.
    my husband says arkansas.
    who is right?

    Posted by: E. Crum | June 24, 2007
  3. From what I’ve read, Sgt. York York was born in Pall Mall, Fentress County,Tennessee.

    Posted by: Clayton | June 24, 2007
  4. This German officer (Vollmer) was a battalion commander. So his rank should or could have been Oberstleutnant (lt-col) instead of Oberleutnant (first lieutenant)?

    Posted by: L.J.J. Dorrestijn | January 11, 2008
  5. 1. Change point black into point blank.
    2. The number of German soldiers killed was officially confirmed: between 25 and 28. But some of them might be killed by friendly fire.

    Posted by: l.j.j. dorrestijn | January 11, 2008

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018