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Transcript of Sergeant York
While overseas, Alvin's regiment was assigned to a mission behind enemy lines. While on the mission Alvin's regiment suffered immense casualties because of an ambush of German soldiers. Before Alvin knew it he was all alone against a battalion of veteran soldiers. Alvin armed with a standard american rifle and a back-up pistol, for close range combat, remained calm, took a breath, and prayed. After his prayer was interrupted by gun fire Alvin simply stood up and proceeded to fire on the incoming soldiers. Alvin killed 24 German soldiers with his rifle and killed 8 more with his pistol. On top of this, Alvin destroyed 32 machine gun nests and took over 100 ( 132 ) German soldiers to become POW's or Prisoners of War.
Acts of Courageousness
Fame and Fortune
The most decorated American WWI Veteran
Life Before the War
Alvin did not get recognition of his extraordinary feat until April 11, of 1911 when a local newspaper asked him about his experience as a soldier in WWI. Alvin told them his story and was awarded the following citations...
The Medal of Honor
The Distinguished Service Cross
The World War One Victory Medal
The American campaign Medal
The Legion d Honneur ( French Medal )
The Croix de Guerre ( French Medal )
The Croce du Guerra al Merito Medal of honor Distinguished The American
And The Montenegrin War Medal Service Cross campaign medal
Along with 50 other medals from various different country's in Europe. Alvin was gaining popularity as fast as he was gaining medals. Before long Alvin Cullum York became the most decorated American WWI veteran. Alvin even contributed to literature by saying this famous quote, " Sir, I am doing wrong. Practicing killing humans is against my religion."
The York family originated in Ireland but moved to the United States during the potato famine. They decided to settle down in Pall Mall, Tennessee and created a family 11 children strong. Alvin was born in the winter of 1887. The York family was home to some rich Ancestry but Alvin's generation was not so fortunate. Alvin and his siblings were very impoverished and often had to go to bed with no food. When Alvin was old enough to live on his own he went to Harriman, Tennessee to work in railroad construction and later the logging industry, he sent all of his proceeds to his family, which at the time was suffering from the loss of Alvin's father, William York.
Being poor was not the worst of Alvin's problems. Alvin suffered from alcoholism and was arrested several times because of his involvement in saloon fights. This internal conflict combined with the death of his father really took a toll on Alvin's life. The biggest problem for Alvin was the news he received in the mail that all of the men ages 21-31 were to be drafted into WWI to fight the Germans. Alvin, who had a very strong faith against killing humans, broke down and almost committed suicide. Alvin eventually was forced to fight in Germany.
WWI American Pistol
WWI American rifle
Images of WWI
German flag during WWI
American flag during WWI
A portrait of Sergeant York
I found all of my information at the following websites/sources:
Life After the War
In the 1920's Alvin created the York foundation which even today is creating opportunities for children near Pall Mall, Tennessee to get a proper education. York concentrated on fund-raising even though most of the media and bystanders were focused on his experience in the Argonne Forest. He responded to their request with these words, " I occupied one space in a fifty mile front. I saw so little it hardly seems worthwhile discussing. I'm trying to forget the war in the interest of the boys and girls that I grew among." York was determined to gain the support of the state, and later, the country, refusing to compromise. Alvin even built the York Industrial School. After a series of lawsuits York became president of his school and even mortgaged his barn to provide busing and transportation for the students attending his school. York was so involved in the education of children that even after he was ousted as president in 1936 he still continued to donate to his cause.
The Logo for the Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation
A sketch for the York Industrial School
Alvin's involvement in WWII
York tried to re-enlist in the Army during WWII, however at age 54 Alvin was overweight, near-diabetic, and showed signs of possible arthritis, therefore he was denied as a combat soldier and was later commissioned as a major in the Army Signal Corps. As a major Alvin toured training camps and participated in bond drives, often traveling to these places at his own expense. Alvin also supported the war effort by selling war bonds and traveled to assemblies by war-related charities such as the Red Cross. York was promoted to Colonel after leading a battalion of "illiterates" into battle. York continued to be addressed by the press as Sergeant York giving him his present nick-name.
The official trademark of the Army Signal Corps
The red and white flag is a popular symbol of the Army Signal Corps
Serious Health Issues in Later Life
York suffered from health problems throughout his life. In the 1920's York had gallbladder surgery and weighed over 200 pounds. By 1945 York weighed 250 pounds and had extreme pneumonia. Three years later York had the first of his many strokes. In 1954 York was confirmed handicapped by failing eyesight, and was hospitalized many times in the last two years of his life. York sadly died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville Tennessee, on the 2nd of September, 1964. A funeral service was held at Jamestown Church in-front of his local community, and then another memorial was held at Wolf River Cemetery by Richard G. Humble, Superintendent of the Churches of Christ in the Christian Union.
The red cross supported Alvin Just as he did during WWII
York died in the Nashville Veterans Hospital