Veterans Day is just over a week away so Balladeer’s Blog looks at some more World War One history.
SERGEANT ALVIN YORK – At age 29 (yes, twenty-nine) Alvin York of Tennessee was drafted into the United States Army in November of 1917. York trained with the 82nd Infantry Division at Camp Gordon, GA. In April, 1918 the unit arrived in Liverpool, England and by mid-May was at Sommes, where they began relieving various units in the trenches to acquire their first field experience.
June saw York and the 82nd move to Lagney, where they patrolled and raided enemy lines for several weeks. In September York and his comrades participated in the St Mihiel Offensive and in October they fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, during which York earned the Medal of Honor.
October 7th found the 82nd fighting at Cornay. On October 8th at Hill 223 then-Corporal York saw his unit badly battered by German fire, with three Sergeants struck down in the chaos. York assumed command and led the seven other remaining men in his unit in a charge against an enemy machine-gun nest.
Amid action usually seen only in fiction Alvin killed several German soldiers as he and his men took the nest. They also seized multiple machine guns and took 4 officers plus 128 soldiers prisoner. York received a Field Promotion to Sergeant and saw additional action with the 82nd until the German surrender on November 11th.
American General John J “Black Jack” Pershing personally gave Alvin the Medal of Honor. France gave him the Croix de Guerre AND the Legion of Honour, an award dating back to the rule of Napoleon, who instituted it. Italy gave York its Croce al Merito di Guerra, while Montenegro bestowed its War Medal upon him.
Sergeant Alvin York also became a founding member of the American Legion and lived on until September 2nd, 1964.
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