Alvin Cullum York:¬†(December 13, 1887¬†‚Äď September 2, 1964)

‚ú™ Alvin Cullum York, also known by his rank as¬†Sergeant York, was an American soldier who was one of the most decorated¬†United States Army¬†soldiers of¬†World War I.¬†He received the¬†Medal of Honor¬†for leading an attack on a¬†German machine gun nest; gathering 35 machine guns and killing at least 25¬†enemy soldiers, capturing 132 prisoners of war. York’s Medal of Honor action occurred during the United States‚Äďled portion of the¬†Meuse‚ÄďArgonne offensive¬†in¬†France, which was intended to breach the¬†Hindenburg line¬†and force the Germans to surrender. He earned decorations from several allied countries during WWI, including France,¬†Italy¬†and¬†Montenegro.

Alvin Cullum York was born in a two-room log cabin in Fentress County, Tennessee. He was the third child born to William Uriah York and Mary Elizabeth (Brooks) York. William York and Mary Brooks married on December 25, 1881 and had eleven children: Henry Singleton, Joseph Marion, Alvin Cullum, Samuel John, Albert, Hattie, George Alexander, James Preston, Lillian Mae, Robert Daniel, and Lucy Erma. The York family is mainly of English ancestry, with Scots-Irish ancestry included as well.

The family was impoverished, William York worked as a¬†blacksmith¬†to supplement the family’s income. The men of the York family farmed and harvested their own food, while the mother made all of the family’s clothing. The York sons attended school for only nine months¬†and withdrew from education because William York needed them to help work on the family farm, hunt and fish to help feed the family. When William York died in November 1911, his son Alvin helped his mother raise his younger siblings.

Alvin was the oldest sibling still residing in the county, since his two older brothers had married and relocated. To supplement the family’s income, York worked in¬†Harriman, Tennessee;¬†first in railroad construction and then as a logger. By all accounts, he was a skilled laborer who was devoted to the welfare of his family and a crack shot. York was also a violent¬†alcoholic¬†prone to fighting in¬†bars & saloons. In one of the worst saloon fights his best friend was killed.¬†His mother, a member of a¬†pacifistProtestant¬†denomination, tried to persuade York to change his ways.

Despite his history of drinking and fighting, York attended church regularly and often led the hymn singing. A revival meeting at the end of 1914 led him to have a conversion experience on January 1, 1915 in the the Church of Christ in Christian Union congregation, a Protestant denomination group that shuns secular politics and disputes between other Christian denominations.

In a lecture later in his life, York reported his emotional reaction to the outbreak of World War I, “I was worried clean through. I didn’t want to go and kill. I believed in my¬†Bible.” When he registered for the draft, he answered the question “Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?” by writing “Yes. Don’t Want To Fight.”

During World War I, conscientious objector status did not exempt the objector from military duty.¬†In November 1917, when York’s application was considered, he was drafted and began his army service at¬†Camp Gordon, Georgia.

From the day he registered for the draft until he returned from the war on May 29, 1919, York kept a diary of all his daily activities. Despite his initial, signed request for a service exemption, he later disclaimed ever having been a conscientious objector.

York served in Company G, 328th Infantry, 82nd Division.

Medal Of Honor Action

In an October 8, 1918, attack that occurred during the¬†Meuse‚ÄďArgonne offensive, York’s battalion aimed to capture German positions near Hill 223 along the¬†Decauville¬†railroad north of¬†Chatel-Ch√©h√©ry,¬†France. His actions that day earned him the¬†Medal of Honor. ¬†He later recalled:

The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks.

Under the command of Cpl. (Acting Sergeant) Bernard Early, four non-commissioned officers, including Acting Corporal York  and thirteen privates were ordered to infiltrate the German lines to take out the machine guns:

And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting‚Ķ All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn’t want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I have.

During the assault, a German officer led several Germans to the scene of the fighting and ran into York who shot several of them with his pistol.¬†At the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched their German prisoners back up to the American lines. Upon returning to his unit, York reported to his brigade commander, Brigadier General¬†Julian Robert Lindsey, who remarked: “Well York, I hear you have captured the whole German army.” York replied, “No sir. I got only 132.”

York was promptly promoted to sergeant and received the¬†Distinguished Service Cross. A few months later, an investigation by York’s chain of command resulted in an upgrade of his Distinguished Service Cross to the¬†Medal of Honor, which was presented by the commanding general of the¬†American Expeditionary Forces,¬†General John J. Pershing. The¬†French Republic¬†awarded him the¬†Croix de Guerre,¬†Medaille Militaire¬†and¬†Legion of Honor.

In addition to his French medals,¬†Italy also¬†awarded York the¬†Croce al Merito di Guerra¬†and¬†Montenegro¬†decorated him with its¬†War Medal.¬†He eventually received nearly 50 decorations.¬†York’s Medal of Honor citation reads:

York’s heroism went mostly unnoticed in the United States press, even in Tennessee. Until the publication of the April 26, 1919, issue of the¬†Saturday Evening Post, with a circulation in excess of 2 million subscribers. In an article titled “The Second Elder Gives Battle”, journalist¬†George Pattullo, who had learned of York’s story while touring battlefields earlier in the year, laid out the themes that have dominated York’s story ever since: the mountaineer, his religious faith and skill with firearms, patriotic, plainspoken and unsophisticated, an uneducated man who “seems to do everything correctly by intuition.”

York proceeded on to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, where he was discharged from the service; and then, on to Tennessee for more celebrations. He had only been home for barely a week when, on June 7, 1919, York and Gracie Loretta Williams were married by Tennessee Governor Albert H. Roberts in Pall Mall. More celebrations followed the wedding, including a week-long trip to Nashville where York accepted a special medal awarded by the state.

York refused many offers to profit from his fame, including thousands of dollars offered for personal appearances, product endorsements, newspaper articles and movie rights to his life story. Instead, he lent his name over to several, various charitable and civic causes.

A consistent, lifelong¬†Democrat¬†‚Äď “I’m a Democrat first, last, and all the time”,¬†he said¬†‚Äď in January 1941 he praised¬†FDR’s support for¬†Great Britain¬†and in an address at the¬†Tomb of the Unknown Soldier¬†on¬†Memorial Day¬†of that year.

York’s speeches eventually attracted the attention of¬†President Roosevelt, who frequently quoted York, particularly a passage from York’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier speech:

By our victory in the last war, we won a lease on liberty, not a deed to it. Now after 23 years, Adolf Hitler tells us that lease is expiring, and after the manner of all leases, we have the privilege of renewing it, or letting it go by default¬†…¬†. We are standing at the crossroads of history. The important capitals of the world in a few years will either be Berlin and Moscow, or Washington and London. I, for one, prefer Congress and Parliament to Hitler’s Reichstag and Stalin’s Kremlin. And because we were for a time, side by side, I know this Unknown Soldier does too. We owe it to him to renew that lease of liberty he helped us to get.

During World War II, York attempted to re-enlist in the Army. However, at fifty-four years of age, overweight, near-diabetic and with evidence of arthritis, he was denied enlistment as a combat soldier. Instead, he was commissioned as a major in the Army Signal Corps.

York originally believed in the morality of America’s intervention in World War I.¬†By the mid-1930s, he looked back on it more critically: “I can’t see that we did any good. There’s as much trouble now as there was when we were over there.”

York was hounded by health problems throughout his entire life. He underwent gallbladder surgery in the late 1920s and contracted pneumonia in 1942.

by 1945 he weighed in at 250 pounds & in 1948 he had a stroke followed by more strokes.Another case of pneumonia followed, and he remained bedridden from 1954, further impaired by failing eyesight.

York died at the Veterans Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964, of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 76. After a funeral service in his Jamestown church, with Gen. Matthew Ridgway representing President Lyndon Johnson, York was buried at the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall.

His funeral sermon was delivered by Richard G. Humble, General Superintendent of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union.¬†Humble also preached & delivered the eulogy at Mrs. York’s funeral sermon in 1984. ‚ú™


NOTE: This feature module is currently under construction. More podcast/series channels links will be added in the coming days & weeks. If there’s a podcast or video link you’d like to see posted here, please email your suggestions to


‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 57 Minutes 32 Seconds

‚≠źÔłŹ 1 Hour 21 Minutes 52 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 18 Minutes 17 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 10 Minutes 12 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 40 Minutes 58 Seconds ‚≠źÔłŹ Deplorables know Libs suck

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 10 Minutes 50 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 18 Minutes 53 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 52 Minutes 52 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 5 Minute 48 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 12 Minutes 21 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 11 Minutes 37 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 10 Minutes 51 Seconds

‚Ė∂ÔłŹ 3 Minutes 40 Seconds