Sergeant Alvin C. York


I’m a pretty big military history buff myself, and one of my favorite war heroes of all time is Sergeant Alvin C. York.  In case you’ve never heard of this remarkable man before, I would like to share a few quick facts about him.

About Sergeant Alvin C. York

  • He was born on December 13, 1887 in Pall Mall, Tennessee
  • He was the third of 11 children
  • Sergeant York enlisted in the Army on June 5th, 1917 (World War 1)
  • He was an Infantryman, serving with Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division
  • He was one of the most decorated Soldiers of World War 1
  • Some of his awards include the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Honor (France), Croix de Guerre (France), Corce de Guerra al Merito (Italian) and War Medal (Montenegro)
  • After the war, he became a war hero when the Saturday Evening Post ran a story of what he did to earn the Medal of Honor
  • He retired from the Tennessee State Guard as a Colonel

Sergeant York Medal of Honor Citation

“After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other non-commissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command.  Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machine-gun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon.  In this heroic feat the machine-gun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.”

Quick Facts About His Personal Life

Here are a few facts about Sergeant York’s personal life, after the war.

  • He and his wife had 8 children, all of whom were named after famous people
  • He refused many offers to profit from his fame
  • He formed the Alvin C. York Foundation to create educational opportunities for people in his local area
  • When WW2 came about, he tried to enlist, but was denied.  Instead, he was offered a commission as a Major in the Signal Corps
  • In 1940, he finally let the press create a movie about his war efforts in WW1.  That movie “Sergeant York” won two Academy Awards and starred Gary Cooper
  • He was a life long Democrat
  • He had seven buildings named after him
  • He died on September 2nd, 1964
  • He is buried with his wife at Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall, Tennessee

Books and Movies about Alvin C. York

There are some great books and movies written about Sergeant York. Listed below are a few of my favorites. All of these books and films are worth checking out. I think you could learn a lot from studying Alvin C. York’s military career and life.

Alvin C. York Video

Final Thoughts

In summary, Sergeant Alvin C. York is a true American hero.  Not only did he accomplish amazing things during WW1, but he lived a very philanthropic lifestyle, helping organizations and causes he believed in.  Although he has been gone for almost 50 years now, his spirit lives on!

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Camp Upton New York: 10 Cool Facts
  2. The Top 7 World War I Movies of All Time
  3. 307th Infantry Regiment: Top 7 Cool Facts
  4. Honorable Immigrants: World War I
  5. The 82nd Airborne: 22 Cool Facts
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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8 thoughts on “Sergeant Alvin C. York”

  1. What an interesting person and a great example of what it means to stand up for your beliefs and rise to the occasion. If I remember what I’ve read about Sergeant York correctly, he was very much opposed to war. However, he understood its necessity and he followed his new found vocation as a soldier with unwavering courage and honor. Thank you for adding some books to my reading list!

  2. While in school I learned a little bit about Sergeant Alvin C. York, but have long forgotten about his remarkable existence and achievements. I do recall our class watching the film Sergeant York and discussing at great lengths about his leadership and dedication to our country. It is very admirable that he did not want to flaunt all of his achievements to the world through movies and such. He seemed to be a very prideful and private man who just wanted to serve and do the right thing for his country. Remarkable and really great to think about! Thanks for sharing about Sgt. York!

  3. If I recall the movie correctly, I think York started out in a medical MOS (or whatever they were called at that time) because he was a conscientious objector due to his religious beliefs. It seems I recall his having a conversation with an officer about killing in warfare and the morality of it that changed his way of thinking. That made it all the more ironic that he accomplished such an awesome achievement in combat.

  4. Amy Skalicky

    I remember my dad talking about Sgt. York and the criticism that came from the movie “Sergeant York.” While he was portrayed as a hero in the Battle of Argonne Forest, reportedly a few of his former troops thought him more of a coward; however, the little bit that I have read about him reveals quite the opposite. In fact, his diary is purported to be quite modest in recording his part in the victory. York was, after all, a humble country boy from Tennessee (I think that’s why my dad liked him so much, for he was a country boy from Virginia) and valued simplicity. It is my sense that there was some jealousy because of his heroic endeavors, setting the stage for criticism when the movie was released.

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