Thursday, October 8, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1737


Cornay, France (JFK+50) 97 years ago today, October 8, 1918, Corporal Alvin C. York* of Pall Mall, Tennessee led sixteen American doughboys in an attack on a German held position in the Argonne Forest.

Leaving his men to guard captured Germans, York proceeded to kill 25 enemy soldiers with his rifle and pistol before forcing 132 more to surrender.

Ironically, Corporal York, a pacifist and lay deacon of his church back in the mountains of Tennessee, was denied exemption from service on religious grounds.  York was drafted into the 328th Regiment, 82nd Infantry.

Marshal Ferdinand FochSupreme Allied Commander in WWI, said upon awarding Sgt. York with the Croix de Guerre...

"What you did was the greatest thing accomplished by any private soldier of all the armies of Europe."

The 1940 film, "Sergeant York" won an Academy Award for Best Actor which went to Gary Cooper.  Alvin York died on September 2, 1964 in Nashville.  His funeral service was held in Jamestown, TN.

Sergeant Alvin C. York

*Alvin Cullum York (1887-1964) was born near Pall Mall, TN.  He attended school only 9 months quitting to work on the family farm.  He later worked on the railroad and as a logger.

ACY won the Congressional Medal of Honor & the French Croix de Guerre for his exploits in WWI.   When he arrived in New York City, York was given the key to the city & a ticker-tape parade.  

Back home in Tennessee, Alvin refused to take advantage of many opportunities to profit from his war experiences and instead established a foundation to increase educational opportunities for the youth of Tennessee.  

ACY died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Sept. 2, 1964 and is buried in the Wolf River Cemetery in Pall Mall.    

Alvin C. York Home
Pall Mall, Tennessee
Photo by Brian Stansberry (2009)