Alvin York was born on the thirteenth day of December, 1887, in Pall Mall
. His first two decades were lived... loosely and secularly
. Some time around 1914, he met Gracie Williams
, who convinced him to give up his worldly ways and go to church. He formed long held and firm religious beliefs as a result.
In 1917, York was drafted into the Army. His officers were highly impressed by his intelligence, morality, and ability to use a gun: he very rarely missed at distances up to 500 yards. His religious beliefs, however, resulted in great reluctance to practice with solhouette targets. He believed practicing to kill people to be morally repugnant.
In the fall of 1918, the 82nd Division, York's unit, was involved in the battle of the Argonne Forest. Separated from his patrol, he single-handedly killed 25 Germans, disabled 35 machine guns, and captured 132 prisoners.
He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for this heroism, as well as the French Medaille Militaire and Croix de Guerre, the Italian Groce de Guerra, and the hand of Gracie Williams.
Sgt. York died on September 2, 1964.
"Sir, I am doing wrong. Practicing to kill people is against my religion."
--York, speaking of target practice
at human silhouettes
"What you did was the greatest thing accomplished by any private soldier of all the armies of Europe." --Marshall Ferdinand Foch, on York's feat in the Argonne.
"This uniform ain't for sale." --York, on demands for commercial endorsements.
"It's over, let's just forget about it." --York's modesty about the the event that brought him the Medal of Honor.