Alvin York’s WWI Heroics

U.S. #3395 – Alvin York was one America’s most decorated soldiers of the war, earning the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross, among others.

Alvin York’s WWI Heroics

On October 8, 1918, Alvin York became an American hero after single-handedly defeating a German machine gun battalion.

York was an expert marksman from his time spent hunting food for his family. In 1911, he declared himself a pacifist and would later return his draft papers when the U.S. entered World War I. After receiving a second draft notice, he reported for duty and was convinced by his commander that the Bible supported the service.

Item #20026 – Special event cover honoring the anniversary of York’s birth. It features the Medal of Honor and Tennessee (York’s home state) stamps.

York went on to gain fame for his actions in the Argonne Forest on October 8, 1918. After losing his superior officer and eight other men, York became leader of the small squadron. Serving as an acting corporal, he led 17 men against a German stronghold, with the goal of taking the position and capturing prisoners. They fared well at the start – taking several captives and no enemy fire. The Germans then launched a counterattack, killing six of York’s men.

York then left his remaining 11 men behind to guard the prisoners while he set out to finish the mission. York took out 17 gunners with his sniper rifle before being charged by seven soldiers who realized he was the only one they were fighting. After killing them all with just his pistol, York completed his mission and brought back a total of 132 German prisoners. York was promoted to sergeant for his actions.

When he returned to the states, he was greeted as a hero. General Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force called York “the greatest civilian soldier” of the war. His home state of Tennessee rewarded him with a farm. Later, a movie was made about his life. He used the royalties he received from the film to fund a Bible college.

When Sergeant York died in 1964, President Johnson said the soldier was an example of “the gallantry of American fighting men and their sacrifices on behalf of freedom.”

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17 responses to "Alvin York’s WWI Heroics"

17 thoughts on “Alvin York’s WWI Heroics”

    • York was a true hero, but humble. My Dad, being a newspaper man, had the honor to interview Alvin York at the now a memory Grand Central Station in Houston, TX.

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    • me too!!!! I THINK ALL PARENTS SHOULD INVITE THEIR CHILDREN TO COLLECT STAMPS AND LEARN AMERICAN HISTORY THRU THEM. IT IS FASCINATING!!!!!

      Reply
  1. York was a true hero. Unfortunately today that word has been very much cheapened by being applied to anyone and everyone who puts on a uniform just for wearing it.

    Reply
  2. Sergeant York is my favorite movie of all time. Have watched it many times. He was quite a hero. Greatly appreciate your daily postings.

    Reply
  3. Great articles, like going to history class. Does one of your staff research/write these articles, or is it done by someone on the outside? If it’s a staff member, please give that person “credit” on your articles.

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  4. I am greatly enjoying these articles, especially this one.

    I am a devotee of the Great War and also a Tennessean, and Alvin York has long been a hero of mine. In fact, I acquired quite a large number of his 33 cent stamp (at face value), which I often use as postage in some combination with General Pershing (1042A) and the World War I veterans stamp (2154). According to my reading, York was the most decorated American soldier of the Great War.

    The Distinguished Soldier series also includes a stamp of Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of the Second World War. Murphy was a hero of mine, too, when I was growing up. I watched many of his movies, especially his westerns, and little realized at the time that he was truly the real deal. Like York, he was a humble man who requested that he be buried with a plain headstone instead of one with the usual indicia of a CMH winner. His death in a plane crash in 1971 at the age of 45 was a tragic event. I was six at the time and already a fan, and it hurt.

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