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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 13 December 1887Pall Mall, Tennessee, USA
Date of Death 2 September 1964Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Birth NameAlvin Cullum York

Mini Bio (1)

Alvin Cullum York was born in rural Pall Mall, Tennessee. Raised in the mountains, he learned to shoot guns when he was just a boy, becoming an expert with both a pistol and rifle before his teens. Under the influence of his high school girlfriend--and his future wife--Gracie Williams, he also became a devout born-again Christian and gave up the drinking, brawling, smoking, gambling and bare-knuckle fighting that marked his early days. When the US declared war on Germany in April 1917, York was drafted into the army, where he sought exemption as a conscientious objector, but was turned down. Inducted into the 328th Infantry Regiment on November 24, 1917, he distinguished himself in basic training until he was ordered to shoot at human forms on the target range. After days of soul-searching, York reconciled himself to military service and completed his training, and his unit sailed to France the following spring. His regiment was assigned to the Meuse-Argonne salient during the final great Allied offensive from September to the war's end on November 11, 1918. On October 8, 1918, York, then a corporal, was part of a company assigned to attack a heavily defended hill near Chatel-Chehery. Pinned down by intense machine-gun fire, York joined a squad of 17 men that attempted to outflank the German position from the rear of the hill. After capturing 20 German soldiers, the Americans were discovered by other German troops in neighboring trenches, who opened fire on them. Within minutes the squad was down to seven unwounded men, York included. The squad's officers and NCOs had all been killed or wounded, meaning that York was now in charge of the squad's survivors. He took his rifle and worked his way to a point near the occupied German trenches that were firing on his squad. From that position he shot and killed 17 Geman soldiers one after the other, then shot eight more with his pistol, killing three and wounding five. The surviving Germans had had enough and surrendered en masse to York; the final tally of captured German soldiers, counting the 20 the squad had taken earlier, was 132. Alvin York managed to work his way with his squad and the 132 prisoners through the bombed-out wasteland and back to the headquarters of the 328th Regiment. York was promoted to sergeant and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his amazing feat. At the end of the war he returned to Tennessee, in 1919, married Gracie and settled on a farm presented to him by his home state. The modest hero turned down many offers for endorsements, claiming "this uniform ain't for sale," and used the proceeds from the book and movie of his life Sergeant York (1941)) to establish schools for poor mountain children. During World War II York served on the Tennessee draft board and was a colonel in the Tennessee State Guard, commanding the 7th Regiment. Alvin York died in his home in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 2, 1964.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Matthew Patay

Spouse (1)

Gracie Williams (7 June 1919 - 2 September 1964) (his death) (7 children)

Trivia (4)

Highest decorated soldier of World War I.
Single-handedly killed 20 German soldiers and captured 132 others during an infantry attack on a German position near the Argonne Forest, France in October 1918 during World War I.
When informed that Hollywood wanted to make a film about his exploits in World War I, York insisted that only Gary Cooper could play him. At almost 40 years of age Cooper was actually too old to play York--who was not quite 30 at the time of the battle--and York was informed of this, but he insisted that if Cooper couldn't play him, he would not allow the film to be made. The film was made with Cooper in the role of Alvin York.
Medal of Honor Citation: After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machinegun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machinegun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.

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