Alvin Cullum York of Tennessee was the most famous American Soldier of World War I. His accomplishments as an infantryman in the 82nd All American Division are astounding. Virtually single-handedly he captured 132 German soldiers, eliminated 28 machine-guns, and killed 25 of the enemy. He was termed as the best infantryman of his day by General John Pershing. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross; Croix de Guerre; and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
A most remarkable aspect of this Centurion’s story is his coming to Christ. His movie shows that he had an Epiphany experience not unlike St. Paul’s. He credits his mother’s urging with the motivation that brought him from a carousing ruffian to a leader in his local church. When called to active duty he had to struggle with his beliefs about the Bible and the Six Commandment, vis-à-vis his service to his country as a patriot combatant. After the war he refused to have his name used for commercial purposes and returned to his native hills to continue his work for the Lord. He farmed a nice piece of land donated by the people of Tennessee. He was a leader in his church, and started a school in his community to help the mountain children to prepare for life and to open up their eyes to the outside world, and did many other good works. He returned to the service of his country in WWII and traveled around the country to rally support for democracy. One of his major contributions was his technical assistance in the movie Sgt. York released in 1941.
The most entertaining way to become familiar with this great soldier and Christian is by watching the Sergeant York movie staring Gary Cooper. I’d also recommend this site published by the York Institute where you’ll find a short biography and his diary. I enjoyed reading Sgt. York, His Life and Legacy, or read this Sgt. York and His People online. If you are down around Pall Mall, Tennessee be sure to stop in and see the Alvin C. York Historic Park.