Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Alvin C. York


Dreams from LORD 2003-2006
21 February 2005

[This is an excerpt from Hand on the Helm by Katherine Pollard Carter]
“He Stood Untouched By 35 Firing Machine Guns”

Alvin York: “On October 6th, 1918, he was in a reconnaissance group of sixteen men sent to locate the German division responsible for the deadly machine gun fire that was pinning down his American unit.

“Stepping out of a thicket in the Argonne Forest, all sixteen men walked unknowingly right into the fire from thirty-five machine guns.  Ten of the mountaineer’s followers were killed instantly and two others were wounded but dashed back into the thicket.  So did the three other men in the group.  But red-headed Alvin York was angry.  He stood his ground.

“Every time a gunner peeped over the rim of his machine gun nest, York sent a rifle bullet through his head.  Oblivious to the German bullets, he stood erect and downed the enemy with deadly accuracy.  When the German officer sent a bayonet squad after him, York picked off each of the men, beginning with the last one and finally dropping the leader.

“Amazed at his prowess, the German Major called out that he would surrender his entire force if York would cease firing.  York agreed, and marched 132 prisoners, including three officers back to his own lines.

“General Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, acclaimed Alvin York ‘the greatest soldier of the war.’

“Alvin York absolutely believed that God supernaturally shielded him from those machine gun bullets.

“‘It was a higher power that shielded us,’ York said years later.  ‘The man on my right and the man on my left were shot to pieces.  I never got so much as a scratch or a cut on my uniform.’”


Psalm 91: 7: “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”

Isaiah 54: 17: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.”

Psalm 34: 7:  “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”

Psalm 34: 21:  “Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.”


Here is an excerpt from To Conquer Hell:  The Meuse-Argonne, 1918 by Edward G. Lengel.  Chapter 16, page 251:

"Among the soldiers charged with carrying out Liggett's plan was a tall, heavily freckled soldier with a thick red mustache, Corporal Alvin C. York.  A deeply religious, semiliterate farmer from Fentress County, Tennessee--one of the poorest counties in the United States--York was a draftee and deeply uncomfortable with shedding human blood, whatever the cause.  The War Department refused to grant him conscientious objector status, however, and his battalion commander and others succeeded in convincing him that military service was not inconsistent with God's word.  York served, but he never grew comfortable with war.  Bayonet training with straw dummies left him feeling 'queer to think I might have to cut up human beings.  I still didn't want to kill.  I still did feel somehow that it was wrong--terrible wrong for human beings to take each other's life.'

"All of which is not to say that York felt at all uncomfortable with guns.  He grew up in an era when guns and hunting were inescapable staples of American rural life, and like Jack Barkley, another country boy, he was an excellent marksman.  Yet York was a different kind of man.  Where Barkley, like many Doughboys, thrived on gambling, drinking, cussing, and combat, York preferred the simple life.

"'I had put all of the drinkin' and fist-fightin' away behind me.  I left it back home on the Kentucky line.  I didn't have a drink all the time I was in France.  I didn't have a fist fight or an argument.  I didn't swear or smoke either.  I wasn't any better'n any of the other boys.  It was jes my way of livin', that was all.'

"York said nothing about the Lost Battalion in his diary in early October.  Other thoughts occupied his mind.  'We went out on the main road,' he wrote on October 5th, 'and lined up and started for the front and the Germans was shelling the road and airoplanes was humming over our heads and we were stumbling over dead horses and dead men and shells were Bursting all around me.'  Faced with such sights, he could only look up to Heaven and spread his hands.  'Then it was,' he wrote, 'that I could see the Power of God helped man if he would only trust him.'  That--and a steady rifle."


  1. Would you mind if I copied this story for one of my blogs? It was very inspiring.

  2. Go ahead, Derek. I forgot to put on the post that it was an excerpt from "Hand on the Helm"
    by Katherine Pollard Carter.

  3. Randy: If you want to see an inspiring film, watch "Sergeant York" starring Gary Cooper. The film shows Alvin York's conversion during a thunderstorm and later it shows York's exploits on the battlefield in World War I. It is amazing what York did during the war.

    For some reason, I have always enjoyed reading about World War I. I had a great uncle who got a battlefield commission in World War I; he was in the Rainbow Division--Doug MacArthur's outfit.

  4. one of my favorites. thanks Tim.


  5. Tom: Here is another inspiring story out of World War II:

    "With the Old Breed"
    By E.B. Sledge

    Page 91: “The conversation with Hillbilly reassured me. When the sergeant came over and joined in after getting coffee, I felt almost lighthearted. As conversation trailed off, we sipped our joe in silence.

    “Suddenly, I heard a loud voice say clearly and distinctly, ‘You will survive the war!’

    “I looked at Hillbilly and then at the sergeant. Each returned my glance with a quizzical expression on his face in the gathering darkness. Obviously they hadn’t said anything.

    “‘Did y’all hear that?’ I asked.

    “‘Hear what?’ they both inquired.

    “‘Someone said something,’ I said.

    “‘I didn’t hear anything. How about you?’ said Hillbilly, turning to the sergeant.

    “‘No, just that machine gun off to the left.’

    “Shortly, the word was passed to get settled for the night. Hillbilly and the sergeant crawled back to their hole as Snafu returned to the gun pit. Like most persons, I had always been skeptical about people seeing visions and hearing voices. So I believed God spoke to me that night on the Peleliu battlefield, and I resolved to make my life amount to something after the war.”

    "Hand on the Helm by Katherine Pollard Carter"

  6. I've read about "Sgt. York, but never saw the film. I should get it. Good post.

  7. Gorges: You will love the film "Sergeant York". Do you remember the actress June Lockhart? She starred in the TV shows "Lassie" and "Lost in Space" in the 1950s and 1960s, respectively. She plays Alvin York's 15-year-old sister and she is absolutely beautiful.

    Alvin York's conversion is pretty dramatic. I guess he was a real hell raiser before he got saved. He was riding his horse during a thunderstorm, he was drunk and then this bolt of lightning knocked him off his horse. He lay on the ground dazed and drunk and then he heard this singing--it was Gospel music. He saw this small church in the distance, he walked in and he committed his life to Christ. It is a very inspiring film.

  8. Yes, I've seen the movie a couple times. It is very well done and extremely powerful. A classic....Alvin York was a whiskey toten, fighting, hard-nosed guy. But he had a very distinct visitation from our Lord in a thunder storm and gave his life to Jesus before going off to war. There's also a very key scene where he struggles with taking a man's life on the battle field and his company commander does a great job explaining the difference between murder and killing the enemy in combat. Something every Christian soldier must work out in his life as my son did during 2 combat tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Thanks again Tim. God bless.

  9. Wow! Now THAT's the kind of courage we need for the days yet to come upon our land...

  10. "By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho' death was levelling my companions on every side."

    --GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to John A. Washington, Jul. 18, 1755