Made famous by Gary Cooper’s 1941 Academy Award winning film “Sergeant York,” Alvin’s fame was won as a Corporal in the 82nd Infantry. It was October 8, 1918, and though the war seemed to be dragging on indefinitely, Germany would sign an armistice in just over a month – arguably due to the achievement of York and many others like him.

The story is too remarkable to settle for a passing synopsis: this account is fantastic – – because it tells the critical German side of the story.

What stands out to me is that York was a devout Christian – initially reluctant to fight at all in the war. But after working through his own convictions, in the end he felt it was his duty to fight and he was confident that God would protect him. This detail becomes paramount in light of the fact that of the 17 soldiers that set out to infiltrate the German lines and disable their many machine gun nests, only York came out of the mission untouched by enemy fire.

And his single-handed assault on at least three machine gun nests, in which he killed 25 men with meticulous accuracy as they bobbed their heads up to take aim at him, is like a modern day version of Jonathan’s ascent against the Philistine outpost in 1 Sam. 14. Even as he was sharp-shooting the Germans, York was calling out for their surrender! Finally, after York repulsed a six man bayonet charge with his pistol, the German commander surrendered his whole company to a single American corporal!

York’s summary is the best conclusion: “I am a witness to the fact that God did help me out of that hard battle; for the bushes were shot up all around me and I never got a scratch.”