Alvin Cullum York (1887-1964) was a United States soldier, famous for his heroism in World War 1.
York was born in near poverty in Pall Mall, Tennessee. His family owned a meager farm and often supplemented their diet via hunting. As a result young Alvin became an expert marksman in the area woods. York was something of a “nuisance” as a youth, frequently fighting in drunken brawls.
In 1914 his best friend was killed in a bar fight, prompting York to change his ways. He became a devout Christian after that incident, which led him to file as a conscientious objector at the start of World War 1 (though there are disputes as to his exact technical status).
York eventually was drafted into the 82nd Infantry Division in 1917. In the Battle of Meuse River-Argonne Forest he single handedly killed 25 German soldiers and captured an amazing 132, as well as a number of enemy machine guns. For this accomplishment he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, the French Legion of Honor, the Croce di Guerra of Italy, the War Medal of Montenegro, and the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Returning home as a war hero he founded a private agriculture university near his home town.
He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1964 and is buried in Pall Mall.
Gary Cooper played York in the 1941 movie Sergeant York.