During WWI, Alvin York did something that seemed impossible: he killed some 20 German soldiers and captured 132 of them single-handedly. With nothing but a rifle and a pistol. And if that didn’t amaze you enough yet, he fought against 32 machine guns along with rifles and pistols. If that wasn’t enough, he was just out there in the open while all that was happening. A German officer emptied an entire pistol magazine without hitting him and then tried to surrender, and York allowed him to.

A Humble Church-Goer Turned Badass

Before World War I, Alvin regularly sang to and attended the church, but he was known to hit the bottle pretty heavy and was something of a brawler.  Then he had a religious conversion to a small evangelical congregation and cleaned up his act. When the war broke, he “was worried clean through. I didn’t want to go and kill. I believed in my Bible.”

York was drafted into the army and answered the call to the colors but stated he was a pacifist and didn’t want to take up the rifle and kill Germans. Rather than grant him conscientious objector status his command was able to convince him that fighting the Germans was not incompatible with his religious convictions.  They did one Hell of a job with that too.

In October 1918, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Alvin’s team from the 82nd Division tried to capture a machine gun German position near Hill 223, but the Germans got them good. According to him, “Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out.”