By Colonel Douglas V. Mastriano, Ph.D.
Colonel Douglas Mastriano, Ph.D. is a professor at the US Army War College and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as throughout Europe and the U.S. He has sponsored Bill Rudge to speak on many military bases. Doug’s amazing accounts of Desert Storm were shared in a BRM newsletter and CD entitled Divine Intervention at Desert Storm. His book, Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne, can be ordered online at http://www.kentuckypress.com. The Mastrianos are faithful supporters of BRM. Please continue to pray for Colonel Mastriano and his family.
Revelation 12:11 says “They overcame him (Satan), by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” A testimony is a powerful thing –– even enough to destroy Satan’s work. The incredible thing is that all Christians have a testimony, and with that in mind, it is incredible how God chooses to use us in powerful ways to change this world for His kingdom.
Thus is the story of Sgt. Alvin York, Medal of Honor 1918. I first saw the Sgt. York movie back in 1972 and remember being troubled by this tale. York was portrayed as someone not looking to be a hero, believing it was against his Christian faith to serve in the Army. This was contrary to the image I had of a hero being a sort of go get-em John Wayne type. But, despite not being all I thought a hero should be, York was the real deal as he proved during the October 1918 Battle for the Argonne Forest, France, where he was indeed a man of iron and honor. It is precisely this that I have tried to capture in my new book, Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne.
York was America’s greatest hero in World War One; his fearless courage displayed on the 8th of October 1918. During one of the fiercest battles of the war, York’s unit found itself in a crossfire from four battle-hardened German regiments. As the casualties mounted, all hope seemed lost for the beleaguered Americans. Yet in the midst of this, Alvin York rose to the occasion. During the melee and with great daring, he charged a machine gun, fought off a bayonet attack and captured 132 German soldiers. His actions saved the day for the Americans and forced the Germans to withdraw.
Alvin York was born into a poor family in Tennessee on 13 December 1887. When Alvin’s father died in 1911, York rejected his family’s faith. However, on 1 January 1915, Alvin attended a revival meeting. During the sermon, York felt as if lightning hit his soul and he was moved to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From this point his life was forever changed, and he stopped “smoking, drinking, gambling, cussing and brawling.” York took this commitment seriously, grew in his faith, taught Sunday School, led the choir and even became an elder in his church. York’s old friends tried to persuade him to go drinking, but he refused. It took moral courage for York to remain committed to the Lord, but with the strength of the Holy Spirit and personal resolve, York stayed faithful to his beliefs.
We see in the story of York’s life that character is like a muscle; the more it is exercised, the stronger it becomes. This suggests that every time we choose to do what is right, we build character and moral courage. York consistently chose to follow the Lord’s Way and as a result, he was able to accomplish unimaginable feats later in the heat of battle. York was a hero in battle because he was morally brave in his heart. York had strengthened his character muscle before the time of battle and the courage displayed that fateful day in France was merely an outward manifestation of the internally brave man he had become.
Using cutting-edge historical and scientific analysis to the York story, we have an account of an American hero who accomplished amazing feats on the battlefield! It is timely as well, that 2014 is the centennial of the First World War. As noteworthy as that is, however, there is something deeper and more compelling about York. In the book we find that York was one of those rare people who really walked his talk and strove to live his life honorably and honestly.
Alvin York was a man of character, the sort of hero we need today in America. My prayer is that this book will inspire the next generation to strive to emulate the moral character of York and to make the difference in whatever God has called them to achieve. Indeed, in this book you will see that “we overcome… by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!”