17. A Former Pacifist Who Became a Lethal Whirlwind
Corporal Alvin York set out to do his best against waves of attacking Germans, and his best turned out to be amazing. From an upright position, then from a prone one, York simply drew beads with his rifle on any German heads that popped up, and put them down like it was target practice. All while a hail of bullets from dozens of German rifles and machine guns was directed his way. York’s rifle eventually ran out of bullets, so six Germans took the opportunity to charge him with bayonets. He took out his .45 pistol, and shot all six before they reached him. As he described it:
“I teched off the sixth man first; then the fifth; then the fourth; then the third; and so on. That’s the way we shoot wild turkeys at home. You see we don’t want the front ones to know that we’re getting the back ones, and then they keep on coming until we get them all“. The Germans finally had enough of the lethal machine that none could seemingly halt. An officer raised his hands, walked up to York, and told him “If you don’t shoot anymore, I will make them give up“. That was fine by York. When it was over, he had single handedly killed 28 Germans, captured 132 more, plus 32 machine guns. The exploit earned him the Medal of Honor, and made him WWI’s greatest American hero.