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Vocapedia > War > Soldiers > Bravery, valor > Medals

 

 

 

 

Inside the White House: The Medal of Honor        White House        15 September 2014

 

The Medal of Honor

is the highest military honor awarded by the United States.

 

Take a look behind the scenes

at what goes into the award presentation

at the White House.

 

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt53GPz9dmE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Obama awards 24 Army veterans

the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry        White House        18 March 2014

 

 

 

 

President Obama awards 24 Army veterans the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.

The White House        18 March 2014

 

These veterans are receiving the Medal of Honor

in recognition of their valor

during major combat operations in World War II,

the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

 

YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0tSmannMwU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bravery        USA

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/31/
540579313/neglecting-his-own-wounds-doc-saved-10-soldiers-over-3-days-of-bravery

 

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/29/
268404336/a-medal-of-valor-thirty-years-in-coming

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/us/
robinson-risner-ace-fighter-pilot-dies-at-88.html

 

 

 

 

gallantry        UK

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=
D1U0FC10N1CD3QFIQMGSFGGAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2006/09/28/nmedals28.xml

 

 

 

 

heroism / acts of great heroism        UK / USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/us/
04sfmetro.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/
we-are-trained-to-kill-so-civilian-life-is-tough-1634231.html

 

 

 

 

Soldier’s Medal

highest award for heroism outside of combat

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/
opinion/sunday/trump-shithole-countries-emmanuel-mensah.html

 

 

 

 

war hero        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/us/
anthony-b-herbert-decorated-war-hero-turned-army-whistleblower-dies-at-84.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/us/
john-j-mcginty-iii-war-hero-dies-at-73.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/23/us/
vernon-mcgarity-medal-of-honor-winner-dies-at-91.html

 

 

 

 

war hero        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/09/
military-veterans-respond-funeral-appeal-war-hero

 

 

 

 

awards

 

 

 

 

honour

 

 

 

 

highest military honour > the Victoria Cross    VC

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=
D1U0FC10N1CD3QFIQMGSFGGAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2006/09/28/nmedals28.xml

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=
INUCS0PDASPRLQFIQMFSFF4AVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2006/09/23/nbeharry23.xml

 

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/mar/18/iraq.military1 

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/mar/18/iraq.military

 

 

 

 

VC citation

display repeated extreme gallantry and unquestioned valour

in the face of relentless enemy action        UK

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/
we-are-trained-to-kill-so-civilian-life-is-tough-1634231.html

 

 

 

 

VC holders        UK

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/
we-are-trained-to-kill-so-civilian-life-is-tough-1634231.html

 

 

 

 

medals        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/us/
anthony-b-herbert-decorated-war-hero-turned-army-whistleblower-dies-at-84.html

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-11-09-
vets-cover-usat_x.htm

 

 

 

 

be awarded the Air Force Cross for bravery        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/us/
robinson-risner-ace-fighter-pilot-dies-at-88.html

 

 

 

 

receive the Navy Cross        USA

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-11-09-
vets-cover-usat_x.htm

 

 

 

 

valor        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/us/
einar-ingman-soldier-lauded-for-valor-in-korean-war-dies-at-85.html

 

 

 

 

medal for bravery

Silver Stars — the third-highest award for valor        USA

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/29/
268404336/a-medal-of-valor-thirty-years-in-coming

 

 

 

 

be awarded the Silver Star        USA

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-12-12-
silver-mcginnis_x.htm

 

 

 

 

medal ceremony

 

 

 

 

present a medal of valour to N

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USA > Medal of Honor

 

The highest American decoration for military valour    USA

 

https://history.army.mil/moh/index.html

 

 

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/25/
735877430/medal-of-honor-awarded-to-iraq-war-veteran

 

 

 

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/10/01/
653396308/ex-green-beret-receives-medal-of-honor-as-he-faces-another-tough-battle

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/25/
623318852/wwii-soldier-to-receive-medal-of-honor-posthumously

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/31/
540579313/neglecting-his-own-wounds-doc-saved-10-soldiers-over-3-days-of-bravery

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/us/
richard-pittman-marine-who-fended-off-vietnam-ambush-dies-at-71.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/15/us/
hector-a-cafferata-a-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-86.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/26/us/
santiago-erevia-once-denied-medal-of-honor-because-of-ethnicity-dies-at-69.html

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/29/
468559789/president-obama-to-present-medal-of-honor-to-navy-hero

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/us/
einar-ingman-soldier-lauded-for-valor-in-korean-war-dies-at-85.html

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/09/
421573285/in-photos-nearly-a-century-after-death-union-soldier-gets-a-proper-burial

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/02/
411270886/harlem-hellfighter-and-jewish-soldier-get-long-overdue-medals-of-honor

 

 

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/us/
bernard-f-fisher-honored-for-bold-vietnam-rescue-dies-at-87.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/us/
politics/medal-of-honor-for-a-civil-war-hero-150-years-in-the-grave.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/us/
jon-cavaiani-medal-of-honor-recipient-in-1974-dies-at-70.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/22/us/
soldier-who-held-his-post-is-awarded-medal-of-honor.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/03/18/291120789/
here-are-the-24-heroic-stories-behind-todays-medals-of-honor

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/22/us/
walter-d-ehlers-honored-for-role-in-normandy-attack-dies-at-92.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/22/us/
medals-of-honor-denied-because-of-prejudice-to-be-belatedly-awarded.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/us/
john-j-mcginty-iii-war-hero-dies-at-73.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/us/
nicholas-oresko-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-96.html

http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/2909/murray-charles-p-jr.php

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/world/asia/
six-decades-after-korean-war-a-second-rescue-attempt.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/us/
james-l-stone-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-89.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/31/us/
john-f-baker-jr-who-saved-8-gis-in-1966-dies-at-66.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/us/
17murray.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/us/
03hajiro.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/us/
politics/17medal.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/us/
07medal.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/us/
15baker.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/04/us-
paratrooper-highest-military-honour

http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/miller/narrative.html

 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-11-10-
marines_x.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President N bestows the Medal of Honor to N        USA

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/31/
540579313/neglecting-his-own-wounds-doc-saved-10-soldiers-over-3-days-of-bravery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

earn the Medal of Honor        USA

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/us/
richard-pittman-marine-who-fended-off-vietnam-ambush-dies-at-71.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor Recipient > Bernard Francis Fisher        USA        1927-2014

 

Col. Bernard F. Fisher (...)

received the first Medal of Honor

awarded to an aviator

during the Vietnam War

for a daring rescue of another pilot

in the face of enemy fire on an airstrip

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/us/
bernard-f-fisher-honored-for-bold-vietnam-rescue-dies-at-87.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor Recipient > Ola Lee Mize        USA        1931-2014

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/us/
ola-l-mize-korean-war-hero-dies-at-82.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor Recipient > Walter David Ehlers        USA        1921-2014

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/22/us/
walter-d-ehlers-honored-for-role-in-normandy-attack-dies-at-92.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor Recipient > John J. McGinty III        USA        1940-2014

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/us/
john-j-mcginty-iii-war-hero-dies-at-73.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor Recipient > Nicholas Oresko        USA        1917-2013

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/us/
nicholas-oresko-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-96.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor recipient > Van Thomas Barfoot        USA        1919-2012

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/us/
van-barfoot-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-92.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor recipient > Vernon Joseph Baker        USA        1919-2010

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/us/
15baker.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

recipient        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/us/
van-barfoot-medal-of-honor-recipient-dies-at-92.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/17/us/
17murray.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/us/
03hajiro.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

purple heart

 

medal given

to those wounded

or killed by enemy action        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/08purple.html

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/22/
525237227/trump-awards-purple-heart-in-first-visit-to-walter-reed-military-hospital

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/us/
politics/for-kerry-and-hagel-doubts-about-war-born-in-vietnam.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/
08purple.html

 

 

 

 

 award the Purple Heart to N

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/22/
525237227/trump-awards-purple-heart-in-first-visit-to-walter-reed-military-hospital

 

 

 

 

Lynn Davis Compton        USA        1921-2011

 

“Band of Brothers”

told the story

of the 140 men and 7 officers

of Easy Company.

 

As commander of its second platoon,

Mr. Compton

parachuted into Normandy

early on D-Day, June 6, 1944,

fighting at Brécourt Manor and Carentan,

and later in Holland

and at the siege of Bastogne.

 

He received

a Silver Star, a Purple Heart

and, along with his unit,

the Presidential Unit Citation

for heroism in the face of an enemy

during the Battle of the Bulge.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/us/
buck-compton-decorated-veteran-dies-at-90.html

 

 

 

 

medals for acts of valour        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/sep/08/
military.richardnortontaylor 

 

 

 

 

recipient of the medal

 

 

 

 

receive

the honour of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

 

 

 

 

citation

 

 

 

 

award

 

 

 

 

Distinguished Service Order        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/sep/08/
military.richardnortontaylor 

 

 

 

 

George Medal        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/sep/08/
military.richardnortontaylor 

 

 

 

 

Military Cross        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/sep/08/
military.richardnortontaylor

 

 

 

 

Military medal records go online        UK        2010

 

The military records

of millions of British heroes

from Waterloo

to the Second World War

will be published on the internet

for the first time today.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/
8117968/Military-medal-records-go-online.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Heart

Is Ruled Out

for Traumatic Stress

 

January 8, 2009

The New York Times

By LIZETTE ALVAREZ

and ERIK ECKHOLM

 

The Pentagon has decided that it will not award the Purple Heart, the hallowed medal given to those wounded or killed by enemy action, to war veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because it is not a physical wound.

The decision, made public on Tuesday, for now ends the hope of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have the condition and believed that the Purple Hearts could honor their sacrifice and help remove some of the stigma associated with the condition.

The disorder, which may go unrecognized for months or years, can include recurring nightmares, uncontrolled rage and, sometimes, severe depression and suicide. Soldiers grappling with PTSD are often unable to hold down jobs.

In May, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said awarding Purple Hearts to such service members was “clearly something that needs to be looked at,” after he toured a mental health center at Fort Bliss, Tex.

But a Pentagon advisory group decided against the award because, it said, the condition had not been intentionally caused by enemy action, like a bomb or bullet, and because it remained difficult to diagnose and quantify.

“Historically, the Purple Heart has never been awarded for mental disorders or psychological conditions resulting from witnessing or experiencing traumatic combat events,” said Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “Current medical knowledge and technologies do not establish PTSD as objectively and routinely as would be required for this award at this time.”

One in five service members, or at least 300,000, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, according to a Rand Corporation study in 2008.

For some soldiers suffering from the disorder, the historical distinction between blood and no blood in an injury fails to recognize the depths of their mental scars. A modern war — one fought without safe havens and with the benefit of improved armor — calls for a new definition of injuries, some veterans say.

Kevin Owsley, 47, who served in the Ohio National Guard in 2004 as a gunner on a Humvee and who is being treated for PTSD and traumatic brain injury, said he disagreed with the Pentagon’s ruling.

Unable to hold a job, Mr. Owsley supports his family on disability payments. This week he told his Veterans Affairs doctor he was fighting back suicidal impulses, something he has struggled with since his return. “You relive it every night and every day,” he said. “You dream about it. You can see it, taste it, see people getting killed constantly over and over.”

“It is a soldier’s injury,” he said, angrily, in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

But many soldiers do not feel that way. In online debates and interviews they expressed concern that the Purple Heart would be awarded to soldiers who faked symptoms to avoid combat or receive a higher disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I’m glad they finally got something right,” said Jeremy Rausch, an Army staff sergeant who saw some of the Iraq War’s fiercest fighting in Adhamiya in 2006 and 2007. “PTSD can be serious, but there is absolutely no way to prove that someone truly is suffering from it or faking it.”

The Purple Heart in its modern form was established by Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1932. Some 1.7 million service members have received the medal, and, as of last August, 2,743 service members who served in Afghanistan and 33,923 who fought in Iraq had received the award.

The medal entitles veterans to enhanced benefits, including exemptions from co-payments for veterans hospital and outpatient care and gives them higher priority in scheduling appointments.

The Pentagon left open the possibility that it could revisit the issue.

But a Pentagon-supported service group, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, has strongly opposed expanding the definition to include psychological symptoms, saying it would “debase” the honor.

“Would you award it to anyone who suffered the effects of chemicals or for other diseases and illnesses?” John E. Bircher III, director of public relations for the group, said Wednesday. “How far do you want to take it?”

Post-traumatic stress disorder was first identified during the Vietnam War and has gradually been accepted as a serious psychological problem for some who experience violence and fear.

Dr. Barbara V. Romberg, a psychologist in Bethesda, Md., and founder of Give an Hour, which offers mental health services to troops and their families, said that she and many other psychologists believed the discussion of Purple Hearts had brought more attention to post-traumatic stress disorder and the seriousness of psychological wounds suffered on the battlefield.

“We’re working to normalize post-traumatic stress as an understandable human consequence of war that can result in very serious damage to some people’s lives, and they deserve honoring for that,” she said.

“But I don’t want to be so quick to condemn the decision,” she added.

Many have post-traumatic stress, but only some develop a serious lasting disorder; in both cases, she said, “people deserve to be honored in some way for the injury they received in combat.”

After years of criticism for ignoring the problem, the Defense Department and the Veterans Administration have bolstered their capacity to diagnose and treat PTSD, and those with serious cases may receive substantial disability benefits. Some of those suffering from severe traumatic brain injuries qualify for a Purple Heart because they required medical treatment.

But in its decision not to extend Purple Hearts to PTSD sufferers, first reported Tuesday by Stars and Stripes, the Pentagon said part of the problem stemmed from the difficulty in objectively diagnosing the disorder.

That decision was made in November. It was not clear why the Pentagon did not announce the decision then.

There have been recent changes in awarding Purple Hearts. The criteria was expanded in 2008 to include all prisoners of war who died in captivity, including those who were tortured. “There were wounds there,” Mr. Bircher said.

“You have to had shed blood by an instrument of war at the hands of the enemy of the United States,” he said. “Shedding blood is the objective.”

Purple Heart Is Ruled Out for Traumatic Stress,
NYT,
8.1.2009,
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/08purple.html

 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting Sgt. York

and a Time When Heroes Stood Tall

 

June 18, 2006

The New York Times

By CRAIG S. SMITH

 

CHÂTEL-CHÉHÉRY, France — On Oct. 8, 1918, Cpl. Alvin Cullum York and 16 other American doughboys stumbled upon more than a dozen German soldiers having breakfast in a boggy hollow here.

The ensuing firefight ended with the surrender of 132 Germans and won Corporal York a promotion to sergeant, the Congressional Medal of Honor and a place in America's pantheon of war heroes.

Now another battle is unfolding as rival researchers use global positioning systems and computer programs, old maps and military reports to try to establish the exact site of the fighting on that day 88 years ago. Their heated examinations do not challenge the essential heroism of Sergeant York, yet such scrutiny helps explain why it is hard to be a hero these days.

There are other reasons, too, of course. Wars are often unpopular clashes fraught with moral ambiguity, and while the news media are often attracted to heroism, they also like to challenge myth building.

The military's attempt to turn Pfc. Jessica Lynch into a hero after the invasion of Iraq unraveled when it emerged that she had not emptied her rifle at advancing Iraqi soldiers, as first reported. The initial accounts of Cpl. Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan in April 2004 came undone when it was disclosed that the corporal, a former N.F.L. star, had been killed by members of his own unit.

Military abuses now have a longer shelf life than acts of derring-do.

It was easier to create heroic stories in 1918 when the press was more pliable and the public more gullible, and the popular media had a fondness for uplifting tales of uncomplicated bravery. Though newspaper articles at the time refer to members of Sergeant York's platoon who challenged the accounts of that day, the doubters were given only enough attention to dismiss them.

His exploits grew until he had single-handedly silenced 35 German machine gun nests and killed 25 enemy soldiers.

The latter-day search for the site of his heroic stand raises questions about the long-accepted story. In particular, evidence of the sprawl of German military positions that day does not mesh easily with the geographic concentration described in Sergeant York's published diary.

According to his account, he was in a group of 17 men who sneaked behind enemy lines to attack German machine gunners who were holding up a larger American advance. They surprised a group of soldiers, who surrendered, but almost immediately came under fire from machine gunners on a ridge 30 yards away.

Six of the Americans were killed and three others were wounded, leaving then Corporal York the officer in charge. He is credited with overcoming the superior force by using his sharpshooting skills, honed during turkey shoots and squirrel hunts in the Tennessee woods.

"Every time I seed a German I jes teched him off," his published diary reads.

This version holds that the senior German officer in charge eventually offered to order his men to surrender if Corporal York would stop shooting. Within weeks the young Tennessean was being feted as a war hero, and by the time he returned to a New York City ticker-tape parade the next May, he had been anointed the Great War's bravest patriot.

But even he seemed bemused by the mythmaking that surrounded him, and he shunned the lucrative limelight after the war for the obscurity of his old Tennessee home.

His heroism might have been forgotten outside the state had Hollywood not revived the story in the 1941 film "Sergeant York." Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his portrayal of the hero, and the film became the highest-grossing movie of the year as another European war was under way.

But underlying the well-shaped tale is a murkier, more complex narrative. Sergeant York's published diary is actually a heavily embellished account written for magazine serialization in the 1920's with help from a flamboyant Australian soldier-poet named Tom Skeyhill, who was blinded earlier in the war.

That diary contradicts itself on several points, and the homey, mountain vernacular in which it is written is almost certainly an invention of Mr. Skeyhill, who often wrote in colorful dialects. Michael Birdwell, a historian and the curator of Sergenat York's papers at the Alvin C. York Historic Site, says the sergeant's family has never made the real diary available to historians, so it is not clear what it contains.

"The question is, what is really York and what is after-the-fact addition and what is plain fabrication?" said Mr. Birdwell, who is part of a team searching for the exact location of the battle. "I personally dismiss much of the document."

Nor did Sergeant York's tale go unchallenged. Although the Army took affidavits from the surviving platoon members corroborating his account, at least one of the men later asserted that he, too, had fired his weapon during the battle and that it was impossible to tell who was responsible for killing the most Germans or how many of them had died.

Two corporals, William Cutting and Bernard Early, who were both wounded, said the Sergeant York legend had started with a reporter for The Saturday Evening Post, George Patullo. They met him at a first aid station after the incident, they said, and told him about the day's events.

Mr. Patullo chose to focus on Sergeant York, presumably because of the tighter, richer narrative his story allowed. The article, titled "The Second Elder Gives Battle" in a reference to his position in his Tennessee church, tells the story of an uneducated backwoods Christian who reluctantly goes to war and reconciles his religious beliefs with his sense of duty to his country.

The article made him an instant celebrity. But Corporal Cutting insisted long after the war that the senior German officer had surrendered to him that day, not to Sergeant York. He even threatened Warner Brothers with legal action if it did not acknowledge his claims in the film.

At the release of the film, The Boston Globe ran an advertisement in the name of the seven men saying that they did not recall signing the affidavits corroborating Sergeant York's account and that none of them were "in agreement with Warner Bros.' or Sergeant York's version of what really happened 'over there.' "

The Germans, too, investigated the incident and found that Sergeant York could not possibly have carried out the feat alone. They suggested that the story was a compilation of several events that day. Almost all of those who have wrestled with the tale, like Mr. Birdwell, agree that the claim that he silenced 35 machine guns is pure fiction.

Still, the many inconsistencies do not detract from the fact that he and his comrades exhibited extraordinary courage that day.

Now competing groups obsessed with pinning down the truth — to the amusement of the local French — are using modern forensics to find the spot where Sergeant York stood.

A group of Tennessee college professors announced in March that they were "80 percent" certain that they had located the spot using metal detectors, hand-held global positioning devices and a sophisticated computer program that overlays historic and modern maps. But an American military intelligence officer working for NATO insists that the professors' location is wrong and that he is close to finding the correct spot.

"They're not even in the right valley," said the officer, Lt. Col. Douglas Mastriano, standing in a poplar grove with a metal detector that beeps and buzzes at buried shrapnel and cartridge casings.

Each side says its theories about where Sergeant York stood will be proved correct if it finds spent cartridges from a Colt .45 semiautomatic pistol that he and several witnesses said he fired at seven German soldiers who charged him with fixed bayonets.

But each .45 cartridge casing is less than an inch long, and the pan of a metal detector is only about a foot wide. The wooded area in which he could have been standing covers more than a square mile and is peppered with bits of exploded artillery and bullets, as well as spent rifle and machine gun cartridges.

In the end, it does not really matter who is right. The wooded valley where the fighting took place, its silence broken only by intermittent birdsong, still carries geography's sometimes powerful spell. Standing there, one can imagine the murmur of voices, followed by shouts, the sickening rattle of machine gun fire and, finally, the cries of falling men.

Mr. Birdwell and Colonel Mastriano have found American ammunition that may have come from York's bolt-action Lee-Enfield Model 17 rifle. Colonel Mastriano also found an American bullet buried in the dirt on the crest of the ridge that he says Sergeant York was firing at.

But his rifle has disappeared, and so there is no way of verifying whether he fired any of the rounds found. The proof, both sides say, will be finding cartridge casings from a Colt .45 semiautomatic like the one that Sergeant York fired — if they are to be found at all.

Revisiting Sgt. York and a Time When Heroes Stood Tall,
NYT,
18.6.2006,
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/18/world/europe/
18hero.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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