Rival scholars claim new site for Sgt. York heroics

An article in today’s Tennessean states that a professor from Tennessee Tech and another from Middle Tennessee State University have found the site of Sgt. York’s World War I heroic actions that led to his lifelong fame.

Tennessee Tech issued a press release back in March of 2006 claiming that “TTU’s Michael Birdwell and MTSU’s Tom Nolan think they have the artifacts to prove it — including 12 of 15 rounds from a Lee Enfield Model 17 rifle believed to have been fired by the Tennessee war hero when his marksmanship killed 25 German enemy troops and helped him capture 132 more in the 1918 battle of Meuse-Argonne.” The pair went back to France in November, and came home with what they claim is conclusive proof that theirs is the one true site.

Yesterday, Middle Tennessee State issued its own release announcing that the professorial pair had spent two weeks tramping over the battlefield and recovered more than 1,400 artifacts.

The release continues: “The November research expedition was the local researchers’ second sojourn to France this year in search of the precise locale of York’s historic victory. During the prior trip, the researchers returned with the news that they were “80 percent” certain they had located the site, but additional research and work were needed. However, their latest trip marks the confirmation that Nolan and Birdwell were correct in their research to locate the site.

“’Discovery of a U.S. Army collar disk stamped ‘328 Infantry G,’ Sgt. York’s own company, added to a preponderance of evidence gathered by the team (that we had found) the location of the battle that occurred near Chatel-Chehery on Oct. 8, 1918,’ Birdwell said.”

More on the Birdwell/Nolan project can be found at this site.

And what does Lt. Col. Douglas Mastriano, whose research puts the York site about 600 yards away, have to say about all this? According to the Tennessean, “a group headed by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Douglas Mastriano, now serving in Germany, issued an e-mail statement Friday that Birdwell and Nolan’s claim is “100% wrong.”

Stay tuned.

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One Response to Rival scholars claim new site for Sgt. York heroics

  1. Hi Jeff – thought that you should know that the French authorities in the region have accepted the “Mastriano” find as accurate and are supporting my effort to have a SGT York Historic Trail built. Please see our website for updates on our progress http://www.sgtyorkdiscovery.com

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