This just in from Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Mastriano; the Sgt. Alvin York artifacts that he discovered have been moved to the US. I just have one question: When will they come to Tennessee?
In February 2009, the actual artifacts recovered from where Sergeant York earned the Medal of Honor on 8 October 1918, were transferred to the Center of Military History (CMH). This included roughly 1,000 of the most important items, encompassing some 30 different types of American and 70 different types of German items, personal effects, equipment pieces, etc. The items included German and American bullets, cartridges, canteens, pieces of belts, buttons, combs, brushes, mirrors, whistles, bottles, bayonets, watches, first aid kits, entrenching tools, coins, gas masks, horse shoes, harmonicas, mess kits, straps, hooks, etc.
This endeavor goes back to our extensive research in the US and German archives to once and for all resolve the debate on whether there was evidence that York accomplished the incredible feat of capturing 132 German soldiers after eliminating a German machine gun position and single handedly fighting off a bayonet attack. The artifacts from the fight between York and the German Imperial Army were exactly where they should have been – even after ninety years. After thousands of painstaking hours in the French Argonne Forest, we carefully recovered these valuable pieces of American history.
After the recovery of these items was accomplished and our findings were concluded as accurate, we worked with officials in France, Germany and the USA to construct the Sergeant York Historic Trail on the battlefield and erected two monuments to forever preserve and mark the location where York’s incredible feat occurred. These were dedicated on the 90th anniversary of the event in October 2008. See http://www.sgtyorkdiscovery.com for details.
Moving the artifacts took coordination with an incredible amount of diverse government officials from Europe and the United States, customs, the US Army and the USAF. The flight was fantastic and we flew in an USAF C-17 cargo plane, we sat within eye-shot of the artifacts.
Upon arriving in Washington DC, we documented each item with professional artifact technicians from the Center of Military History, who now have responsibility for the items. They plan to first display these items in the Pentagon and then in museums around the nation (CMH has oversight of some 53 museums around the world).
During the handover of the precious artifacts, CMH conducted a ceremony that included members of the York family and the CMH leadership. The purpose of this event was to celebrate the preservation of the physical evidence related to one of the most amazing feats of heroism in American history.
As for our efforts in the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition, we thank all of the people in France, Germany and the United States who have helped make this happen. Our work is not done. We intend to continue to improve the SGT York Historic Trail in the Argonne Forest of France and to do our part to honor the legacy and heroism of Alvin York for the next generation.