Sergeant Alvin York, World War I Battlefield Hero, Subject of Crader Lecture


yorkDr. Douglas Mastriano, professor at the Army War College and a colonel in the U.S. Army, will speak about Sergeant Alvin York at the 2016 Crader Lecture in the Humanities at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 in Glenn Auditorium of Dempster Hall.

Sponsored by the Crader Family Endowment for American Values, this annual lecture since 2009 has brought internationally known scholars to Southeast to speak about political, constitutional and military history, encouraging audiences to re-examine their understanding of well-known, but often misunderstood, historical events and major figures.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Mastriano’s talk, titled “Sergeant York: The Myths and History of an American Battlefield Hero,” will examine the life experiences and war record of this reluctant warrior, who rose to fame on the Western Front. Mastriano’s award-winning book, “Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne,” is the basis for this talk.  This biography examines York’s youth in the hills of east Tennessee, his service in World War I and his return to a quiet civilian life dedicated to charity.  In his research, Mastriano reviewed artifacts recovered from French battlefields, and conducted military terrain analysis and extensive research in both German and American archives.

Known to generations through Gary Cooper’s Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 1941 film “Sergeant York,” York is credited with the capture of 132 German soldiers on Oct. 8, 1918, in the Meuse-Argonne region of France—a deed for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

A veteran of the first Gulf War and Afghanistan, Mastriano was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1986 and began his career with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment serving on the Iron Curtain, along the West German border with communist East Germany. With the end of the Cold War, he deployed to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm, where his regiment led the main attack against Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard.  Mastriano subsequently served in tactical, operational and strategic assignments during his ongoing career in the Army. He also served four years in NATO Land Headquarters in Germany and deployed three times to Afghanistan, where he was director of the ISAF Joint Intelligence Center.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to bring Dr. Mastriano to campus,” said Dr. Wayne Bowen, chair of the Department of History and coordinator of the Crader Lecture Series.  “Our students and the entire community will hear from someone who is not only an award-winning historian, but a combat veteran and military strategist at the highest level.  Bringing the story of Sergeant York, a war hero and reluctant celebrity, Dr. Mastriano will enable us to share in his discovery of what really happened not only in the trenches of World War I, but in the making of York’s image in the years that followed.”

The Crader Family Endowment for American Values, within the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, is dedicated to education, research and public engagement in the historical traditions of the United States of America and Western civilization.

The endowment’s objectives are to increase knowledge and appreciation of the political, religious and economic heritage of this nation and the West, and the values of individual liberty, constitutional principles and civic virtue that are at the foundation of this society. The endowment is named in honor of the Crader family: Saundra and the late Don Crader of Marble Hill, Mo., and Stan and Debbie Crader of Jackson, Mo.