The Sergeant York Discovery Expedition
Discovering History Through Research
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Commemoration Day

In October 2006, SYDE discovered the location where Alvin York fought off a bayonet attack, led by Lt. Fritz Endriss of the 2nd Wurttembergische Landwehr Division 120th Regiment, and captured 132 German soldiers.  Since that time SYDE has been working with French organizations and authorities to establish an historic trail and monument on this location. 

Thanks to a long list of friends, noted at the bottom of this page, the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition is honored to announce the official opening of the Sergeant York Historic Trail and Monument!



The trail dedication and official opening were held in conjunction with the commemoration of the
90th anniversary of the actions which earned Alvin York the Medal of Honor.  
The commemoration was held on Saturday October 4th in Châtel Chéhéry, France.

The days leading up to the events were rainy and cold and it looked like we were in for a wet afternoon together.  On Saturday, however, God answered the prayers of many and blessed everyone with a
beautiful sunny day to enjoy the ceremonies.


The ceremony consisted of music provided by the US Army Europe Brass Quintet, who opened with the U.S. and French National anthems.  An invocation was delivered by U.S. Army Chaplin Bob Owen. 
Remarks were given by the Mayor of Châtel Chéhéry Alain Rickal followed by the reciting of the Boy Scout Law in English by Nate Eggert and in French by Josiah Mastriano.  

Perhaps the highlight of the Commemoration came next when Alvin York's grandson Col. Gerald York spoke of the legacy of his grandfather who we honored that day.  By request of the York family, this was followed by the singing of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, one of Alvin York's favorite hymns.  The 5th
Signal Commander BG Smith gave a touching speech followed by the sous-préfet of the region.  To show our respects to those from Châtel Chéhéry who died for the cause of freedom, wreaths were laid at the York plaque in the town square followed by the playing of Taps.  The benediction was given by BJ Rudge to close this portion of the ceremony.


Saturday October 4th 2008 ~ Town Hall, Châtel Chéhéry, France

    

      
Over 600 people attend the Commemoration Ceremony, including these American and French soldiers
 as well as soldiers from Germany and Belgium,  Members of the York Family, French Dignitaries, members of the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Mayors of Fléville and Châtel Chéhéry and many citizens from the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K.



The ceremony opens with SYDE Co-Founder Kory O'Keefe reciting a quote from Alvin York written on the York monument at the location where SGT. York earned the Medal of Honor.

"... God did help me out of that hard battle, for the bushes were shot up all around me and I never got a scratch."



     
Chaplin Bob Owen gives the invocation and Mayor Alain Rickal delivers remarks.


Boy Scouts Nate Eggert and Josiah Mastriano (right) recite the Boy Scout Law in English and French respectively.

     
Alvin York's grandson COL. Gerald York speaks about the legacy of his grandfather.



 From left to right, Alvin York's son, George Edward York, great grand-daughter Deborah York,
and grandson COL Gerald York stand and sing one of Alvin's favorite hymns,
The Battle Hymn of the Republic.


  
5th Signal Commander BG Smith (left) and the sous-préfet of the region give remarks.

    
Wreaths are laid in honor of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.


  Taps is played.


BJ Rudge gives the benediction to close the ceremony. 
BJ is the Son of Bill Rudge whose ministry strongly supported SYDE in the creation of the trail.

 After the ceremony, the Mayor of Châtel Chéhéry invited everyone, all 600 plus in attendance, to join together in the community center for a reception.  Guests enjoyed champagne and cake while visiting with each other and viewing photos of York, the artifacts found at the York Spot, and maps of the new Sergeant York Historic Trail.

Following the reception guests were invited to continue the ceremonies and join the SYDE team
in the dedication and unveiling of the York monument and official opening of the SGT. York Historic Trail



Nearly 400 visitors make the walk out to the York Site for the dedication.


          
LTC Mastriano opens with some personal remarks and is the master of ceremonies
for the dedication of the two monuments and the opening of the Historic Trail.


LTC Basener of the German Bundeswehr gives his unique perspective on the actions which took
place between German and American soldiers 90 years ago on the ground where he stood.
His remarks are met with a rousing applause of approval when he spoke of the unity
between our countries today.


SGM Salas of the 82nd Airborne Division, York's division, speaks next and later lays a wreath
at the foot of the York monument.

It is fitting that Alvin York's family, son, grandson, great grand-daughter and SGM Salas
each take a corner and together unveil the York Monument.


   

    
This is a proud moment for the York Family and George Edward York takes his time to read the
inscription about his father Alvin C. York.


LTC Mastriano reads the inscription allowed for everyone.
The inscription reads:

In honor of the heroic actions of Corporal Alvin York
and all soldiers who served in the Great War
1914-1918.

 

70 meters south of this plaque is the location
where York fought off a bayonet attack launched
from the trench to your left.  This action, and the capture
of a machine gun, saved his battalion from destruction and
resulted in the German retreat from the Argonne.

 

"So I am a witness to the fact that God did help me out of
that hard battle; for the bushes were shot up all around me
and I never got a scratch." Alvin York



    
A second monument is unveiled with the help of members from the ABMC
(American Battle Monuments Commission).  This second monument notes the names of all
17 American Soldiers who were involved in the fight the morning of 8 OCT 1918.



Mayor Alain Rickal cuts the ribbon held by Nate Eggert and Josiah Mastriano to officially open
the SGT. York Historic Trail.



The US Army Band plays Amazing Grace while wreaths are laid at the
foot of the York Monument to honor all those who sacrificed for our freedom.  This is followed by the
singing of one of Alvin York's favorite hymns, Rock of Ages and finally the benediction
given by Rev. Bill Rudge.

    

The formal ceremony now over, LTC Mastriano described to visitors the actions which took place
that fateful day on 8 OCT 1918.  This time when people heard the details, they could
gain the unique perspective of standing on the actual terrain where it took place. .


    
It was a beautiful day and for those who attended, for it was a day not only to remember the heroism
of SGT. York, but also his legacy of love to those he helped upon his return.



George Edward York poses with a group of Boy Scouts,
no doubt the inspiration of SGT York lives on through his son for these boys.



An unforgettable and cherished moment for the co-founders of SYDE, LTC Mastriano and Kory O'Keefe,
to stand with York's family at the York Spot.


   
Perhaps our most satisfying comments came from the York family and Mayor Rickal who all
gave the SYDE Team a very heartfelt thank you for the diligence and work on the creation
of the SGT. York Historic Trail and Monument.

The discovery of where York earned the Medal of Honor, the construction of the York Trail and York Monument took the support and donations of hundreds of people.
 
The Mastriano and O’Keefe Families would like to thank the following;
 
Mr. Phil Rivers – Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Director
The staff of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, American Battle Monuments Commission
Mayors of Châtel Chéhéry - Alain Rickal(current) and Roland Destenay (former) 
The citizens of Châtel Chéhéry
Mayor of Fléville - Damien Georges
Jean-Paul & Brigit DeVries - Romagne 14-18 Museum
Eric and Renee Weider and the Weider History Group
Nate Eggert and the Eggert Family
Bill Rudge Ministries
NATO’s Intelligence Fusion Center – led by MSG Gabriel Frank
Members NATO Land Headquarters, Heidelberg
The 82nd Airborne Division led by SGM Jose Salas
The French Military Mission of Heidelberg, Germany BG Scellos, LTC DuPortal,
ADJ Lucas and ADJ Botreau
Major-General David Zabecki – US Army Historian
The US Army Center of Military History (CMH)- Dr. Jeffrey Clark
Lieutenant Colonel Stephan Basener, German Bundeswehr
CAL-NEV-HA District of Kiwanis International – Ken Delfino
The International staff of the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition (SYDE)
COL York and the entire York Family
Boy Scouts of America Trans Atlantic Council
Senator Warsman, Richard Steffan, Anne Brun, Frederick Chopin, Alain Jeziorek,
Patrick Delmotte, Jeff Aarnio, Scott Desjardins, Denis Hebrand, Craig Rahanian,
COL Morelock, LTC Jeff Parmer, the US Army Brass Quintet, US 1st INF DIV
and all those who made this commemoration possible.
Thank you very much!

Original posters from the Commemoration which were posted in and around the area.