Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A GREAT RIDE AND A REAL HERO

This is Kevin, a very good friend of mine. He was kind enough to guide me on today's exploratory ride through the Big South Fork Country here in Tennessee. He knows the country; that's for sure. Big Red followed the bright red BMW of Kevin's all day. We negotiated some of the most spectacular country Tennessee has to offer. Our highways consisted of primarily curvy and twisty mountain roads that all lead to spectacular vistas and historical places. Thank you Kevin for a memorable ride and a marvelous day.
This is Kevin's BMW and my Harley, Big Red. We're parked on a bridge that overlooks the Big South Fork River
This strange limestone formation is caused by erosion. There is a walkway under it. It is just one of the amazing places on the Big South Fork
The Big South Fork River
It was a chilly day on October 8, 1918 in the Argonne Forest. A light breeze fanned the trees on the hills ahead and on both sides of a narrow valley. Tall grasses grew in the little meadow and were in shadow as the sun's rays were blocked by a tall hill as it climbed slowly to its place in the sky. A line of sixteen men, American soldiers, slowly walked into the little meadow. They were spread apart from each other by fifteen feet. Every head swiveled left, right, up and behind as they carefully walked forward toward the surrounding hills. This was World War I and they were sent to capture and take control of the Decauville Railroad. It lay behind the hill just ahead of them. The territory they were walking through was not believed to be occupied by the enemy. But they misread the map and walked unnoticed behind enemy lines. As they approached the hill in the center, multiple shots rang out. A heavier fire erupted. Nine Americans fell dead to machine gun fire. The Germans were on the ridges of the hills. The American officers were both dead and Sargent York was next in command. Each machine gun required a spotter and an operator. It was obvious that retreat was not possible and that forward movement was also not in the equation. At risk of drawing fire, Sargent York commenced to take aim at the spotters on the machine guns. They were vulnerable as they had to present themselves in the open in order to coach their machine gun operator where to fire. Sargent York shot every spotter on every machine gun on every ridge, by himself. Then he started on the machine gunners. He told his men to lay close to the ground. He was keeping them safe. He presented himself as a target through his rifle fire, thereby controlling the enemy fire away from his friends. But there was no return fire. Any German who showed himself was promptly shot, dead. The Germans screamed surrender, surrender. Alvin York and his small squad approached the enemy who had their hands in the air. On the ground were twenty five dead Germans. All were by their machine guns. Most were shot in the head. Also behind the hill and in close proximity to the railroad was the main contingent of the enemy. Thinking the Americans had surrounded them; they surrendered. Eight Americans returned to their lines guarding one hundred thirty two German prisoners. An American Hero? You Bet!!!! To the tenth degree.
Alvin York (center) 1919
This is the Alvin York Burial site. It is located at the Wolf Creek Cemetery at Pall Mall, Tennessee. I felt as if I were walking toward haloed ground as I approached this monument. The same feeling came over me when I visited the Alamo years ago. This was a real American hero. A man who put it all on the line and made it back. To stand here in his presence is an honor.
Here is Alvin York's final bed. Its interesting to note that the IRS hounded him till his dying day
to collect a back tax owed. A Tennessee hero. There is no mercy when the dollar is involved.
The interior of the York Grist Mill
This is the grist mill owned and operated by the York family