York, Robert H.

Robert York graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Class of 1938. By 1943, he was a Lieutenant Colonel commanding a battalion with the 1st Infantry Division in Africa. He was presented the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces from 23 to 25 March 1943, near El Guettar, Tunisia. In a determined attempt to smash the American offensive, more than 200 enemy tanks, half-tracks and armored vehicles assaulted the position of the 18th Infantry at dawn on 23 March. Lieutenant Colonel York, Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, immediately initiated the dogged resistance of his troops by circulating freely among his men in the face of severe enemy artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire. Although raked by machine gun and artillery fire from armored vehicles which at one time flanked his position and penetrated six miles to his rear, Lieutenant Colonel York moved without concern throughout his exposed battalion position to stiffen the resistance of his troops and direct their employment of rifle grenades, thereby accounting for several enemy vehicles at ranges of less than one hundred yards. Again that afternoon during an enemy assault, paced by savage dive-bombing attacks and supported by heavy machine gun, mortar and artillery fire, Lieutenant Colonel York's battalion, although virtually exhausted after three days of constant fighting, successfully stopped the enemy thrust. The ability of this battalion to hold its position under overwhelming attack and thereby insure the success of later American operations in that sector was largely due to the courageous leadership and brave example of its Commander. Lieutenant Colonel York's personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army.