With Ed Lengel, PhD
Four unlikely heroes crossed paths in October 1918, as American doughboys fought for survival in France's Argonne Forest during World War I. Major Charles Whittlesey and Captain George McMurtry led men of New York City's own 77th Division, made up of draftees from the mean streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, as they were surrounded on all sides by German forces. They fought for several days without food, water, or medical supplies, but finally emerged victorious—thanks in part to a rescue operation led by Tennessee Corporal Alvin C. York. Whittlesey, McMurtry, and York would all receive Medals of Honor for their conduct, but their story might never have been told had it not been for enterprising sportswriter-turned-war correspondent Damon Runyon, who braved enemy shells to meet the men at the front. This is their story.