Submitted by: John Strasburg

Category: Books

The second-bravest man in the Army was how newspapers across the country characterized Private First Class Frank Gaffney in June 1919 following his Medal of Honor ceremony. Gaffney's heroism was being closely compared to that of Sergeant Alvin York. Yet while many people still recognize York's name a hundred years after the war, few remember Gaffney, a papermaker from Lockport, N.Y., who on Sept. 29, 1918, single-handedly assaulted a well-defended position along the Hindenburg Line and came away with 80 German prisoners. The action netted Gaffney awards from five foreign nations, but why hasn't his star shone as bright as York's or other notable heroes of World War I?

He Charged Alone unfolds chronologically over Frank Gaffney's life, a period encompassing the years 1883-1948. The book's beginning and ending focus on Gaffney in western New York, while the core chapters concentrate on his military service, heroism on the battlefield, and subsequent pursuit of government benefits following the amputation of his left arm from a combat injury.

Read what led the 27th Division's commanding general, Maj. Gen. John F. O'Ryan, to write about Gaffney " one man had performed more daring exploits and had exercised a bigger influence upon those about him by the gallantry of his conduct."

About the author:

John Strasburg is a retired U.S. Coast Guard commissioned officer. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from SUNY Stony Brook, a master’s degree in library & information science from the University of South Florida, and a certificate in genealogical research from Boston University’s Metropolitan College, Center for Professional Education.