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Jones, John Paul (06 July 1747–18 July 1792), revolutionary war naval officer and hero, was born John Paul in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, on the southwestern coast of Scotland, the son of John Paul, a gardener, and Jean MacDuff. After attending the local Presbyterian school, he apprenticed at age thirteen to a shipowner at the nearby port of Whitehaven. His first ship made several voyages that carried provisions to Barbados, thence rum and sugar to Virginia, and returned to Whitehaven with tobacco. The postwar economic slump ended his apprenticeship and sent him briefly into the slave trade, which he called “abominable.” At twenty-one Paul was master and supercargo of a ship sailing out of Kirkcudbright to the West Indies. Returning to Scotland from Tobago, he was briefly jailed in 1770 on a charge of murder, for having flogged a sailor who later died. Exonerated, Paul became the master of a large West Indies trader out of London. Again he found trouble in Tobago: during a mutiny he killed a sailor in what he claimed was self-defense. Perhaps in fear for his life, he fled to Virginia in October 1773 and became “Mr. John Jones.”...

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Miller, Dorie (12 October 1919–24 November 1943), African-American war hero, was born Doris Miller in Waco, Texas, the son of Conery Miller and Henrietta (maiden name unknown), sharecroppers. Miller attended Waco’s segregated Moore High School and became the school’s 200-pound star fullback. As the third of four sons in a family engaged in subsistence farming, however, he was forced to drop out of school to find work. In September 1939 he joined the navy as a mess attendant....

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Taylor, Zachary (24 November 1784–09 July 1850), army hero and twelfth U.S. president, was born in Orange County, Virginia, the son of Richard Taylor, a revolutionary war officer and pioneer political leader, and Sarah Strother, a cousin of James Madison and Robert E. Lee...

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York, Alvin Cullum (13 December 1887–02 September 1964), World War I soldier, was born in Pall Mall, Tennessee, the son of William York and Mary Brooks, farmers. A skillful hunter and marksman, York worked as a farmer, a laborer, and a blacksmith before the war. He received approximately three years of formal schooling. His drinking and brawling earned him a reputation as a local rowdy, but an emotional religious experience in 1915 prompted him to join the Church of Christ in Christian Union, a deeply conservative congregation originally founded in reaction to the carnage of the Civil War period. Because church members rejected violence, York sought conscientious objector status when the United States entered World War I, but the Selective Service denied his appeal. Once York was drafted, his Eighty-second Infantry Division superiors persuaded him that America was fighting God’s battle in the war, an argument that transformed the pacifist from the Tennessee mountains into a veritable soldier of the Lord....