Ernie Pyle
Ernest Taylor Pyle was an American journalist who wrote as a roving correspondent for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain from 1935 until his death in combat during World War II. He won the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 in 1944. His articles, about the out-of-the-way places he visited and the people who lived there, were written in a folksy style, much like a personal letter to a friend. He enjoyed a following in some 300 newspapers.

Early life and World War I

Pyle was born on a tenant farm near Dana, Indiana
Dana, Indiana
Dana is a town in Helt Township, Vermillion County, Indiana, United States. The population was 608 at the 2010 census. It is primarily a farming community.Famed World War II war correspondent Ernie Pyle was born on a tenant farm near Dana...

. When he was almost 18, he joined the United States Navy Reserve
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. World War I ended soon after, so Pyle served for only three months.

After the war, Pyle attended Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

, traveled to the Orient
The Orient means "the East." It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is a metonym that means various parts of Asia.- Derivation :...

 with his fraternity brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Sigma Alpha Epsilon is a North American Greek-letter social college fraternity founded at the University of Alabama on March 9, 1856. Of all existing national social fraternities today, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only one founded in the Antebellum South...

, and edited the student newspaper. However, he didn't graduate and instead, with only a semester left at Indiana, he accepted a job at a paper in LaPorte, Indiana
LaPorte, Indiana
La Porte is a city in La Porte County, Indiana, United States, of which it is the county seat. Its population was 22,053 at the 2010 census. It is one of the two principal cities of the Michigan City-La Porte, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the...

. He worked there for three months before moving to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

A tabloid newspaper, The Washington Daily News
The Washington Daily News
The Washington Daily News was an afternoon tabloid-style newspaper serving the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. In this case, the term "tabloid" is merely a reference to the paper format and does not imply a lack of journalistic standards....

, founded in 1921, had hired Pyle as a reporter. All of the editors were young, including Editor-in-Chief John M. Gleissner (one of Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States . A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate , as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as a U.S. Senator...

's drinking buddies); Lee G. Miller (author of An Ernie Pyle Album - Indiana to Ie Shima); Charles M. Egan, Willis "June" Thornton; and Paul McCrea. Pyle was named managing editor of the Washington Daily News and served in the post for three years, all the while fretting that he was unable to do any writing.

While in Washington, he met Geraldine "Jerry" Siebolds, his "fearful and troubled wife", with whom he carried on a tempestuous relationship. They were married in 1925. Jerry suffered from intermittent bouts of mental illness and alcoholism. Pyle described her as "desperate within herself since the day she was born".

In 1926, Pyle tired of work at a desk in the news room, quit his job, and with his wife headed out on the road to see America in a Ford roadster. The Pyles traveled more than 9,000 miles before Ernie returned to his job with the Daily News. In 1928, he became the country's first aviation columnist, a role he played for four years. Famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart
Amelia Mary Earhart was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean...

 summed it up: Any aviator who didn't know Pyle was a nobody. Pyle became managing editor of the Daily News in 1932.

The opportunity to return to writing came in 1934 after he spent time on a leisurely trip to California to recuperate from a severe bout of flu. Upon his return, it was suggested that he write some columns about his trip to fill in for the vacationing syndicated columnist Heywood Broun
Heywood Broun
Heywood Campbell Broun, Jr. was an American journalist. He worked as a sportswriter, newspaper columnist, and editor in New York City. He founded the American Newspaper Guild, now known as The Newspaper Guild. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he is best remembered for his writing on social issues and...

. The series of eleven columns was a hit. G.B. ("Deac") Parker, editor in chief of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, said he had found in Pyle's vacation articles "a Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 quality that knocked my eye out". In 1935, Pyle was relieved of his duties as managing editor and began writing a national column for the Scripps-Howard Alliance group. He wandered around the country and the Americas in his car, writing columns about the unusual places and people he met in his ramblings. Select columns were later compiled and published in Home Country. Nevertheless, Pyle suffered from fits of deep depression, never satisfied with the quality of his writing. The daily column continued until 1942, after America's entry into the war.

World War II

Following the entry of the U.S. into World War II, Pyle became a war correspondent
War correspondent
A war correspondent is a journalist who covers stories firsthand from a war zone. In the 19th century they were also called Special Correspondents.-Methods:...

, applying his intimate style to the war. Instead of the movements of armies or the activities of generals, Pyle generally wrote from the perspective of the common soldier, an approach that won him not only further popularity but also the Pulitzer Prize. Among his most widely read and reprinted columns is "The Death of Captain Waskow
Henry T. Waskow
Henry Thomas Waskow was a US Army captain memorialized in Ernie Pyle's dispatch "The Death of Captain Waskow," which in turn was faithfully portrayed in the movie The Story of G.I. Joe...

." His wartime writings are preserved in four books: Ernie Pyle In England, Here Is Your War, Brave Men, and Last Chapter.
After his return for a vacation, he wrote to his college roommate, Paige Cavanaugh: "Geraldine was drunk the afternoon I got home. From there she went on down. Went completely screwball. One night she tried the gas. Had to have a doctor." The two were divorced on April 14, 1942, and remarried by proxy
Proxy wedding
A proxy wedding or is a wedding in which the bride or groom is not physically present, usually being represented instead by another person...

 while Pyle was in Africa on March 10, 1943. In 1944, he wrote a column urging that soldiers in combat get "fight pay" just as airmen were paid "flight pay." Congress passed a law authorizing $10 a month extra pay for combat infantrymen. The legislation was called "The Ernie Pyle bill."

He reported from the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. His reporting was interrupted several times by leaves to return home to care for Jerry while they were still married and to recuperate from the stresses of combat, including nearly being killed in the accidental bombing by the Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 at the onset of Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra
Operation Cobra was the codename for an offensive launched by the First United States Army seven weeks after the D-Day landings, during the Normandy Campaign of World War II...

 near Saint-Lô
Saint-Lô is a commune in north-western France, the capital of the Manche department in Normandy.-History:Originally called Briovère , the town is built on and around ramparts. Originally it was a Gaul fortified settlement...

 in Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 in July 1944. Pyle publicly apologized to his readers in a column on September 5, 1944, that he had "lost track of the point of the war", and that another two weeks of coverage would have seen him hospitalized with a war neurosis. He hoped that a rest in his home in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 would restore his vigor to go "warhorsing around the Pacific".

When Pyle decided to cover events in the Pacific, he butted heads with the U.S. Navy over its policy forbidding the use of the actual names of sailors in his reports and won an unsatisfying partial victory in that the ban was lifted only for him. His first cruise was aboard the aircraft carrier , in which he saw an "easy life" in comparison to the infantry in Europe, resulting in several unflattering portraits of the Navy. Pyle was soon criticized by fellow correspondents, newspaper editorials, and G.I.s for giving apparent short shrift to the difficulties of the war in the Pacific. During the tiff he admitted that his heart was with the infantrymen in Europe, but he persevered to report on their efforts during the invasion of Okinawa. He was noted for having premonitions of his own death and predicted before landing that he would not be alive a year hence.

On April 18, 1945, Pyle died on Ie Shima, an island off Okinawa, after being hit by Japanese machine-gun fire. He was travelling in a jeep with Lieutenant Colonel Joseph B. Coolidge (commanding officer of the 305th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division) and three other men. The road, which ran parallel to the beach two or three hundred yards inland, had been cleared of mines, and hundreds of vehicles had driven over it. As the vehicle reached a road junction, an enemy machine gun located on a coral ridge about a third of a mile away began firing at them. The men stopped their vehicle and jumped into a ditch. Pyle and Coolidge raised their heads to look around for the others; when they spotted them, Pyle smiled and asked Coolidge "Are you all right?" Those were his last words. The machine gun began shooting again, and Pyle was struck in the left temple (the Ernie Pyle State Historic Site in Dana, Indiana, contains a telegram from the Government to Pyle's father stating Pyle was killed by a sniper).The colonel called for a medic, but none were present. It made no difference—Pyle had been killed instantly.

He was buried with his helmet on, laid to rest in a long row of graves among other soldiers, with an infantry private on one side and a combat engineer on the other. At the ten-minute service, the Navy, Marine Corps, and Army were all represented. Pyle was later reburied at the Army cemetery on Okinawa, then moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific located in Honolulu. When Okinawa was returned to Japanese control after the war, the Ernie Pyle monument was one of only three American memorials allowed to remain in place. Pyle was among the few American civilians killed during the war to be awarded the Purple Heart.

Honors, archives, and burial

Pyle's legacy is preserved at Indiana University
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington is a public research university located in Bloomington, Indiana, in the United States. IU Bloomington is the flagship campus of the Indiana University system. Being the flagship campus, IU Bloomington is often referred to simply as IU or Indiana...

, where he began his journalism training. The School of Journalism is housed in "Ernie Pyle Hall", and scholarships, established soon after his death, are still given to students who have ability in journalism, the promise of future success in the profession, and a military service record. A major initial contribution to the scholarships came from the proceeds of the world premiere of the film, The Story of G.I. Joe
The Story of G.I. Joe
The Story of G.I. Joe, also credited in prints as Ernie Pyle's Story of G.I. Joe, is a 1945 American war film directed by William Wellman, starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Mitchum's only nomination for Best Supporting Actor.The...

, which starred Burgess Meredith
Burgess Meredith
Oliver Burgess Meredith , known professionally as Burgess Meredith, was an American actor in theatre, film, and television, who also worked as a director...

 as Pyle.

In 1947, his last home in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 545,852 as of the 2010 Census and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. As...

 was made into the first branch library of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System
Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System
The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System is the public library system serving greater Albuquerque, New Mexico. It includes sixteen branch libraries as well as the downtown Main Library.-History:...

, named in honor of its famous occupant. Today, the Ernie Pyle Library
Ernie Pyle House/Library
The Ernie Pyle House/Library, at 900 Girard Boulevard, SE in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the former home of famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle. It is a branch of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System and contains Pyle memorabilia and a monument to Pyle, who was killed in the Pacific in...

 houses a small collection of adult and children's books, as well as Pyle memorabilia and archives. The bulk of his archives, however, are at the Lilly Library at Indiana University
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington is a public research university located in Bloomington, Indiana, in the United States. IU Bloomington is the flagship campus of the Indiana University system. Being the flagship campus, IU Bloomington is often referred to simply as IU or Indiana...

; the Ernie Pyle State Historic Site at Dana, Indiana; and the Wisconsin State Historical Society. The Ernie Pyle State Historic Site in Dana, Indiana includes Pyle's boyhood home, fully restored. The site also features a World War II-era Quonset hut
Quonset hut
A Quonset hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel having a semicircular cross section. The design was based on the Nissen hut developed by the British during World War I...

 containing many of Pyle's army artifacts (including his Purple Heart), plus items donated by the people of the community where Pyle grew up.

Pyle is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is a cemetery located in Honolulu, Hawaii that serves a memorial to those men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces...

 at Punchbowl on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. 25 years after his death, a special plaque was presented there to the people of Hawaii honoring Pyle, by his nephew, Bruce L. Johnson, Grand Master of Chinese Wand Exercise
Chinese Wand Exercise
Chinese Wand Exercise is an obscure ancient exercise system, related to the martial art Kung Fu. The “wand” in Chinese Wand Exercise is a 48-50” long dowel, 1” in diameter, , used as a fulcrum for balance, form and posture...


A stone monument was erected on Ie Shima at the site where Pyle was killed. The monument has the form of a truncated pyramid echoing the truncated-triangle shape of the "Statue of Liberty" Division's insignia on the upper facade, with engraved text below: "At this spot the 77th Infantry Division lost a buddy, Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945."

Pyle was depicted on a 16-cent United States postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

 issued in 1971.
Charles M. Schulz
Charles M. Schulz
Charles Monroe "Sparky" Schulz was an American cartoonist, whose comic strip Peanuts proved one of the most popular and influential in the history of the medium, and is still widely reprinted on a daily basis.-Early life and education:Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Schulz grew up in Saint Paul...

 paid tribute to Pyle in the Peanuts comic strip for Veteran's day in 1997 and 1999.

Elementary schools near Pyle's hometown of Dana, Indiana, and in Bellflower, California, are named for him, as well as one in Fresno, California.

Postmortem photo

In June 2008, 63 years after his death, a photo resurfaced, showing Pyle, shortly after his death. The photo, taken by Army photographer Alexander Roberts, was believed by AP
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 archivists and a Pyle biographer to be heretofore unpublished, however, it was published at least twice: in the December 14, 1979, edition of the Burlington, North Carolina
Burlington, North Carolina
Burlington is a city in Alamance and Guilford counties in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the principal city of the Burlington, North Carolina Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Alamance County, in which most of the city is located. The population was 49,963 at the 2010...

 Daily Times-News and in the 1983 memoir, Buddy Ernie Pyle: World War II's Most Beloved Typewriter Soldier, by retired Army and AP photographer Rudy Faircloth.

B-29 Superfortress - The Ernie Pyle

The employees of Boeing-Wichita, through the 7th War Loan Drive, paid for and built a Boeing B-29 Superfortress
B-29 Superfortress
The B-29 Superfortress is a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing that was flown primarily by the United States Air Forces in late-World War II and through the Korean War. The B-29 was one of the largest aircraft to see service during World War II...

, Serial Number 44-70118, and dedicated it on 1 May 1945 The Ernie Pyle. The Ernie Pyle was ferried to the Pacific War Theater by a crew commanded by Lieutenant Howard F. Lippincott (USAF Lt. Colonel, ret, dec). It was initially assigned to the Second Air Force, Kearney Air Force Base
Kearney Air Force Base
Kearney Air Force Base , was a military airport located four nautical miles northeast of the central business district of Kearney, a city in Buffalo County, Nebraska, United States. After its closure, it was redeveloped into Kearney Regional Airport....

and sent to the Twentieth Air Force, Pacific Theater of Operations on 27 May 1945. The nose art was removed when the aircraft reached its intended operations base in the Pacific as the base commander thought it would become a prime target of the Japanese for propaganda reasons. The Ernie Pyle survived the war and was returned to the United States on 22 October 1945. It was stored at Pyote AAF TX and disposed as surplus on 25 March 1953.


Their life consisted wholly and solely of war, for they were and always had been front-line infantrymen. They survived because the fates were kind to them, certainly — but also because they had become hard and immensely wise in animal-like ways of self-preservation.

The best way I can describe this vast armada and the frantic urgency of the traffic is to suggest that you visualize New York city on its busiest day of the year and then just enlarge that scene until it takes in all the ocean the human eye can reach clear around the horizon and over the horizon. There are dozens of times that many.-On preparations to invade at Normandy

External links

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