I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, April 17, 2015
Remembering WWII Correspondent Ernie Pyle
War Correspondent Ernie Pyle
was one of the best-known columnists of WWII and a Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist. Ernie Pyle was known as a “fox-hole” war correspondent; one who
traveled with the troops. He wrote his columns in a folksy-Hoosier style that
endeared him to readers the world over.
Taylor Pyle was born on August 3, 1900 to tenant farmers William Clyde Pyle and
Maria Taylor near Dana, Indiana. Pyle grew up in Indiana and attended Indiana
University. He quit school with only one semester remaining to take a job at a
Laporte, Indiana newspaper.
Ernie and Jerry Pyle
1925 Pyle married Geraldine Siebolds and the next year, quit his desk job to
travel America. He and “Jerry” traveled over 9,000 miles before he headed back
to The Washington Daily Newspaper. In 1928 he became the first aviation
columnist, interviewing Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.
became the managing editor of the Washington paper in 1932 but had to take a leave of
absence two years later, due to the flu. It was during this time that he began
writing columns. The columns were so successful that the Scripps-Howard
newspaper chain offered him a deal to write a national column. Pyle quit his
editing job and took to the road again, this time to write columns about the interesting
people and unique places he found along the way.
Pyle with Soldiers
With the beginning of WWII, Pyle became a war correspondent in the European Theater,
offering a glimpse of the day-to-day life of the American soldier. Pyle was
what we now call an “embedded journalist”; he lived and traveled alongside
these soldiers, getting to know them and going into battle with them. One of
his most read and reprinted columns, “The Death of Captain Waskow,” later
inspired the documentary The Battle of
San Pietro and a motion picture, The
Story of G.I. Joe.
covered the war from the frontlines in France, Italy, Sicily and North Africa.
His columns appeared in over 400 daily newspapers and 300 weekly papers.
was thanks to Pyle’s column in 1944 in which he urged Congress to give soldiers fighting pay that a bill was passed giving combat soldiers and airmen $10 a month
of extra pay. The bill was named “The Ernie Pyle Bill.”
the spring of 1945, Pyle was covering the Navy in the Pacific Theatre. On April
18 Pyle and several other men were traveling along the beach on Ie Shima Island
located northwest of Okinawa Island when Japanese guns began firing at them. The
men abandoned the vehicle they were traveling in and jumped into a ditch for
shelter. When there was a lull in the shooting, Pyle looked out of the ditch to
make sure everyone had made it in, that’s when a bullet struck him in the left
temple. He was 44-years-old.
Pyle was buried with his helmet on in a row of graves among other soldiers killed
on the island. Representatives from the Army, Navy and Marines were all present
for the 10-minute funeral.Pyle was
remembered by President Harry Truman, and many generals, including Gen. Dwight D
Eisenhower and Gen. George C. Marshall, as a rare and dignified correspondent
and an enlisted man’s best friend. Pyle’s body was later moved to the Army
cemetery on Okinawa and once again relocated to the National Memorial Cemetery
of the Pacific in Honolulu.