Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The only house he ever owned became, and remains, Albuquerque’s first branch library. A South Valley middle school bears his name, and his face once appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

But, today, many people would be stumped to tell you much, if anything, about Ernie Pyle, the famed newspaper columnist whose writings brought the realities of World War II home to millions of Americans.

Jerry Maschino, along with several of Pyle’s descendants, is out to change that.

“A lot of people, if you ask them, ‘Do you know Ernie Pyle?’ will answer yes,” Maschino said. “But if you ask about specifics, they usually don’t know any, other than he was a war correspondent. … But there’s a lot more to Ernie Pyle than that.”

Maschino and a trio of other board members with the 3-year-old Ernie Pyle Legacy Foundation, based in Gallatin, Tenn., were in town recently drumming up support for a national Ernie Pyle Day. They plan to kick off the effort with an Aug. 3, 2017, celebration at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial, which sits about 2½ miles east of Pyle’s 900 Girard SE home, now the Ernie Pyle Library.

“Our mission is simple: Ensure the legacy of Ernie Pyle,” Maschino said. “We have a lot of avenues to do that. The short-term objective is to visit places and have events where we can bring a lot people together and present this idea” of having a national Ernie Pyle Day.

“We want to kick it off in Albuquerque because this was his home,” he said.

Pyle, an Indiana native, was the best-known columnist of World War II. Writing in a conversational, down-home style about the soldiers, places and events of that global conflict for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain, Pyle reached millions of readers who came to regard him as friend, confidant and teller of truth.

Pyle, a thin, balding man approaching middle age, was on the front lines in the North Africa campaign, the invasion of Sicily, the D-Day landings at Normandy and the invasion of Okinawa.

His columns — which Pyle believed never adequately conveyed the horror of war to his readers — won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1944.

“Mothers used to wait for their newspapers every day to see whether their sons might be mentioned in Pyle’s columns,” Maschino said.

But Pyle honed his reporting skills and writing style long before shipping out to war.

While attending Indiana University to study journalism, Pyle was editor of the student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student.

He quit college in 1923, a few months before graduating, to work as a cub reporter for the LaPorte Herald, now the LaPorte Herald-Argus, in Indiana.

He left Indiana 3 1/2 months later to write for Scripps Howard’s Washington Daily News, where he became the country’s first aviation columnist, rubbing elbows with pioneers of the fledgling industry. His friend, famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, gave him an engraved watch that he wore most of his life.

After a brief stint as an editor, Pyle persuaded his bosses to let him become a roving reporter. For the next six years he traveled throughout the country, writing columns about the people he met and the places he visited.

Ernie Pyle

During those travels, he developed an affinity for New Mexico. He and his wife, Jerry, decided to settle in Albuquerque in 1940, buying a lot and building the modest home on Girard.

Then came the war, and Pyle embedded with the troops.

When it was clear that the battle against Hitler’s Nazis in Europe was heading toward its inevitable conclusion, Pyle wrestled with the urge to leave war behind. But his bond with the GIs bearing the brunt of the war persuaded him to head to the Pacific Theater.

While in the Pacific, Pyle waged a successful war against military censorship by persuading the Navy to rescind its policy that prevented him from publishing the names and hometowns of the sailors and Navy aviators he wrote about in his columns.

**ADVANCE FOR MONDAY, FEB. 4** This photo provided by Richard Strasser shows the scene on April 20, 1945, two days after his death on Ie Shima, where correspondent Ernie Pyle was buried alongside several soldiers killed in combat on the tiny island off Okinawa _ the kind of men Pyle had written about during four years of WWII battlefield reporting. The photo shows a memorial ceremony led by Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce (back to camera), commander of the Army’s 77th Infantry Division, which captured the island the next day. Ernie Pyle’s wooden coffin, with his picture and a sprig of foliage, is visible at the officer’s feet. His body was moved in 1949 to a military cemetery in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Richard Strasser)

Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner on April 18, 1945, on the island of Iejima, then known as Ie Shima. He was accompanying units with the 77th Infantry Division during the battle for the Japanese island of Okinawa. The nation mourned him like no other casualty of the war.

Jerry Pyle, who fought her own war with alcoholism and mental illness, died seven months after Ernie.

In 1983, Ernie Pyle was awarded the Purple Heart — a rare honor for a civilian — by the 77th Army Reserve Command.

(c)2016 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

From Stars and Stripes magazine.

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A short video of remembrance for Ernie Pyle….

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gerry Berndsen – St. Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, C-47 pilot

Anne V. Coates – ENG; civilian surgical nurse for wounded veterans, (noted film editor)

Ralph Diaz – Winter Haven, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Donald Freeman – Birmingham, AL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Carlton Hudson – Larto, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW, B-24 navigator

Bob Jacobsen – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Vietnam, Lt.Comdr., pilot

Charles Marner – Oak Park, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Randolph

Joseph Nixon – Olyphant, PA; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Milton Potee – Rogers, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Harold Schworn – Delanson, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Rushmore

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 21, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 138 Comments.

  1. I own the book “Yank” that has some of his reports in it.

    Liked by 1 person

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