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Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle Memorial, Ie-jima, Okinawa, Japan
Ernie Pyle Memorial, Ie-jima, Okinawa, Japan
Ernest Taylor Pyle, better known as Ernie Pyle (August 3, 1900April 18, 1945) was an American journalist, who wrote as a roving correspondent for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain from 1935 on. His articles were about the out-of-the-way places he visited and the people who lived there, told in a folksy style much like a personal letter from a friend, that won him a loyal following in as many as 200 newspapers.

He was born on a tenant farm near Dana, Indiana and wrote briefly for local newspapers before moving to Washington, D.C.. He became the nation's first aviation columnist and later was managing editor of the Washington Daily News before taking on the national column.

With the entry of the U.S. into World War II, Pyle became a war correspondent, applying his intimate style to the war. Instead of the movements of armies or the activities of generals, Pyle wrote from the perspective of the common soldier, an approach that won him not only further popularity but the Pulitzer Prize in 1944.

In that year, he had written a column urging that soldiers in combat get "fight pay" as airmen were paid "flight pay". Congress passed a law giving soldiers 50 percent extra pay for combat service. The legislation was called "the Ernie Pyle bill."

He reported from the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. Pyle died on Ie Shima, an island off Okinawa Honto, as the result of machine gun fire from an enemy sniper.

Pyle's legacy is preserved at Indiana University, where he began his journalism training. The School of Journalism is housed in "Ernie Pyle Hall," and scholarships originated 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, which starred Burgess Meredith as Pyle.

Pyle is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.


  • James Tobin. Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II. Hardcover: Free Press (1997), ISBN 0684836424; Paperback: University Press of Kansas (1998), ISBN 0700608974

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Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46