To millions, theloss of him was as great as the loss of the wartime president. Since WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle was so famous, his death onthe battlefront came as a shock to people around the world. Ernest Taylor Pyle was born August 3, 1900 to Will andMarie Pyle. He was born an only child on the Same Elder farmjust southwest of Dana, Indiana.
His father, Will Pyle, was atenant farmer because he couldn’t make a steady living frombeing a carpenter, which is what he really liked to do. Pyledescribed his father, “He never said a great deal to me all hislife, and yet I feel we have been very good friends, he nevergave me much advice or told me to do this or that, or not to. ” Marie Pyle filled the role of family leader. She enjoyed tasksat hand: raising chickens and produce, caring for her familyand serving the neighbors.
Pyle describes her, “She thrived onaction, she would rather milk than sew; rather plow than bake”(Tobin 6). Through school Pyle loved to write. During high school hewas reporter, then editor, then editor in chief for his highschool newspaper. When he graduated high school, he too wascaught up in the “patriotic fever” of the nation upon America’sentry into WWI (Whitman 2). He enlisted in the Naval Reservebut before he could finish his training an armistice wasdeclared in Europe. After that he attended the University ofIndiana to study journalism, but left before he graduated.
Ernie Pyle persued his love for writing, and became a cubreporter for “LaPorte Herald. ” For months later he was offereda $2. 50-per-week raise to work for the “Washington Daily News. ” He wrote the countries first daily aviation column for fouryears before becoming the papers managing editor. Pyle was areporter, copy editor, and aviation editor until 1932, when heaccepted a job for the “Scripps-Howard” newspaper chain. Pyleloved to travel and persuaded Scripps-Howard executives toallow him to be a roving reporter.
Ernie Pyle was very excitedto be a roving reporter:It’s better than a million dollars. It’s a new job, thebest job in the world. Just think! No more sittingbehind a desk! No more sticking to the same old office!No more writing headlines of editing other people’sstories (Wilson 66). The six years he was a roving reporter for “Scripps-Howard hecrossed the continent some 35 times. He wrote about all kindsof things: mountain climbing, making soap, digging for gold,zippers that stuck, and his folks back home.
Whenever he founda good story, he stopped for a day or two. He would talk toall kinds of people. The he would write his story in a hotelroom that night. People that read his column described it asjust like receiving a letter (Wilson 65). In 1940 Ernie Pyle went to England to report on the Battleof Britain.
In 1941 he began covering America’s involvement inWWII, reporting on Allied operations in North Africa, Sicily,Italy, and France. Pyle’s column during WWII reported on thelife and sometimes death of the average soldier to the millionsof the American home front. He had a simple, warm, humanwriting style. He was widely popular, especially during WWII.
Pyle’s columns covered almost every branch of the servicefrom quarter-master troops to pilots. He saved his highestpraise for the common foot soldier,”I love the infantrybecause they are the underdogs. They are themud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts and theyeven learn to live without necessities. And in the end theyare the guys that wars can’t be won without” (Wilson 66). Hiscolumns which eventually appeared in 200 newspapers did morethan just inform.
In 1944 Pyle proposed that combat soldiersbe given “fight pay” similar to an airman’s flight pay. In Mayof that year Congress acted on Pyle’s suggestion and gavesoldiers 50% extra pay for combat service. Also in 1944 Pylewas awarded Pulitzer Prize in reporting for his distinguishedreports from the European battlefront. Ernie Pyle showed his bravery through doing the job he dideven though he hated war. After he died a column he wroteabout his hatred for war was found in his pocket:The unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over thehillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedgethroughout the world. Dead men by mass production in onecountry after another.
Month after month and year afteryear. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer. Deadmen promiscuity that they become monotonous. Dead men insuch monstrous infinity that you come to almost hate them. In 1945 Pyle went to “the Pacific theater,” his lastassignment from “Scripps-Howard.
” One year after receiving thePulitzer Prize he was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire. Hedied in Ie Shima, a small island west of Okinawa whiletraveling with a group of infantrymen. When Pyle died his column was in 400 daily newspapers and300 weekly newspapers. The soldiers paid tribute to him with asimple plaque reading, “At this spot, the 77th InfantryDivision lost a buddy, Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945. ” Since thenErnie Pyle’s birthplace home was moved from it’s rural site toits present location and became a state historic site in July,1976.
Ernie Pyle was known by many people and his death duringWorld War II was a shock. His bravery was shown and peoplearound the world appreciated it. Works Cited1. Tobin, James.
Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness ToWorld War II. New York: The Free Press, 1997. 2. Whitman, Mark.
“Ernie Pyle. ” Access Indiana Teaching andLearning Center. 1997. 5 March 2000
Bibliography1. “Ernie Pyle. ” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000. CD-ROM.
2000 ed. 2. “Ernie Pyle State Historic Site. ” Indiana State Museumand Historic Sites. 2 March 2000
4. Whitman, Mark. “Ernie Pyle. ” Access Indiana Teaching andLearning Center. 1997. 5 March 2000