Ernest Taylor Pyle, 1900 - 1945

portrait of Ernie Pyle
TIME magazine cover (17 July 1944)

Born: 3 August 1900, Dana, Indiana
Died: 18 April 1945, Iejima, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan

Pyle was born on a tenant farm south west of Dana but disliked the life. After graduating from high school he joined the US Navy Reserve but World War I ended before his training did. He studied journalism at Indiana University but left in his senior year to take a job at a paper at LaPorte, Indiana. Three months later he moved to The Washington Daily News, a tabloid in the Scripps-Howard chain. In 1928 he started the first daily aviation column. He was promoted to managing editor but left after three years in that job, frustrated that he didn't get the chance to write. Recovering from the flu, he took a trip to California, a Scripps-Howard editor asked him to file some stories from the road. Impressed by the "Mark Twain quality" of his observations of American life, he spent seven years driving around the country. He became a war correspondent in 1942, writing letters from the front in the manner of personal letters to a friend, championing the men at the front. He proposed that soldiers should be given extra pay when in battle, the legislation that gave a 50% raise for combat pay was called the "Ernie Pyle bill". Exhausted by the war he took some time off in his New Mexico home, then sailed on the USS Cabot to cover the end of the war in the Pacific. On the island of Iejima near Okinawa, while driving in an area believed to be safe, he was hit by Japanese machine gun fire. His memorial on Iejima was one of only three that were allowed to remain after Japan regained control after the war.

Biography from Wikipedia and Indiana Historical Society

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