Ernie Pyle


Ernie Pyle

Original Name Ernest Taylor Pyle
Dana, Vermillion County, Indiana, USA
Death 18 Apr 1945 (aged 44)
Okinawa, Okinawa-shi, Okinawa, Japan
Burial Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA
Plot D 109
Memorial ID 2143 View Source

Pulitzer Prize Recipient, Journalist. He received world-wide recognition for his front-line newspaper reports during World War II. Born Ernest "Ernie" Taylor Pyle, he was the only child of tenant farmers, who had only an eighth-grade education. In October of 1918 during World War I, he joined the United States Navy Reserves to see the world, but the war was over shortly without him going abroad. He attended Indiana University, but left college with less than a semester from graduation. In 1922 he took a break from college by working on a cargo ship as a cabin boy and sailing to Asia. Beginning his career in journalism, he was originally a reporter, copy editor, and aviation editor. In 1932 he began to write a daily column on trips to various sections of the United States as a roving reporter for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain. He approached each piece of a report from a folksy, human-interest point of view. During World War II, he followed along while reporting with front-line troops, first in Europe from 1942 to 1944, then the Pacific Theater in 1945, receiving a Pulitzer Prize for his reports in 1944. He often wrote his war stories as seen through the eyes of the soldier, with narratives written in the first person by using the pronoun "I." Eventually, his columns appeared in 200 newspapers. Covering the "Last Major Battle of World War II" on Okinawa in 1945, he decided to accompany the troops during the invasion of the small nearby island of Shima. While in a jeep with four others, they encountered rapid fire from a Japanese machine-gunner. Taking cover in a nearby ditch, Ernie Pyle peered his head up over the edge for a quick glance. At that point, a bullet struck him in the temple region of his brain resulting in instant death. The soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division made a wooden coffin for him and buried him wearing his helmet. Later, he was reburied at the U.S. Army cemetery on Okinawa and finally moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl Crater located in Honolulu. His wooden cross on Shima was replaced by a permanent stone monument, which reads: "At this spot the 77th Infantry Division lost a buddy Ernie Pyle 18 April 1945." In 1925 he married Jerry Siebold and the couple made their home in New Mexico. Although his wife traveled on the road with him to get his story, their marriage was not stable with episodes of alcoholism, diagnosed mental illness, his wife attempting suicide, and a divorce and remarriage. His wife died of influenza seven months after his death. The couple did not have children. His World War I military grave marker reads "Purple Heart." In 1983 he was award posthumously the Purple Heart not for his World War I service but his World War II wound, which is a rare honor for a civilian. He was honored with scholarships at Indiana University (whose School of Journalism is now named for him) and University of New Mexico, several streets with his name, given posthumously the Medal for Merit in July of 1945, and the United States Postal Service issued a 16-cent stamp on May 17, 1971 to name a few honors.

Bio by: Linda Davis


SEA 3 U.S. Navy
World War I
Purple Heart

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 2143
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ernie Pyle (3 Aug 1900–18 Apr 1945), Find a Grave Memorial ID 2143, citing National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .