An Ernie Pyle Reader









Introduction
   Ernie Pyle was born on August 3, 1900, and grew up on a farm near Dana, Indiana. He studied journalism at Indiana University and enjoyed a long, illustrious career with the Scripps Howard newspaper chain. Ernie Pyle's reporting experience naturally led him to cover World War II, and he wrote about the war as seen through the eyes of the common GI. He lived with the men he wrote about, and wrote six times a week about their hardships, sacrifices, pain, pleasure, and the families they left behind. His column had the ring of a letter written to the folks back home. In summing up the war experience, Pyle said, "There was nothing macho about the war at all. We were a bunch of scared kids who had a job to do." Although Pyle's columns covered almost every branch of the service — from quartermaster troops to pilots — he saved his highest praise and devotion for the ordinary foot soldier. "I love the infantry because they are the underdogs," he wrote. "They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without." Millions mourned when Ernie Was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the Pacific island of Ie Shima on April 18, 1945, while serving as a war correspondent with the 77th Infantry Division. The infantrymen who received Pyle's body after his death found in his pockets a draft of a column he intended to release when the war in Europe ended (it's reprinted on our V-E Day Page). In that column Pyle wrote that he would not soon forget "the unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world."
"Dead men by mass production — in one country after another — month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer."
"Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous."
"Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them."
It's been said that Pyle died because he didn't duck. He apparently looked up to check that his companions were OK, and that's when the fatal bullet found him.

Pick a column: