ERNIE PYLE was a beloved journalist and military correspondent during WWII. Pyle studied journalism at Indiana University but left school to become a reporter for a small newspaper prior to moving to Washington. After working as a reporter and an aviation writer, he eventually became managing editor for the Washington Daily News. In 1932 he began writing a national travel column syndicated by the Scripps-Howard chain to about 200 newspapers. Traveling about the country in his car, he captured the hearts of Americans by writing in his folksy style about the unusual places and the lives of the ordinary people that he met.
When the Second World War broke out, Pyle became a war correspondent and carried his unique style and insight into battle. He became the most popular of all correspondents, writing simple first-hand accounts about the experiences of the common enlisted men rather than writing about the official military perspective. He was awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize in 1944, and the next year he was killed by Japanese machine gun fire.
Pyle was laid to rest between two unknown soldiers on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. His legacy is preserved by literature, film, a library, awards, and scholarships. His outstanding journalism is the inspiration for the NSNC Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award, given yearly to honor a columnist who exemplifies outstanding achievement in the tradition of Ernie Pyle.
The war in Iraq has created a new interest in the work of Pyle and his realistic accounts of war, death, awe, life and loss. We invite you to visit the Indiana University School of Journalism where some of Pyle’s most-read and most inspiring columns have been reprinted.
On This Day – New York Times – April 19, 1945
“You begin to feel that you can’t go on forever without being hit. I feel that I’ve used up all my chances, and I hate it. I don’t want to be killed.” — Ernest Pyle