Ernie Pyle (1900-1945) was an American war correspondent, best known for
his columns about the daily lives of servicemen during World War II. His
work was collected into popular anthologies like Here Is Your War and
Brave Men, and were made into the film The Story of G.I. Joe,
which starred Robert Mitchum, and which cast Burgess Meredith in the role
of Ernie Pyle. His work, written in a down-to-earth, folksy style, always
celebrated the courage and determination of the average fighting man, and
reminded the readers back home of why their support was needed.
At the same time, he avoided covering graphically the horrors of war
which he frequently witnessed.
He was born and educated in Indiana, and studied journalism at
Indiana University, though he never graduated. Eventually, he found his
way to a writing job in Washington, D.C., where he met his wife, Jerry.
Prior to the war, he and his wife traveled around the United States,
for the purpose of writing a syndicated column on everyday life in the
depression-era US. At the start of hostilities, he
was sent to cover the war in London, and from there,
followed the troops through Africa and Italy. After his European
tours, he returned to his wife in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a short time,
before deciding to return to the war in the Pacific. However, this tour
would be his last. He was killed April 18, 1945 on the island of Ie Shima
by a Japanese machine gunner. He was mourned by the nation
almost as deeply as President Roosevelt, who died
only six days earlier.