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Soldiers looked up to Ernie Pyle, who stood 5-feet-7 and may have weighed 140 pounds.
Politicians almost never complained about what he wrote. Companies wanted him to endorse their products. Readers not only trusted Pyle, they rooted for him.
An adopted son of New Mexico, Pyle was the perfect war correspondent for his time.
Armed with nothing more than a pencil and a notebook, he went into battle with soldiers during World War II. From chilling, dark combat zones, Pyle fended off fear and wrote six newspaper columns a week that were distributed by the Scripps-Howard chain.
Nobody with so much skill in covering battles did it with so much heart.
Even so, Pyle was tormented by self-doubt. He worried that redundancy was crippling his coverage. For all his star power, Pyle was unimpressed with himself.
New Mexico disagreed with that assessment.
Recognizing his prolific writing, his sacrifice and his humility, the state Legislature in 1945 approved a law designating Aug. 3 as Ernie Pyle Day in New Mexico. Aug. 3 was Pyle’s birthday, and New Mexico was the place this native of Indiana planned to live after the war.
Pyle was just 44 when he died on April 18, 1945. He looked older. Battles are not easy, not the way he covered them.
Pyle’s plan had been to return to the only home he ever owned. It was at 900 Girard Blvd. SE in Albuquerque.
That house is now a branch library. A trip there allows one to request Pyle’s wartime books. The titles include two that are especially fitting — “Brave Men” and “Last Chapter.”
Read the rest of the article here: Ernie Pyle Has a Day of Honor in New Mexico - Alamogordo Daily News
In case you’re not familiar with Ernie Pyle, here’s the Wikipedia article on him.
…He was buried with his helmet on, in a long row of graves among other soldiers, with an infantry private on one side and a combat engineer on the other. At the ten-minute service, the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps were all represented. Americans erected a monument to him at the site. When Okinawa was returned to Japanese control after the war, the Ernie Pyle monument was one of three American memorials they allowed to remain in place….
And here are his D-Day columns, collected at the Indiana University School of Journalism’s online home for information and history about Ernie Pyle.
Now that it is over it seems to me a pure miracle that we ever took the beach at all. For some of our units it was easy, but in this special sector where I am now our troops faced such odds that our getting ashore was like my whipping Joe Louis down to a pulp.
In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.
Ashore, facing us, were more enemy troops than we had in our assault waves. The advantages were all theirs, the disadvantages all ours. The Germans were dug into positions that they had been working on for months, although these were not yet all complete. A one-hundred-foot bluff a couple of hundred yards back from the beach had great concrete gun emplacements built right into the hilltop. These opened to the sides instead of to the front, thus making it very hard for naval fire from the sea to reach them. They could shoot parallel with the beach and cover every foot of it for miles with artillery fire.
May he serve as an inspiration to journalists always and everywhere.