News: Pyle remembered on Ie Shima
Story by Lance Cpl. Thomas Provost
Marines, veterans and special guests, including Ie Shima's mayor, gathered on the small island of Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan, April 18, for the 65th anniversary of Ernie Pyle's death on the island in 1945.
Ernie Pyle was a nationally-known war correspondent who reported on World War II actions in Africa, Europe and the Pacific.
"Ernie Pyle was just a hell of a guy," said Donald B. Allen, post commander, American Legion Post 28, Okinawa. "He traveled throughout the world telling the soldier's story, and it's just fitting for us to come and pay tribute to him as the person that he was.
"Even though he wasn't in the military, he got killed during a battle. So it's fitting we continue to remember everything he did for the American serviceman," he said.
This was the 65th memorial service held in Pyle's honor on Ie Shima.
Pyle was not just an ordinary embedded reporter; he became a part of the combat units to which he was attached, said Paul Zackeroff, president of the American Legion Okinawa and Philippines Chapters and retired Marine Corps sergeant major.
"He was a buddy of the infantry," said Zackeroff. "He was right there while the infantry was fighting, right there next to them in the same foxholes and riding in the same jeeps."
Zackeroff also recalls Pyle's writing.
"Without his writing, I would have never known what my father did during the war because he could never talk about it," he said.
Pyle was unique among other journalists because he did not just report on the bad things that happened during the war, Allen said.
He told it like it was, Allen said. He wrote about the good, the bad and the natural and described the war though the eyes of the troops who were fighting it, he explained.
The battle of Okinawa was Pyle's last stand. He landed on Ie Shima with the 77th Infantry Division two days prior to being gunned down by Japanese machine gun fire during the battle.
"The fact he was a civilian and died in battle really struck me," said Lance Cpl. Saul C. Avalos, expeditionary airfield systems technician, Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
"You don't have to be a military member to be remembered," said Avalos who attended the gathering on Ie Shima.
A monument stands where Pyle fell during the battle to commemorate his sacrifice.