News: Service members, veterans gather on Ie Shima to honor legendary war correspondent
Story by Lance Cpl. Corey Blodgett
By Lance Cpl. Corey A. Blodgett
III Marine Expeditionary Force PAO
IE SHIMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- "At this spot, the 77th Infantry Division lost a buddy."
Those words are inscribed on the Ie Shima Island memorial that honors legendary war correspondent Ernest Taylor Pyle, better known as Ernie Pyle.
More than 50 veterans, service members, public officials and civilians gathered at the memorial site, April 15, to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent 's passing. The memorial stands not far from where Pyle was killed during the battle of Okinawa on April 18, 1945.
Pyle was a roving reporter for the Washington Daily News who wrote from the perspective of the common "ground-pounder."
"He wrote about their lives on the front lines and about ordinary people in simple words and details, but he made those same people feel extraordinary," retired Sgt. Maj. L. A. Henry said in a speech during the ceremony. "He was a primary link between the fighting men and their families and sweethearts back home."
Pyle was well known and received by the public because of his unique writing style, which, according to 1st Lt. Ralph E. LeMaster, the officer-in-charge of the ceremony, gave "Americans on the home front a realistic picture of what their loved ones were accomplishing on the battlefield."
"He wrote articles in a folksy style, like a personal letter to a friend," Henry said. "The people back home would wait eagerly for Ernie Pyle's books and thousands of newsprint articles that told them of their loved one's life and the actions on the front lines and in battle."
Pyle earned the respect of the troops by being "down in the trenches with the privates, getting
his boots dirty," LeMaster said. "He walked through the mud and crouched in the foxholes, he thumbed rides in jeeps and tanks," Henry said. "He was known throughout the world as the 'G.I. Journalist,' 'the Soldiers' best friend,' and also as the brave little man who followed his beloved Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines into combat."
Pyle's first coverage of the war sent him to London to cover the bombings of the city and the Battle of Britain. Soon after that he joined American troops stationed in England and Ireland and accompanied them throughout their invasions of North Africa and Italy and received the Pulitzer Prize in 1943 for his coverage of the war in Europe.
After covering the battles on the beaches of Normandy, France, Pyle returned to the U.S. and before long volunteered to join American troops in the Pacific theater.
Pyle was killed by enemy gunfire while he was writing stories about the Army's 77th Infantry
Division. He was 44 years old.
Soldiers with the division buried Pyle and put a marker on the place where he was killed that
read, "At this spot the 77th Infantry Division lost a buddy, Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945."
This work, Service members, veterans gather on Ie Shima to honor legendary war correspondent, by Cpl Corey Blodgett, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.