Ernie Pyle

Ernie Pyle - fondness for the underdogs of war.

Ernie Pyle
Ernie Pyle – fondness for the underdogs of war.

April 18, 1945 – Mutual Correspondent Leslie Nichols report from Okinawa – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

April 18, 1945 – There was certainly no shortage of deaths among correspondents during World War 2, but on that was probably most poignant was that of Scripps-Howard Correspondent Ernie Pyle, who was killed during the Battle of Okinawa, April 18, 1945.

Ernie Pyle was a Pulitzer Prize–winning American journalist and war correspondent best known for his stories about ordinary American soldiers during World War II. Pyle was also notable for the columns he wrote as a roving human-interest reporter from 1935 through 1941 for the Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate that earned him wide acclaim for his simple accounts of ordinary people across North America. When the United States entered World War II, he lent the same distinctive, folksy style of his human-interest stories to his wartime reports from the European theater (1942–44) and Pacific theater (1945). Pyle won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his newspaper accounts of “dogface” infantry soldiers from a first-person perspective. He was killed by enemy fire on Iejima (then known as Ie Shima) during the Battle of Okinawa.

At the time of his death in 1945, Pyle was among the best-known American war correspondents. His syndicated column was published in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers nationwide. President Harry Truman said of Pyle, “No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told. He deserves the gratitude of all his countrymen.”

On April 17, 1945, Pyle came ashore with the U.S. Army’s 305th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division, on Ie Shima (now known as Iejima), a small island northwest of Okinawa that Allied forces had captured, but had not yet cleared of enemy soldiers. The following day, after local enemy opposition had supposedly been neutralized, Pyle was traveling by jeep with Lieutenant Colonel Joseph B. Coolidge, the commanding officer of the 305th and three additional officers toward Coolidge’s new command post when the vehicle came under fire from a Japanese machine gun. The men immediately took cover in a nearby ditch. “A little later Pyle and I raised up to look around,” Coolidge reported. “Another burst hit the road over our heads … I looked at Ernie and saw he had been hit.” A machine-gun bullet had entered Pyle’s left temple just under his helmet, killing him instantly.

Pyle was buried wearing his helmet, among other battle casualties on Ie Shima, between an infantry private and a combat engineer.[62] In tribute to their friend, the men of the 77th Infantry Division erected a monument that still stands at the site of his death. Its inscription reads: “At this spot the 77th Infantry Division lost a buddy, Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945.” Echoing the sentiment of the men serving in the Pacific theater, General Eisenhower said: “The GIs in Europe––and that means all of us––have lost one of our best and most understanding friends.”

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who frequently quoted Pyle’s war dispatches in her newspaper column, “My Day,” paid tribute to him in her column the day after his death: “I shall never forget how much I enjoyed meeting him here in the White House last year,” she wrote, “and how much I admired this frail and modest man who could endure hardships because he loved his job and our men.” President Harry S. Truman, who had been in office for less than a week following the death of Franklin Roosevelt on April 12, also paid tribute to Pyle: “No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told. He deserves the gratitude of all his countrymen.”

A small portion of what happened, this April 18, 1945 as reported by Mutual Correspondent Leslie Nichols from Okinawa.

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2 thoughts on “April 18, 1945 – Death Of Ernie Pyle

  1. Hearing my Grandfather’s voice here is so awesome! I’m constantly trying to find sound clips of his reports.

    1. Oh wow! I’m so happy to have been able to do that.

      Many thanks and . . .my pleasure!


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