Ernie Pyle in 1945
|Born||Ernest Taylor Pyle|
August 3, 1900
|Died||April 18, 1945 (aged 44)|
|Spouse(s)||Geraldine "Jerry" Siebolds (1925–1945, his death)|
|Parent(s)||William Clyde Pyle and Maria Taylor|
Ernest Taylor Pyle (August 3, 1900 – April 18, 1945) was a Pulitzer Prize–winning American journalist. As a roving correspondent for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, he earned wide acclaim for his accounts of ordinary people in rural America, and later, of ordinary American soldiers during World War II. His syndicated column ran in more than 300 newspapers nationwide.
From 1935 through 1941 he traveled throughout the United States, writing about rural towns and their inhabitants. After the U.S. entered World War II, he lent the same distinctive, folksy style to his wartime reports, first from the home front, and later from the European and Pacific theatres. He was killed by enemy fire on Iejima during the Battle of Okinawa.
At the time of his death he was among the best-known American war correspondents. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his spare, poignant accounts of "dogface" infantry soldiers from a first-person perspective. "No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told", wrote Harry Truman. "He deserves the gratitude of all his countrymen."
Pyle was born to William Clyde Pyle and Maria Taylor near Dana, Indiana, on August 3, 1900. After attending local schools, he joined the United States Navy Reserve during World War I at age 17. He served three months of active duty until the war ended, then finished his enlistment in the reserves and was discharged with the rank of Petty Officer Third Class.
After the war Pyle attended Indiana University, editing the Indiana Daily Student newspaper and traveling to the Orient with his fraternity brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. With only a semester left he quit to accept a job at a newspaper in LaPorte, Indiana.
He worked there for three months before moving to Washington, D.C., where he served as a reporter for the tabloid newspaper, The Washington Daily News. All the editors were young, including Editor-in-Chief John M. Gleissner (one of President Warren G. Harding's drinking buddies); Lee G. Miller (later author of An Ernie Pyle Album – Indiana to Ie Shima); Charles M. Egan, Willis "June" Thornton; and Paul McCrea. In 1932, Pyle was named managing editor and served in the post for three years, all the while fretting that he was unable to do any writing.
In Washington, he met Geraldine "Jerry" Siebolds, and they married in 1925. They had a tempestuous relationship; Jerry suffered from alcoholism and intermittent bouts of mental illness. Pyle later described her as his "fearful and troubled wife … desperate within herself since the day she was born." She died from complications of influenza at Albuquerque on November 23, 1945. "She had been in ill health since her husband was killed while covering operations of American troops on Ie Shima last April 18."