Ernie Pyle Aug 3, 1900-April 18, 1945
Ernie Pyle is and will remain one of my most profoundly inspiring heroes. Pyle was no warrior, no strategist, no great thinker.
Pyle was a writer.
He was a WWII war correspondent that forced America to see and feel and understand what war really was and what it did to men who had to fight it and to people in far away places with strange names whose lives were overwhelmed by it.
His telling of the war and the stories of the soldiers who fought it did not come out of some warm and cozy press room.
Pyle's reports were born in muddy ditches and fire bombed streets and bloody roadways and were the awful truths lived by exhausted, heart-sick, home-sick men.
The words he wrote, the truths he told and the soldiers' stories, which he shared and so conscientiously reported, are still profoundly gut wrenching. LR
Excerpts from Ernie Pyle's War as he wrote it:
....to the fighting soldier that phase of the war is behind. It was left behind after his first battle. His blood is up. He is fighting for his life, and killing now for him is as much a profession as writing is for me.
Swinging first and swinging to kill is all that matters now.
The men are walking. They are fifty feet apart, for dispersal. Their walk is slow, for they are dead weary, as you can tell even when looking at them from behind. Every line and sag of their bodies speaks their inhuman exhaustion.
In their eyes as they pass is not hatred, not excitement, not despair, not the tonic of their victory - there is just the simple expression of being here as though they had been here doing this forever, and nothing else.
The front-line soldier wants it to be got over by the physical process of his destroying enough Germans to end it. He is truly at war. The rest of us, no matter how hard we work, are not.
War makes strange giant creatures out of us little routine men who inhabit the earth.
I've been immersed in it too long. My spirit is wobbly and my mind is confused. The hurt has become too great.
It was a night when London was ringed and stabbed with fire.....
The closest fires were near enough for us to hear the crackling flames and the yells of firemen. Little fires grew into big ones even as we watched. Big ones died down under the firemen's valor only to break out again later.
Someday when peace has returned to this odd world I want to come to London again and stand on a certain balcony on a moonlit night and look down upon the peaceful silver curve of the Thames with its dark bridges.
He never did.
Pyle died at 45 years of age, killed by sniper fire on the tiny island of Ie Shima, off the coast of Okinawa in the Pacific, April 18, 1945, only four months before Allied Victory over Japan was declared on August 14.