Photo Credit: U.S. Army
Photo Credit: U.S. Army

Verell honors the life and death of famed World War II Correspondent Ernie Pyle

by Martin A. Taylor
U.S. Army

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Japan Engineer District attended the 67th memorial of Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle on Ie Shima.

On April 21, 2019, the Japan Engineer District (JED) Commander, COL Thomas J. Verell Jr., attend the memorial service as the guest speaker to honor the famed World War II Correspondent Ernie Pyle on Ie Shima to honor the 74th year since he was killed in action.

As a war correspondent Ernie Pyle's column was picked up by hundreds of newspapers across the United States. It is estimates that his words had a circulation of some 14,000,000 American homes as he documented the lives and sacrifices of US service members who fought in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Armed only with a portable typewriter Ernie Pyle, a man who was in his forties when America entered WWII, embedded himself with Army infantry units in North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific. His columns brought the war and all of its emotional burden into the homes of America.

On April 18, 1945, Ernie Pyle died after being struck by a Japanese machine gunner's bullet on Ie Shima, a small island located of the coast of Okinawa, Japan. The bullet not only ended the life of Ernie Pyle but also America's greatest war correspondent. After hearing word of his passing President Truman is quoted as saying' "More than any other man, he became the spokesman of the ordinary American in arms doing so many extraordinary things."

COL Thomas J. Verell Jr. commented on the significance of the correspondent and his impact on American society, "In the days before the 24 hour news cycle, Facebook, and Twitter men and women across the country relied on correspondents like Ernie Pyle to bring them news on what their Fathers, Brothers, and Sons were experiencing. His words brought the hardships, joys, and sacrifices our service members faced everyday into the American conscience."

The American Legion Okinawa Post 28 has been hosting the Ernie Pyle memorial service since 1952. The United States Marine Corps, Boy Scouts of America, VFW Post 9723, and the Major of Ie Shima were in attendance to pay respect to the man who was once affectionately known throughout nation as the "soldier's best friend".

"The American Legion takes great pride in hosting this annual event", said Post 28 commander Mark Frease. "Ernie Pyle gave a voice to the American servicemen and we consider it an honor to ensure that his contribution to the war is remembered and honored for generations to come."

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