Ernie Pyle came to Bloomington as a farm boy speaking in a rural Hoosier dialect and emerged as someone who loved to write in polished but everyday style. As a student, Pyle was the first editor of the State Fair edition of the Indiana Daily Student. He left school one semester short of graduation to become a reporter at the LaPorte Herald.
A few months later, he left for Washington, D.C., where he spent most of his career working for the Washington Daily News and the Scripps-Howard News Service. He began to achieve national attention as the country’s first regular aviation correspondent, starting in 1928.
In 1935, Pyle launched a series of more than 2,000 columns about his travels across the United States, Canada and Latin America with his wife, Geraldine, known as Jerry.
The travel columns were famous enough. But it was Pyle’s World War II columns, read by millions of Americans, that ensured his legacy in journalism and American history.
From North Africa, Europe and the Pacific, he gave a close-up picture of daily life in the military, whether it was on the front lines or behind them. His work earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for distinguished correspondence. And he returned to Bloomington during a break from his war reporting to receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters from President Herman B Wells.
In April 1945, a few months before the end of World War II, Pyle was killed while reporting in the Pacific theater on a small island near Okinawa.