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This Day in History: World War II Correspondent Ernie Pyle Killed During Battle Of Okinawa

April 18, 2017

This day in history, April 18, 1945, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of Ie Shima off the coast of Okinawa.

Pyle, born in Dana, Indiana, graduated high school and joined the Navy Reserve. He served three months of active duty until the war ended. He finished his enlistment in the reserves and was discharged with the rank of Petty Officer Third Class.

He later worked for The Washington Daily News and became a well-known aviation columnist. Later on, he worked for Scripps-Howard Alliance to write his own national column that captured the lives of ordinary citizens.

In 1942, after the United States entered World War II, Pyle went overseas as a war correspondent. Instead of recounting the movements of armies or the activities of generals, Pyle generally wrote from the perspective of the common soldier. He covered the North Africa campaign, the invasions of Sicily and Italy, and on June 7, 1944, went ashore at Normandy the day after Allied forces landed.

He famously wrote:

It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.

Among his most widely read and reprinted columns is “The Death of Captain Waskow.”

He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for journalism and later traveled to the Pacific to cover the war against Japan.

On April 18, 1945, Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy fire on the island of Ie Shima. After the war, Pyle’s remains were reinterred at the Army cemetery on Okinawa, and later at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. In 1983, Pyle was awarded the Purple Heart.

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