Vincent Ranch, Hamilton, Montana, 1914
Ernest (Ernie) Taylor Pyle
August 3, 1900 – April 18, 1945
World War II War Correspondent
By Bob Vincent
Our common ancestor was my 5th great-grandfather
John Pyle April 8, 1723 – January 1, 1804
4th cousin twice removed of Robert Vincent
2nd cousin twice removed of Flossie Pyle - Vincent
When Ernest (Ernie) Taylor Pyle was born on August 3, 1900, in Dana, Indiana, his father, William, was 32 and his mother, Maria, was 30. He married Geraldine "Gerry" Elizabeth Siebolds in July 1925. They divorced on April 14, 1942 and remarried by proxy in March 1943, in Bernalillo, New Mexico, while Pyle was covering the war in North Africa. They had no children. He died on April 18, 1945, in Shima, Gunma, Japan, at the age of 44, and was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii after the end of the war.
Ernest (Ernie) Taylor Pyle (August 3, 1900 – April 18, 1945) was a Pulitzer Prize—winning American journalist and war correspondent who is best known for his stories about ordinary American soldiers during World War II. Pyle is also notable for the columns he wrote as a roving human-interest reporter from 1935 through 1941 for the Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate that earned him wide acclaim for his simple accounts of ordinary people across North America. When the United States entered World War II, he lent the same distinctive, folksy style of his human-interest stories to his wartime reports from the European theater (1942–44) and Pacific theater (1945). Pyle won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his newspaper accounts of "dogface" infantry soldiers from a first-person perspective. He was killed by enemy fire on Iejima (then known as Ie Shima) during the Battle of Okinawa.
Pyle met his future wife, Geraldine Elizabeth "Jerry" Siebolds (August 23, 1899 – November 23, 1945), a native of Minnesota, at a Halloween party in Washington, D.C., in 1923. They married in July 1925. In the early years of their marriage the couple traveled the country together. In Pyle's newspaper columns describing their trips, he often referred to her as "That Girl who rides with me." In June 1940, Pyle purchased property about 3 miles (4.8 km) from downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, and had a modest, 1,145-square-foot home built on the site. The residence served as the couple's home base in the United States for the remainder of their lives.
Ernie and Jerry Pyle had a tempestuous relationship. He often complained of being ill, was a "heavy abuser of alcohol at times," and suffered from bouts of depression, later made worse from the stress of his work as a war correspondent during World War II. His wife suffered from alcoholism and periods of mental illness (depression or bipolar disorder). She also made several suicide attempts. Although the couple divorced on April 14, 1942, they remarried by proxy in March 1943, while Pyle was covering the war in North Africa. They had no children. Newspapers reported that Jerry Pyle "took the news [of her husband's death] bravely", but her health declined rapidly in the months following his death on April 18, 1945, while he was covering operations of American troops on Ie Shima. Jerry Pyle died from complications of influenza at Albuquerque, New Mexico, on November 23, 1945.
At the time of his death in 1945, Pyle was among the best-known American war correspondents. His syndicated column was published in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers nationwide. President Harry Truman said of Pyle, "No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told. He deserves the gratitude of all his countrymen."
On more than one occasion, Pyle was noted for having premonitions of his own death. Before landing he wrote letters to his friend Paige Cavanaugh, as well as playwright Robert E. Sherwood, predicting that he might not survive the war.
On April 17, 1945, Pyle came ashore with the U.S. Army's 305th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division, on Ie Shima (now known as Iejima), a small island northwest of Okinawa that Allied forces had captured but had not yet cleared of enemy soldiers. The following day, after local enemy opposition had supposedly been neutralized, Pyle was traveling by jeep with Lieutenant Colonel Joseph B. Coolidge, the commanding officer of the 305th and three additional officers toward Coolidge's new command post when the vehicle came under fire from a Japanese machine gun. The men immediately took cover in a nearby ditch. "A little later Pyle and I raised up to look around," Coolidge reported. "Another burst hit the road over our heads ... I looked at Ernie and saw he had been hit." A machine-gun bullet had entered Pyle's left temple just under his helmet, killing him instantly.
Pyle was buried wearing his helmet, among other battle casualties on Ie Shima, between an infantry private and a combat engineer. In tribute to their friend, the men of the 77th Infantry Division erected a monument that still stands at the site of his death. Its inscription reads: "At this spot the 77th Infantry Division lost a buddy, Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945." Echoing the sentiment of the men serving in the Pacific theater, General Eisenhower said: "The GIs in Europe––and that means all of us––have lost one of our best and most understanding friends."
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who frequently quoted Pyle's war dispatches in her newspaper column, "My Day," paid tribute to him in her column the day after his death: "I shall never forget how much I enjoyed meeting him here in the White House last year," she wrote, "and how much I admired this frail and modest man who could endure hardships because he loved his job and our men." President Harry S. Truman, who had been in office for less than a week following the death of Franklin Roosevelt on April 12, also paid tribute to Pyle: "No man in this war has so well told the story of the American fighting man as American fighting men wanted it told. He deserves the gratitude of all his countrymen."
After the war, Pyle's remains were moved to a U.S. military cemetery on Okinawa. In 1949, his remains were some of the first to be interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.
Ernie Pyle Commemorative Stamp
issued May 7, 1971
By Ernie Pyle
Published in 1944, a year before
Ernie Pyle's death.
Special thanks to
Carolyn and Charlie La Nasa
for the gift of the stamp and book
William Clyde Pyle, Earnest (Ernie) Taylor Pyle, Marie Taylor - Pyle
Ernie Pyle's home in Dana, Indiana
Ernie Pyle's World War I Draft Card
Ernie Pyle's World War II Draft Card
Updated: April 2, 2021