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The Hoosier war correspondent, remembered


Ernie Pyle. (Library of Congress image)

On Friday, Aug. 3, Burton Woolery Post 18 of Bloomington, Ind., will take part in a local observance of National Ernie Pyle Day, designated as such by a U.S. Senate resolution proposed by Indiana senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young.

The event and the resolution were developed by the Ernie Pyle Legacy Foundation, founded by his family to preserve the memory of the famed World War II reporter who was killed in Japan during combat in April 1945.

Pyle was a native of Indiana, and actually served three months in the Navy Reserve at the end of World War I. He later attended Indiana University in Bloomington. Post 18 was founded in 1919, but in 1945 Ernie Pyle Post 247 was founded at the university, the first World War II post to be established on an Indiana college campus.

The initiative started last year in Albuquerque, N.M., Pyle’s home for many years. Gerald Maschino, executive director of the Legacy Foundation, says that event had American Legion involvement as well: local Forty-Niners Post 49 “served all the food to the veterans and families” in attendance.

As for the Bloomington event, Post 18 is encouraging member attendance; managing and serving food alongside their Auxiliary unit; and bringing a number of American flags to post around the area, as well as presenting the colors. “They have been very helpful and great to work with,” Maschino says.

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young” co-author Joseph Galloway, and IU Media School Dean James Shanahan will be among the speakers.

For more than 60 years until 2016, IU’s journalism program was based in Ernie Pyle Hall in the heart of campus; today the building houses a career center and recruiting/admissions offices. After the event, sculptor Tuck Langland will talk about the statue of Pyle he created that rests nearby. And the day will conclude with a one-man performance by Ronald May, portraying Pyle.