Ernie Pyle


Distinguished Alumni Awards in Journalism (2011)
Honorary Degree (1944)
Doctor of Humane Letters
Special Convocation
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Herman B Wells
Pulitzer Prize (1944)


Ernie Pyle, born near Dana, Indiana, in 1900, was a newspaper columnist during World War II. He attended Indiana University but left before graduating to take a job at the LaPorte Herald, a northern Indiana newspaper. Around this time, Ernie met his wife, Geraldine, and they were married in 1925.

Ernie eventually got a job with the Scripps-Howard newspapers as a columnist. He and his wife traveled the country during the Great Depression and wrote columns describing life in America at that time. When war broke out in Europe, Pyle went to England to cover the Battle of Britain in 1940.

When America entered the war in 1941, Pyle signed on as a war correspondent. He wrote columns about what it was like to be an ordinary soldier and the everyday struggles they encountered. He traveled with American soldiers on the front lines in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. Ernie's columns became so popular that they were published in over 400 daily newspapers nationwide during the war. He received the Pulitzer Prize for his columns in 1944.

In 1945, Ernie was assigned to cover the Pacific Theater of the war. He was killed on April 18, 1945, by Japanese sniper fire on the island of Ie Shima. Soldiers and citizens on the home front mourned the loss of Ernie Pyle because of his ability to put a human face on a dehumanizing war.