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A great movie to get ready for Memorial Day

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A year ago, I wrote a post about Ernie Pyle.    You can read it here.

Today, I’m watching a great movie:   “The story of G.I. Joe”, a tribute to Mr Pyle.  

This is from a review published in 1945:

Director William A. Wellman’s approach is starkly realistic. The documentary quality of the picture is enhanced by the frequent use of authentic Signal Corps footage of the North African and Italian campaigns, and the sparse, idiomatic dialogue.

The opening scene shows a truckload of Eighteenth Infantry greenhorns, waiting to shove off toward Faid Pass and fondling a newly acquired mascot. “Get that pooch out of here,” barks the lieutenant, “want to get him killed?” And much later, on a bleak, cold, and sodden Christmas night in the shell-pocked valley below Cassino, the captain sums up his men’s aspirations with simple eloquence: “If only we could create something good out of all this energy, all these men.”

Ernie Pyle was an unobtrusive sidelines observer, more interested in the individual doughfoot than the strategic deployment of regimental power, and his Story of G.I. Joe depicts infantry action in the terms of rain-soaked, mud-caked, and desperately tired men. They are of all types. The tough sergeant who carries a carefully wrapped record of his baby’s voice, the Brooklyn lothario who makes romantic capital out of his Italian heritage, the long-legged G.I. who was washed out as an air cadet because of his height and talks about cutting off his legs, and the taciturn captain, who understands his men better than he did his wife.

As the wandering correspondent who brings all the threads into sharp focus, Burgess Meredith plays Ernie Pyle with the same humility and spirit of camaraderie which endeared the correspondent to so many G.I.’s.

The movie is above all a tribute to the soldiers.   

Pyle was killed before the movie was released.


Written by scantojr

May 21, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Ernie Pyle: The man who wrote about the soldiers rather than the war

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(My new American Thinker post)

Before Skype or internet chats, soldiers used to write letters to their parents, sweethearts, or families back home.

Furthermore, families had very little information about their sons at war.  The news reports were about battles and soldier movements.  Often, families would hear about the boys at war when a neighbor would be burying his son.

Enter Ernie Pyle, who was killed 75 years ago yesterday:

Pyle, born in Dana, Indiana, first began writing a column for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain in 1935. Eventually syndicated to some 200 U.S. newspapers, Pyle’s column, which related the lives and hopes of typical citizens, captured America’s affection.

In 1942, after the United States entered World War II, Pyle went overseas as a war correspondent. 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.  Pyle, who always wrote about the experiences of enlisted men rather than the battles they participated in, described the D-Day scene: “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.” The same year, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished correspondence and in 1945 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 his death, President Harry S. Truman spoke of how Pyle “told the story of the American fighting man as the American fighting men wanted it told.”

Pyle is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

About 20 years ago, or on the 50th anniversary of his death, I took the time to read some of his columns.

One of my favorite columns was “Digging and Grousing” from Africa 1943.  It related the story of some GIs talking about a letter:

To get to the point, it was written by a soldier, and it said: “The greatest Christmas present that can be given to us this year is not smoking jackets, ties, pipes or games. If people will only take the money and buy war bonds … they will be helping themselves and helping us to be home next Christmas. Being home next Christmas is something which would be appreciated by all of us boys in service!”

Ernie Pyle had an amazing gift.  He understood that his war reports would be read by soldiers at war, a wounded GI at a hospital, and a mother back home desperate to know what her son was going through.

I hope that our kids in school are learning about men like Ernie Pyle.

P.S. You can hear my show (CantoTalk) or follow me on Twitter.

Written by scantojr

April 19, 2015 at 10:00 am

Posted in US History

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Ernie Pyle: The man who wrote about the soldiers rather than the war

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Written by scantojr

April 19, 2015 at 6:00 am

Posted in US History

Tagged with