Ernie Pyle was born in a small farmhouse in Dana, Indiana in 1900. He took journalism courses at Indiana University because they were supposed to be easy but then got the writing bug, working on the Indiana Daily Student and eventually dropping out of college to work on a paper in LaPorte, Indiana before quickly moving on to the Washington (D. C.) News, the New York Evening World, the New York Evening Post, and the Scripps-Howard papers. He was bored with copyediting job and fled the newsroom as soon as he could to work as a roving reporter covering everything from the kidnapping of the Lindbergh to life in the Yukon.
When the United States entered World War II, he covered the troops and became known for his war reporting, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1944. On April 18, 1945, he was riding in jeep on an Island just west of Okinawa. He leapt from the jeep when it came under fire from a Japanese machine gunner and attempted to hide in a ditch, but a bullet hit him in the temple. He died instantly. His earlier columns about everyday life in the United States were collected posthumously in Home Country (1947). Here’s a paragraph from that book: “To me, the summer wind in the Midwest is one of the most melancholy things in all life. It comes from so far away and blows so gently and yet so relentlessly; it rustles the leaves and the branches of the maple trees in a sort of symphony of sadness, and it doesn’t pass on and leave them still. It just keeps coming, like the infinite flow of Old Man River. You could — and you do — wear out your lifetime on the dusty plains with that wind of futility blowing in your face. And when you are worn out and gone, the wind — still saying nothing, still so gentle and sad and timeless — is still blowing across the prairies, and will blow in the faces of the little men who follow you, forever.” Ned Stuckey-French