Annual service for fallen WWII war reporter Pyle slated for Sunday
April 13, 2005
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A memorial service for Ernie Pyle, the Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent killed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, will be held at noon Sunday on Ie Shima.
The annual event, sponsored by American Legion Post 28, usually is held on the Sunday closest to April 18, the day a Japanese sniper killed Pyle, then 44. Pyle was killed after a machine gun sprayed his jeep as he raced toward what passed for the front during the ferocious fight for the island’s airstrip.
When he stood behind the crippled jeep to see if a friend was OK, a sniper shot him in the head.
This year’s event marks the battle’s 60th anniversary, World War II’s final major battle in the Pacific.
Each year Americans and Japanese gather at the monument, owned by the American Legion and tended by the small detachment of Marines based on the island, to pay their respects to the reporter best remembered for bringing the war home to the American reading public in personal terms. Pyle was a columnist for the Scripps-Howard Newspaper Alliance; his reports from the front were read by millions of Americans hungry for news of the war.
Pyle’s Okinawa dispatches were filed during the only trip he made to the Pacific theater of operations during the war.
The memorial stands on the spot where he was killed. The men of the Army unit he was covering when he died erected a monument, which says, simply: “On this spot the 77th infantry Division lost a buddy. Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945.”
The ceremony will feature brief comments from Ie Shima Mayor Seitoku Shimabukuro; Marine Col. Adrienne K. Fraser Darling, commander of Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler and commander of Camps Foster and Lester; and representatives of the American Legion and local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.
To get to Ie Shima, take Highway 58 north to Nago to Highway 449, turn left and follow signs to Motobu Port. Park at the terminal and purchase a ticket for the ferry, which leaves for nearby Ie Shima at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The round-trip fare is 1,110 yen (about $10.50) for adults and 560 yen (about $5.35) for children. The trip takes about 30 minutes.