CSS Tabbed Menus Css3Menu.com

April 16, 2004
Oroville Mercury Register April 16, 1945

by Mac R. Johnson
OKINAWA—(U.P.)- Ernie Pyle will be buried among the soldiers he immortalized. The beloved little war correspondent killed by a Japanese machine-gunner yesterday probably will be laid to rest in an army cemetery here in the Ryukyus where he covered his last campaign. The soldiers he loved brought him back from the battlefield. They lifted his pint-sized frame from the ditch where he fell, victim of a sneak Japanese machine-gun ambush. One of his hands still clutched his green fatigue cap. They put him on a litter, and crossed his arms, and then carried him back to the rear. Kept away 5 hours. It wasn’t easy. That Japanese Machine-gunner seemed jealous of his prized victim. It was five hours after Ernie had been killed before anybody could get to his body. Corp. Alexander Roberts, army photographer, tried to get in. He said every time anybody would try to enter the clearing where Ernie had been killed, the gunner would open up. First, three tanks were sent in to remove the body. But the fire was too hot for them. Then planes tried to locate the machine gun nest. Finally Roberts crawled into the clearing on his belly. “Ernie’s face was not twisted in pain or agony,” he said. “He looked pleasant and peaceful.” How it happened. The hidden machine-gunner ambushed a jeep in which Ernie was going to the front with Lt. Col. Joseph B. Coolidge. Both men leaped into a roadside ditch. The dirt along the ditch told how desperately the gunner had tried to kill both of them. “The bullets had chewed out the earth a foot deep trying to get the men in hiding,” Roberts said. Both men peered over the top of the ditch during a lull in the firing. The machine-gun chattered again. Three slugs ripped through Ernie’s green and yellow camouflaged helmet. When Coolidge, who had ducked, turned toward him, Ernie was dead. He had been killed instantly. Ernie saw it coming. Ernie always said he would get it, that he had used up his chances. He said it again just before he landed with the assault troops on Okinawa. He told a public relations officer that he had a premonition about the campaign. But he went on--as he had gone on from Ireland to North Africa, to Sicily, Italy, France, and the Pacific- to get more stories about his beloved G. I. s. He wanted to write about the marines. Ernie was an old dough from the word go. He sweated and suffered with the doughfeet, shared their hopes, fears, and thrills-their lives. Today he shared death with them and it was believed he would be put to rest with them, in a G. I. army cemetery. Ernie would have preferred that.

Stu’s Notes: A Hero Ernie Pyle. Although he probably never heard of Oroville, I bet there are a few old GI’s or Marines in Oroville who have fond memories of him. I myself have known of him since I was a kid. Reading this story really brought it home as to who he was. Your eyes might be dry but they don't want to be. One year ago the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down. One of those involved was a former Oroville boy. Navy Corpsman Justin Rose, I knew his mother, Ellen, his aunts and his grandparents. They owned Rose Brothers Market now Collins and Denny Market at 4th and Plumas. His Aunt Jan Bales has done a lot of research for me on our Veterans Memorial. I hope to get a story from Justin someday. Sgt. Debbie Shaner should be out of Iraq by the time you read this.