CSS Tabbed Menus Css3Menu.com

December 10, 2010

Oroville Mercury Register
April 28, 1945
Pyle’s Final Column Tribute To Dead Friend

Editors Note: This is Ernie Pyle’s last column. It is a beautiful tribute to Fred Painton, war correspondent who died of natural causes on Guam a few weeks ago. Ernie was on Okinawa when he was informed of Mr. Painton’s death. Ernie took time out from covering the war to write this touching story about a friend. Only a few days later Ernie was killed.
Okinawa—(By Navy Radio)—This is a column about Fred Painton, the war correspondent who dropped dead on Guam a short time ago. Fred wrote war articles for Reader’s Digest and many other magazines. He even gambled his future once writing a piece for the Saturday Evening Post about me. Fred was one of the little group of real old timers in the European war. He was past 49 and an overseas veteran of the last war. His son is grown and in the army. Fred has seen a great deal of war for a man his age. He was just about to start back to America when he died. He had grown pretty weary of war. He was anxious to get home to have some time with his family. But I’m sure he had no inkling of death, for he told me in Guam of his postwar plans to take his family and start on an ideal and easy life of six months in Europe, six in America. He had reached the point where life was nice. Fred Painton was one of the modest people; I mean real down-deep modest. He had no side whatever, no ax to grind, no coy ambition. He loved to talk and his words bore the authority of sound common sense. He had no intellectualisms. His philosophy was the practical kind. He was too old and experienced and too wise in the ways of human nature to belittle his fellow man for the failures that go with trying hard. Fred didn’t pretend to literary genius, but he did pride himself on a facility for production. He could get a thousand dollars apiece for his articles and he wrote a score of them a year. And his pieces, like himself, were always honest. I’ve known him to decline to do an assignment when he felt the subject prohibited his doing it with complete honesty. Fred’s balding head and crooked nose, his loud and friendly nasal voice, his British army trousers and short leggings were familiar in every campaign in Europe. He took rough life as it came and complained about nothing, except for an occasional bout with the censors. And even there he made no enemies for he was always sincere. There were a lot of people Fred didn’t like, and being no introvert everybody within earshot know whom he didn’t like and why. And I have never known him to dislike anyone who wasn’t a phony. Fred and I have traveled through lots of war together. We did those bitter cold days, early in Tunisia and we were the last stragglers out of Sicily. We both came home for short furloughs after Sicily, The Army provided me with a powerful No. 2 air priority while Fred had only the routine No. 3. We left the airport at Algiers within four hours of each other on the same morning. I promised Fred I would call is wife and tell her he would be home within a week. When I got to New York I called the Painton home at Westport, Conn. Fred answered the phone himself. He beat me home by three days on his measly little priority! He never got over kidding me about that.
(to be continued)

Stu’s notes: Ernie Pyle was a true hero of America, he went above and beyond to get the stories of his “boys”. He went to the front lines with them, slept in their fox holes, from North Africa to the Pacific.

It was the warmest Pearl Harbor Day I remember in a long time. I’ve been going to the Gridley ceremony for 10 years or more, this was as usual a very somber but also a very good day to be among those heroes of long ago, this year I was called on to carry the flag out to the small memorial in the middle of the fairgrounds, quite an honor for me to hand it to the survivor in charge of the flag pole Fred Smith who was a Navy Corpsmen stationed at the Navy hospital on that day. I talked to Art Rodda and he told a story of the many horrors he witnessed in the coming days. Seems there were two men in one burn ward and one who was badly burned said he wanted to die the other man who was burned twice as bad said over and over that he wanted to live. He lived and the other man died. Fred saw this quite a lot and that the will to live must be a person’s attitude as it helps tremendously. Art served on the USS Nevada BB36 then became a Seabee and serve among other places in the Philippines. Next I talked to Vere Gardner who served on the U.S. Salt Lake he was in 38 engagements in the war and earned 9 battle stars. Loyd Scott served on the USS Monahan 354 at Pearl Harbor the Monahan possibly sunk that 5
th midget submarine that many think got into Pearl Harbor. The USS Monahan later went down in the area of the South China Sea with the loss of all but 6 hands. By then Loyd was on the USS Radford 354 both of the above ships were destroyers.

Art Wells, I’ve written before about Art, a marine whose duty post on the USS Pennsylvania was a 5 “gun not set up for Airplanes so he helped on the 5.2 Anti-Aircraft guns. On that day his ship lost 6 marines and 18 Sailors 36 men were wounded including Art. Art went on to fight on several more Islands in the Pacific using Marine Duwks, a very unique landing craft that could maneuver in rough seas. One was used up at the Dam. I think someone in this area has one. The Pennsylvania survived the war and was sunk by us after the Atomic test at Bikini, it was to radioactive to keep.

Bob Wolfersberger, my friend who lives in Oroville now, came to represent a battle just 8 hours after Pearl Harbor, Corregidor, that fight went on for 4 months. I just wrote about Bob’s experience the Brave Battlin’ Busters’ of Bataan. I truly believe by their fighting in unbelievable conditions, it kept the Japanese so occupied up North, that they could not send those forces south to take Australia and maybe the whole South Pacific, who knows.