Ernie Pyle's Newark Connection: A Widow's Recollection

by Nat Bodian


Ernie Pyle was America's most-famous war correspondent. He died on the tiny island of Ie Shima, off the coast of Okinawa, in the Pacific. He was three and one-half weeks short of his 45th birthday.

About Pyle's Stature

As Owen Johnson reported in the Bloomington Indiana Times in 2005, "No journalist since then has been dreamed of matching the accomplishments of this 5-7, 110 pound native of Dana, Ind. Part of the reason was Pyle's talent. Part of the reason is that journalism has changed since Pyle's day. And part of the reason is the myth that has grown up around Pyle.

Pyle's Newark Connection

Pyle's Newark Connection was revealed to me earlier this year in correspondence with a friend in Florida, who is the widow of Burton Goldstein Armm, a cousin whom she married in 1946, shortly after his discharge from the war.

They were married at the Oheb Shalom Temple on High Street and made their home in Newark. Their marriage ended with his death in 2002.

Armm served in the Navy as a Motor Machinist's Mate, Second Class. He seldom talked about his war service, but it came out in conversations with his wife, Adele, that he had been friendly with Ernie Pyle and that they were together at the time of his death.

She recounted to me the details of Pyle's death as they had been told to her over time by her husband. He had told her he had spent most of his time in foxholes fighting the enemy. She recalled for me "It was strange that he served in both Army and Navy positions."

Following is the story her husband told her about the time of Pyle's death:

"He was riding in a Jeep with Ernie Pyle and they were fired at by snipers. They left the Jeep and huddled in a foxhole.

"Ernie Pyle raised his head and said 'What a hell of a war this is' and was shot in the head and killed.

"I have no proof of this incident, except that this is what I was told. I have Burt's discharge with a list of the APO numbers, but nothing tells me where the location was, and which was the APO where he first met Pyle."

AP Report at Time of Pyle's Death

An Associated Press report of April 18, 19451 had this to say of Pyle's death:

"Ernie Pyle's body lay alone for a long time in the ditch at the side of the road ... A machine-gunner, still hidden in the coral ridge, sprayed the area whenever anyone moved. Finally, after four hours, a combat photographer, pushing his heavy Speed Graphic camera in front of him, reached the body and snapped the shutter .. a face at rest (with) a thin stream of blood running down the left cheek."

Pyle's Burial Sites

Pyle, in death, was buried first on Ie Shima Island, but in 1949, his remains were removed to Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu.

A 1997 report by Allan Andrews, Editor of the Pacific Stars and STripes in Tokyo, Japan, added more fact to Pyle's Death ... written after a visit to Pyle's final resting place in Honolulu2 in April 1997:

"We drove through the Punchbowl to visit the war memorial cemetery on the hill. We had parked directly in front of the grave of Ernie Pyle.

"The famous reporter's grave was flanked by the headstones of two unknown soldiers3. According to our guide, being buried between two unknown soldiers had been Pyle's request.

"Pyle died on April 18, 1945. A sniper's bullet killed him on the Island Ie Shima, just off the coast of Okinawa, where island-hopping America forces were making a push toward mainland Japan."



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