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Monday, August 15, 2011

Remembering War Reporter Ernie Pyle and the Downed Chinook Helicopter Victims

Ernie Pyle on July 17, 1944 TIME 
population-we™ supports our troops and also honors journalists who have risked their lives to inform the public about wars past and present. I'm going to take a second to reflect on a time when war wasn't played out on the television, Internet or social media platforms. Given the recent reporting of the downed U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan and the fact that this month is the anniversary of one of the greatest war reporters of all times. If alive this Aug. 3 -- Ernie Pyle -- would've celebrated his 111th birthday.

Ernie Pyle is known to many as the best war reporter ever. Especially to the GI’s Pyle wrote about. Some believe him growing up in a small Indiana town is what gave him his interest in the common person. GI’s thought Pyle gave the most vivid or accurate description of what the war was like to people at home. Starting with World War II reporting, Pyle wrote in simple detailed sentences. The words he used to describe scenery made a definite image in reader’s head. Some cannot explain which he did better: describing the majesty or horror of the war.

He provided an example of a style of romance writing in his account with the infantry in Africa. He said of some sort, “I wish you could see the pictures in my head…” then he went on to describe himself sitting on some blue grass looking at the rolling hills of North Africa as the U.S. infantry marched down the hills. The rest of the article deals clearly with realism. Pyle did not try to comment on the strategies used by the infantry because he didn’t know them. Pyle always wrote about what he actually experienced. This is what furthered him from other war correspondents. Pyle had a real grasp on the GI’s emotions.

He described the infantry who were exhausted like this, “I could not bare to look at them because it brought ache to my heart.” Then to really touch the reader, he said, ‘these may be the same men who we have seen walk down Broadway or Main Street.” That was Pyle’s trait to make it human interest and kind of homey. He also talked about what the GI’s went through when they were not in battle. He told magazine and newspaper readers that they even sunbathed. All in all, this particular Ernie Pyle story dealt with the realism these GI’s faced between life and death in Africa.

AP Chinook Memorial Collage
Just like Pyle, today’s reporters and bloggers have been trying to tell the stories of those lives lost in the recent downed Chinook helicopter tragedy. While en route to a combat mission, 30 Americans and eight Afghans were killed Aug. 6 when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a Taliban insurgent downed their helicopter. To those who may have forgot about Afghanistan the recent deaths have brought the pain of war back into our living rooms. Like Pyle, the faces of those dead military personal are being brought to life once again; however, this time in the arena of the Internet. Here’s an Associated Press article that went viral on the Internet which gave an impressive glimpse into some of the Navy Seals that were killed.

No account has tugged at more heart strings than a 10-year-old boy's plea that the media remember his dad who died in the helicopter crash. Brandon Nichols wrote a note on CNN's iReport on behalf of his dad Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols. With his mom's assistance they both typed: "My father was one of the 30 US Soldiers killed in Afghanistan yesterday with the Seals rescue mission. My father was the pilot of the Chinook. I have seen other pictures of victims from this deadly mission and wish you would include a picture of my father. He is the farthest to the left."

In conclusion, We need journalists who can look at the horror of war and write in a way that we can see the humanity of those who suffer just as Pyle did and an innocent 10-year-old boy did in 52 words.
- population-we blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
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1 comment:

  1. Becky, thank you for your fine tribute to Ernie Pyle and also those who recently lost their lives to terrorists in the war in the Middle East. While it is easy to want to block out the hard facts about war, it is so important to pay our respects.--Barb