Army Heritage Center expands WWII memorabilia with Ernie Pyle collection

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CARLISLE, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- The Army Heritage and Education Center in Cumberland County is expanding its collection with wartime memorabilia from writer Ernie Pyle.

As a journalist, Pyle had a unique role during World War II. He was one of the first to report from the battlegrounds, side-by-side with soldiers as they fought in the trenches.

Pyle is credited for chronicling that period in history unlike anyone else had done before.

The Army Heritage Center now has his old notebooks, photo albums and more to share Pyle's own life story, making the center the proud owner of this new collection of WWII artifacts.

Army Heritage and Education Center director Col. Peter Crean said "the focus of the Army Heritage and Education Center is to tell the story of the American soldier, and Ernie Pyle was a correspondent that did just that during World War II."

Pyle had a unique position in the trenches with the troops.

"He's one of the original embedded reporters, he would attach himself to a unit, he would write about the soldiers killed in that unit, and he had a nationwide column," Crean said.

The Army Heritage Center now has a piece of history it can share with the world.

"He tells the story of World War II. World War II was probably the war of the 20th century that truly shaped everything that was to follow," Crean said.

Unfortunately, Pyle's story tragically ended April 18, 1945 as he coveted the Invasion of Okinawa.

"They came under machine gun fire, they jumped into a ditch, and when Ernie had stuck his head up after a moment to see if the firing had stopped, and was sadly shot in the head," Crean said.

Meanwhile, Pyle's stories continue to live on to this day.

Korean War veteran Charles Gausch said "for us Korean War veterans, because we were of age during the Second World War, we heard all about Ernie Pyle, so it's nice to have him remembered."

"Having been in combat myself, I can attest that those same feelings that Ernie Pyle wrote about in the 1944 were the exact same that soldiers today feel," Crean said.

Once researchers go through the collection, they will put some of it on display in the World War II exhibit, the rest will go into archives.

The Army Heritage and Education Center's mission is to educate the American people about the story of the U.S. Army.

People who are curious about the military experience can get a chance to see for themselves during Army Heritage Days.

Visitors can see how soldiers lived, interact with more than 400 re-enactors, as well as experience a first for Heritage Days.

"Over 11 armored vehicles will be out operating here at the army Heritage education center, people can come out, go through our full size exhibits and speak with re-enactors from those time periods, as well as seeing tanks actually moving," Crean said.

Army Heritage Days will take place at the Heritage Center in Carlisle on May 20 and May 21.