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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pyle author speaks at meeting

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Clay County Historical Society President Vicki Mace and Indiana historian Ray Boomhower take a break from discussing the life of famous journalist and Indiana native Ernie Pyle Monday night. Melinda Quasius Photo.
When Ray Boomhower speaks about Ernie Pyle, he speaks with a tone of respect and brotherhood.

Both men began their journalism careers at Indiana University, generations apart, and then moved on to small-town Indiana newspapers. But that is where their careers diverged.

Pyle became a famous war correspondent and columnist during World War II, in North Africa, Italy and Japan.

His personal accounts of the every day soldier resonated with the people at home in the United States, so much so that Pyle won a Pulitzer Award for his work.

Boomhower's work since his newspaper days has been as a historian. He is currently the editor of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the Indiana Historical Society's quarterly magazine.

He has also written books about many of the famous historical figures from Indiana, including Pyle, a Dana, Ind. native.

Monday night, Boomhower spoke to a full house at the Clay County Historical Society's monthly meeting.

Boomhower talked about Pyle's life beyond the articles and the awards, similar to how Pyle described the man underneath the uniform in his columns.

Pyle grew up in a small family, a very shy, redheaded boy. He loved to travel and had an intense desire to serve his country, like his best friend from high school.

When at IU, he took as many journalism classes as possible, and eventually convinced his employers at Scripps-Howard to send him overseas to write about the war.

Pyle loved aviation and supposedly was a great cook.

Boomhower used a slide show of photos to emphasize Pyle's story.

The famous writer recently reappeared in the news, as a photo of Pyle immediately after his death, previously unpublished, was found.

Boomhower was surprised by the so-called discovery. He claims the Indiana Historical Society and the Dana Ernie Pyle Museum both had copies of the photo.

"I was a bit perplexed, because I'd known about it for 8 years," Boomhower said. "It's getting a lot of attention, I'm glad because it gets more people interested in Ernie Pyle."

After his presentation, Boomhower answered questions from the audience about Pyle and some of his other books.

He told the crowd his next book will be on Robert Kennedy's campaigning in Indiana. The research for the book took him out to Boston, even though Boomhower admitted he enjoys writing books more than researching.

The Clay County Historical Society meets the first Monday of every month in the lower level of the Clay County Museum, at 7 p.m.

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