Warbirds and Airshows
By David D Jackson

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Indiana Museums - Aviation, Military, Automotive and Fire

The Ernie Pyle WW II Museum
Dana, IN
Date Visited:  6-14-2015

Only those who lived in the United States through World War Two or familiar with WWII history would know Ernie Pyle.  Born in 1900 in Dana IN just east of the Illinois state line, Ernie was the most well-known and beloved of all of the war correspondents covering the war.  He lived with and wrote about the common soldier, and what they did on a daily basis, rather than the generals or the battles themselves.

For many years, the Ernie Pyle Museum in Dana was part of the Indiana State Museum system.  Then several years ago the State withdrew its support (funding) of the Dana museum due to low attendance, took Ernie's typewriter, and went on its way.  That should have been the end of the Museum in Dana.  But no, that was not the case. Many companies and individuals who understood the need and the reason for the Ernie Pyle Museum better than the State Museum bureaucrats, made sufficient contributions to guarantee the existence of this important museum for a long time to come.

In retrospect the action by the Indiana State Museum was a blessing in disguise.  With the private funding and the need to make sure the museum survived into the future without state funds, two surplus Quonset Huts were purchased and filled with new and informative museum displays. 

The museum displays inside of the Quonset Huts are world class, way beyond my expectations.  I was expecting to see a few displays, artifacts, and photos inside Ernie's boyhood home.  Instead I viewed several audiovisual displays in small theaters, read many of his wartime dispatches that were co-located with associated with a state-of-the-art dioramas, and viewed artifacts and photos of Ernie's from the war.


Entering the town of Dana on IN Highway 71 a mile north of US 36, one is greeted by this sign which still calls it a state memorial.  Ernie Pyle School is also south of this location; and a very nice Ernie Pyle rest park is located east of this location on US 36.  Dana is just like hundreds of other small farming communities in Indiana, but is the birthplace of Indiana's most famous news correspondent.

After Ernie Pyle graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Journalism, he had several newspaper jobs from reporter to editor.  He was the first and leading aviation columnist in the United States, beginning in 1928 through 1932.  He left his managing editor position with the Washington Daily News in 1935 and started to drive around the country doing stories about regular people in the Depression Era.  When World War Two stated, he continued the same type reporting, this time of the common soldier in the field, which won him in 1944 the Pulitzer Prize.  The articles ran in 300 newspapers across the United States.


The sign at the museum had the correct name and the organization that keeps it going.  The Museum has limited weekend hours from May to November.


Immediately after one crosses the railroad tracks coming into town, Ernie's boyhood home and the small museum complex are on the left.  Previously the museum was inside the house; but with the acquisition of WWII Quonset Huts, displays are now located inside of them.


Inside the museum, there are several life=size dioramas associated with a particular dispatch Ernie wrote from the front during WWII.  This particular one goes along with "Dugout Coffee" shown below.  An audio of the right highlighted column is played through the handsets in front of the display. 


This article is typical of the dispatches he wrote. The folks back home were eager to read about the mundane happenings of their sons, brothers, boy-friends, and husbands during the war.


Ernie Pyle was awarded a Purple Heart by a special act of Congress.


This is a small segment of a larger dispatch that Ernie wrote from the Normandy Beachhead on June 17, 1944. 



The associated diorama takes up the entire west end of the first Quonset Hut.






Ernie Pyle was killed by enemy machine gun fire on Le Shima Island on April 18, 1945.  On the 70th anniversary of his death and the opening of 2015 season, this large photo was presented to the museum by the soldier who took it, Harry Momi.  This photo, the last one of Ernie before his death, was taken on April 17, 1945 after Mr. Momi requested that Ernie jump up on the tank for the photo. 



Due to the remote location and nature of the subject, the Ernie Pyle Museum is not for everyone.  But for someone interested in a different look at World War Two history, it is well worth the time and travel to visit what may be the most important museum in the state of Indiana.

 

 

 


 
Home  Indiana Museums    Indiana Tanks on Outside Display   The Beginning    Revisions   First Flight of P-38F Glacier Girl  
USS Theodore Roosevelt    WWII Aircraft Manufacturing Sites    Gateguards
 2007 Airshows   2008 Airshows  22009 Airshows   2010 Airshows    2011 Airshows    2012 Airshows   2013 Airshows   2014 Airshows    2015 Airshows  2016 Airshows    2017 Airshows 
Aviation Museums of the Pacific Northwest
   Display Helicopter Locations   CAL FIRE   PV-2 Harpoon Photos     F6F Hellcat Photos
   Warbird Sightings   WWII US Air-Air Victories   Guest Photos    Indiana Warbirds   Featured Photos  Other Items   Links

Historic Sites   Historic Forts   Historic Texas Independence Sites   Pre-Historic Sites   Historic Manhattan Project Sites   GM Heritage Center


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