Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum
Ernie Pyle WWII Museum
Five Points Fire Museum
Firefighters Museum Freeman
Army Airfield Museum
Hoosier Air Museum
Indianapolis Fire Museum McClain
Museum of the Soldier
Military History Center/Automotive and Carriage Museum National
Model Aviation Museum
Rolls-Royce Heritage Center, Allison Branch
Ropkey Armor Museum
Indiana Museums -
Aviation, Military, Automotive and Fire
Ernie Pyle WW II Museum
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
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
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.