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The famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle grew up in Indiana but moved with his wife to New Mexico in the 1940s, just before World War II started. They made their home in Albuquerque and even though Pyle traveled to provide first-hand accounts of the war, he would make trips to New Mexico.
Eventually, Pyle’s New Mexico home would be transformed into the Ernie Pyle Library, which is how Richard Melzer became introduced to this war correspondent.
Melzer explained he went to graduate school at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and his home was located close to the Ernie Pyle Library. As a result, Melzer said he became interested in who Pyle was.
Melzer will share what he has learned about Pyle during his presentation at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge. The talk, which is free, is part of the Los Alamos Historical Society’s lecture series.
In addition to speaking about Pyle, Melzer has also written a book about him, “Ernie Pyle and the American Southwest.”
Melzer explained Pyle has been placed in the spotlight because his work is unique. While other correspondents spoke to generals or admirals about the big battles, Pyle spoke to the GIs and wrote about their stories.
“It was so important for morale for the soldiers because they felt like they counted,” Melzer said. “(And it was) important to the people back home ee they wanted to know what the conditions were like in Europe.”
Melzer added Pyle’s readers often felt like his articles was like getting a letter from a GI.
Pyle wrote for Scripps-Howard and since Scripps-Howard owned the Albuquerque Tribune at the time, his stories were printed in the paper.
While Pyle was proud that his popularity drew more people to New Mexico, Melzer said, “he was very unpretentious ee he was a very humble reporter and he was a very candid reporter. We could use more of those today.”
Melzer has spoken in Los Alamos three times in the past and is looking forward to his next trip.
“It’s always a pleasure to talk to the historical society and Los Alamos,” he said.
Melzer complimented the Los Alamos Historical Society, saying that is was one of the best in the state.
He added he is eager to see his friends and to speak at Fuller Lodge, which he said is great because it is so full of history.
Melzer is also excited to talk about Pyle “to honor him as a great war hero. We have so many war heroes here in New Mexico and he should be among them.”