August 3, 1900 - April 18, 1945: Age 45
Ernie Pyle was a successful American journalist who gave up a post as Managing Editor of The Washington Daily News to work freelance, on the road. He became a popular roving columnist, writing about unusual places and people.
When the US entered World War II, Pyle began to cover it, writing from Europe, Africa, United States, and the Pacific. On April 18, 1945 he was on an island off Okinawa, riding in a jeep four other men. As they reached a junction a machine gun next about 500 yards away started firing on them. They stopped the jeep and jumped into a ditch. When they raised their heads to look around, Pyle smiled and asked the man next to him, "Are you all right?" The gunner started shooting again and Pyle was hit in the left temple and died.
This photo was taken moments after his death by war photographer Alexander Roberts. "It was so peaceful a death ... that I felt its reproduction would not be in bad taste," he said, "but there probably would be another school of thought on this." In fact Roberts did not release the photo for many years, out of deference to Pyle's widow.