[Originally posted on
I found this copy of Ernie Pyle’s Here is Your War in — wait for it — the local Salvation Army thrift shop.
I opened it to find that the endpapers were a montage of still photographs from The Story of GI Joe, the 1945 film made from the book, with Burgess Meredith playing Pyle and Robert Mitchum playing the character based on Captain Waskow, from Pyle’s most famous story.
I paged through and it is wonderfully illustrated by Carol Johnson channeling Bill Mauldin.
It was a foregone conclusion that I was going to buy this book, which I did, for the princely sum of fifty cents, and I took it home and started reading it. At page 107 (Chapter 9. Sherman Had a Word for It), this fell out.
Here’s the other side.
First, “Rambo” is an actual name? I thought Hollywood made it up.
Second, there is a whole story in that little two-and-a-half by four-inch piece of paper. Who was Norman? What was he doing in Nome? Was he stationed there during the war? It had been over for four months, why was he still there? How long had he been there? Did he really only get to Chapter 9? Maybe he finished Chapter 8 and he got his orders to go home and he was in such a rush to pack he left the book behind.
I got nothing for how the book got from Nome to Homer.
Did Norman head straight on down to the Board of Trade the evening of December 18th, 1945? I’d like to think that in accordance with pass rule number 2 (see above) that he did not do anything in public to disgrace himself or the Army.
But I wouldn’t bet on it.
When I eventually do get that iPad, there won’t be anything that interesting falling out from between its pages.
Click here to buy it on Amazon. It’s a damn good read.
I also recommend Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day, which I read as I was visiting the D-Day beaches. A you-are-there book if there ever was one.
And here is a terrific story about Pyle in today’s New York Times.
Bill Mauldin’s cartoon in memory of Ernie Pyle (from https://www.jimkeefe.com/archives/5614).