The western Indiana home in which renowned Hoosier journalist Ernie Pyle was born, and an adjacent museum dedicated to preserving his legacy as a World War II correspondent, have a new owner.
The Friends of Ernie Pyle has taken possession of the property from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Indiana State Museum. In its first order of business as new owner, the organization renamed the site the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum.
The state operated the property in the Vermillion County town of Dana as a state historic site for more than three decades. In a cost-cutting measure, the state closed the site in the fall of 2009.
The Friends of Ernie Pyle, a nonprofit organization, has been operating the site under a special arrangement with the state since late summer of 2010 pending the property transfer.
Cynthia Myers, board member of the Friends of Ernie Pyle, said the organization is happy to finally have full control of the property and plans to maintain the property as a museum. It will be open to the public for limited hours from May through Veterans Day in November, she said. The museum will also be available for group tours year round.
Myers said renaming of the site reflects the Friends of Ernie Pyle’s intent to broaden the scope of the museum and make it a place where visitors can come to learn more about World War II and the generation of American men and women who fought it.
Pyle was on assignment as a war correspondent when he died on April 18, 1945, after being struck by a Japanese machine gunner’s bullet on Ie Shima, a small island near Okinawa in the North Pacific. He was 44 years old.
“Primarily, the museum will always exist to honor and commemorate Dana’s native son, Ernie Pyle,” Myers said. “But we also want to use this special place to honor all WWII veterans and their place in history. We think Ernie would have wanted it that way.”
Myers said the organization is planning a nationwide fundraising campaign to help ensure that the site and its Pyle artifacts and exhibits will remain open and accessible in Dana for years to come. The Friends group also wants to reach out beyond Dana to help educate new generations about Pyle’s legacy and the legacy of all WWII veterans.
The Friends of Ernie Pyle has also launched a website for the Ernie Pyle WWII Museum. It is available online at www.erniepyle.org.
More details about the fundraising campaign and the museum’s future will be announced in coming weeks.
ABOUT THE FRIENDS OF ERNIE PYLE
The Friends of Ernie Pyle Development Fund Inc. is a nonprofit organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service and the State of Indiana as a 501(c)3. It is governed by a 13-member board of directors.