Last week's Ernie Pyle column brought a letter from Jack Ely which in turn sent me to my file of 1996 columns. There I found the first column I had written about Pyle and I questioned the name of the island where he met his fate. The tribute Time magazine wrote about his death said it was Ie Jima but I found other articles calling it Ie Shima. Mr. Ely called me after that 1996 column and assured me Ie Shima was correct.

Ten years later I made the same mistake and again Mr. Ely caught it. I called him to apologize and assure him I made the correction on all the research pieces I have used to be sure never again will I make that mistake.

It is easy to understand why Ely is interested in the subject. He arrived on Ie Shima shortly after Pyle's death. He was serving with the 805th Aviation Engineering Battalion and they had built a runway on Saipan for B-29s before moving to Ie Shima to build an airfield.

He explained that in August 1945, he had been an eyewitness to history when Ie Shima was chosen as the place for the Japanese envoys to come to American lines. From there they were taken to Manila to meet with Gen. Douglas MacArthur to be given the full details of the peace plans. Ely said, "The Japanese plane that brought those envoys was white with a green cross painted on the side." He has a photograph album full of pictures of his WWII days. He was kind enough to send a copy of the picture he took in 1945 of the Ernie Pyle Memorial grave site.

In life Ernie Pyle had wanderlust and that continued after his death when his remains were relocated. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii was opened to the public on July 19, 1949 with a dedication service for five war dead. One was a dead unknown killed at Pearl Harbor, two were Marines, one an Army lieutenant and one civilian, Ernie Pyle.

This cemetery located in Honolulu covers about 116-acres of land at least a hundred thousand years old. Very early the ancient natives called it the "Hill of Sacrifices." Today it is known as the Punchbowl, a very old volcanic cone. Here, over 13,000 WWII veterans are at rest. Later they were joined by veterans of the Korean conflict and Vietnam War. The cemetery is now full. A large monument of Lady Columbia stands there as a symbol of grieving mothers. In 1976, the cemetery was added to the Register of Historic Places.

Thousands of tourists visit this hallowed ground annually. In 1980 I was there with a group of press women. We were transported to the cemetery by bus and because we had very little time we stayed in our seats and watched quietly as we passed row after row of markers as we drove along the main roads.

Suddenly a scream pierced the silence, "Stop the bus!" One of our women saw a marker with her brother's name. Fate was with her that day. She told us later that her family had tried for years to find where her brother was buried and on that day she found the answer. That experience made a lasting impression on everyone in the bus.

Dorothy Copus Brush is a Fairfield Glade resident and Crossville Chronicle staffwriter whose column is published each Wednesday. She may be reached at

Recommended for you