Two of Indiana's most notable heroes of World War II--U.S. Navy ace Alex Vraciu and beloved war correspondent Ernie Pyle--will be the subjects of talks I'll be giving at two libraries in northeastern Indiana in early November. Both programs are free and open to the public.
At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4, I will be at the Warsaw Community Public Library, 310 East Main Street, Warsaw, to talk about Vraciu's career as a fighter pilot in the Pacific during World War II. A graduate of DePauw University, Vraciu learned to fly during his college years through a government program and joined the navy before America was thrust into the war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Possessed with keen eyesight, quick reflexes, excellent shooting instincts, and a knack for finding his opponent's weak spot, Vraciu became skilled in the deadly game of destroying the enemy in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. For a period of four months in 1944, Vraciu stood as the leading ace in the U.S. Navy. He shot down nineteen Japanese planes in the air and destroyed an additional twenty-one on the ground.
At 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 5, I will be at the Peabody Public Library, 1160 East Highway 205, Columbia City, to talk about the life and death of Pyle, who wrote so well about the average GI for those back on the home front during the war. In his columns Pyle offered a foxhole view of the struggle as he reported on the life and death of the average soldier. When in died in 1945, Pyle's popularity and readership was worldwide, with his column appearing in 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers.
For information on the Vraciu talk in Warsaw, call the library at (574) 267-6011. For information on the Pyle talk, call the library at (260) 244-5541.