Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Staff Sergeant Ralph Pyle, who photographed many of the most important missions and moments during the Korean War.
Ralph Reeves Pyle Jr. was born in Ohio in May 1925. Following high school graduation, he was drafted into the Army for World War II. He was sent to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, and Camp Haan, California, for training. He trained as an anti-aircraft gunner and on how to identify aircraft. In 1945, during the last year of World War II, Pyle was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii.
After World War II, Pyle joined the Army reserves and took up photography as a hobby. In 1950, he was sent to Korea for the beginning of the Korean War.
In Korea, Pyle transferred to the 51st Signal Battalion, where he would put his photography skills to use. One of his first assignments on peninsula was to photograph missions operating out of a base near of Pyongyang. However, the unit was quickly forced to retreat to Seoul when China invaded from the north.
Pyle soon started shooting aerial photography on surveillance missions. During this time, he was stationed in Ui Jong Bu, made famous in the TV series “M.A.S.H.” For his work on flight missions, Pyle was awarded the Bronze Star. Throughout his time overseas, he photographed some of the most significant moments and battles of the war, including peace talks between high ranking U.S. military officials and the North Koreans. He returned to the states in November 1951, and was discharged from service.
For the remainder of his post-service career, Pyle lived out his passion for photography. Among his most significant private accomplishments was photographing Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan before either of them became president. He was even inducted into Indiana’s Photography Hall of Fame. Ralph Reeves Pyle Jr. died in December 2012.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic designer: Lilian Vo
Editor: Jennifer A. Ford
Fact Checker: Kat Blanchard