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"We flew at tree top level to our target, and made one quick circle of the area taking about 50 pictures with the Aerial camera, then back down to tree top level to return to base." (Untitled memoir, page 3)

   Ralph Reeves Pyle, Jr.
Collection image
Ralph Pyle in Korea [1951]
War: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Army; Army
Unit: 834th Anti-aircraft Artillery (AAA) Battalion, 516th AAA Battery
Service Location: Pacific Theater; Camp Haan, California; Camp Irwin, California; Hawaii; also: Korea
Rank: Staff Sergeant; Staff Sergeant
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A veteran of two wars, Ralph Pyle’s talent for photography was nurtured during World War II. Off-duty weekends would find him snapping celebrities at the Hollywood Canteen. Called back to duty for the Korean War, Pyle was assigned to the Signal Corps as Chief Photographer and soon found himself dodging enemy fire while taking aerial photographs of Chinese positions. He still kept an eye out for VIPs, both in uniform (General Matthew Ridgway) and in celebrity sunglasses (Jack Benny), but also took time to document war’s toll on the children of the Korean peninsula. After taking pictures of the first round of peace talks to end the war, Pyle was released from his duties and allowed to return home to his new bride.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (60 min.)
»Photo Album  (59 photos)
»View List (3 items)
 Official Documents
»View List (2 items)
 Other Materials
»Biography for induction into Indiana Photography Hall of Fame. Pyle was inducted into the Hall of Fame in February 2001.
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
His hobby of building airplane models equipped him to teach enemy plane recognition. (01:19) Developing his photography skills in the Army, snapping the stars on their visits to the Hollywood Canteen. (01:29) During the Korean War, Pyle, now a staff sergeant, chose photography over aircraft recognition, which he thought would have placed him with the infantry. (02:36)
Unable to document the retreat from the Chinese, since he had not been issued a camera. (02:20) As a licensed pilot, he was a perfect choice for aerial photography. (01:50) Received the Bronze Star for his efforts as an aerial combat photographer. (03:15)
In addition to documenting aerial combat and USO tours, he photographed the first round of peace talks; though not credited, Pyle can compare published images to his originals. (01:29) His photography skills came in handy when it came to bartering. (01:14) 
 Memoirs (3 items)
Untitled memoir of Ralph Pyle Memoir, "Combat Photographer RalphPyle" Memoir, "Focus on Ralph Pyle: WWII and Korean Combat Photographer"
 Official Documents (2 items)
Letter and citation for award of the Bronze Star medal General Orders No. 178 [11/3/1951] 

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  October 26, 2011
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