MCC alumnus Hal Boyle, a celebrated WWII correspondent

100 Years, 100 Stories

Associated Press writer Hal Boyle (left) with another famous war correspondent, Ernie Pyle, at the Grand Hotel in Paris in September 1944
Associated Press writer Hal Boyle (left) with another famous war correspondent, Ernie Pyle, at the Grand Hotel in Paris in September 1944

When it comes to legendary war correspondents, Ernie Pyle is one name that should come to mind. Hal Boyle is another.

Boyle (1911-1974) was born in Kansas City, the son of Irish immigrants. As a boy he worked in his dad’s butcher shop at 23rd and Vine streets. He attended the Junior College of Kansas City — the institution now known as Metropolitan Community College — and the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he majored in both journalism and English.

He started his long career as an Associated Press journalist in 1928 when, as a teenager, he was hired as a “night office boy” at the AP office in Kansas City.

Boyle's AP columns were printed by hundreds of newspapers.
Boyle’s AP columns were printed by hundreds of newspapers.

He would work for the AP in Columbia while at MU, then St. Louis, back to Kansas City, New York and, starting in 1942, as a war correspondent covering the Allied campaigns in the Mediterranean and Europe. He was prolific, writing regular columns from the battlefield as well as several additional short dispatches each day.

Boyle won journalism’s highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize, in 1945 for distinguished war correspondence the previous year. The newspaperman “told the tale of the American foot soldier,” wrote the authors of the 1999 book “Who’s Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners.”

In 1951, the Veterans of Foreign Wars bestowed upon Boyle its Omar Bradley Award, given for most distinguished contribution to national security, for his coverage of the Korean War.

When he wasn’t covering wars, Boyle wrote a daily column, starting in the 1950s and continuing until his death from a heart attack at age 63 in New York. All told, Boyle is said to have produced more than 7,500 columns, which were printed by hundreds of newspapers.

Boyle bookThe AP published a collection of Boyle’s columns in the 1969 book “Help, Help! Another Day! The World of Hal Boyle.” Fittingly, the cover of the “Jolly Irishman’s” tome was bright green. A 1970 newspaper article promised that Boyle’s book, available by mail for $3 a copy, would take readers “to the battlefield in World War II and Korea, on a visit to his childhood home in Kansas City, to his New York apartment and to talks with the high and mighty and the unknown.”

Boyle “worked in the same period as the columnist Ernie Pyle,” noted the “Who’s Who” authors. “One day on the North African front, Boyle of the Associated Press met Ernie Pyle. Boyle quipped, ‘So you’re Ernie Pyle. Well, shake hands with Boyle, the poor man’s Ernie Pyle.’ ”