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Newly installed Ernie Pyle sculpture outside Franklin Hall honors Hoosier's legacy

Oct. 10, 2014

IU alumnus and native Hoosier Ernie Pyle is back home again in Indiana.

A bronze likeness of the famed war correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter was installed earlier this week outside Franklin Hall, the future home of the new Media School. It was sculpted by IU professor emeritus Harold "Tuck" Langland, who taught at IU South Bend from 1971 to 2003.

Crowd admires Ernie Pyle sculpture

IU professor emeritus Harold "Tuck" Langland, left, sits across from the new sculpture he created of Ernie Pyle. | Photo By Eric Rudd, IU Communications

Langland also created the sculpture of beloved IU President and Chancellor Herman B Wells that sits in the historic Old Crescent. And though he didn’t sculpt the likeness of "Stardust" composer Hoagy Carmichael that sits outside IU Cinema -- that was created by Michael McAuley -- Langland said he considered both pieces when planning his latest work.

"Herman B is sitting on a park bench, and Hoagy is sitting at his piano bench, so I have Ernie sitting on an ammunition box, working at his table," he said. An additional ammunition box sits across the table from Pyle, inviting passers-by to interact with the sculpture by sitting, reading or typing right alongside him.

Langland said he used historical photographs of Pyle to accurately represent the correspondent's attire, pose and accoutrements.

"He's depicted in his North Africa campaign, with his goggles, which he wore because of the sand and grit, but the big coat he's wearing in those pictures was too much, so here he's wearing a bomber jacket," Langland said. "To create the table, I went to a fancy wood store and told them I wanted the most warped boards they had. They looked at me like I was crazy, but I said, 'I need something that looks like Algerian furniture that's spent two years out in the rain.'"

He even faithfully reproduced the broken carriage-return lever on Pyle's battered Underwood typewriter, and etched the ubiquitous World War II-era graffiti phrase "Kilroy was here" into the tabletop.

But it was Pyle's jacket that campus curator of art Sherry Rouse wanted to see during the installation. She'd visited Langland's workshop earlier this year to see the piece in progress, where she made a tiny mark along a fold on the back of Pyle's jacket.

"I'm not really sure where it is, but I know it's there," Rouse said. "And it makes me feel good to be a part of this."

The sculpture was cast at The Crucible Foundry in Norman, Okla., after which owners Greg and Maria Greenfield drove it to Indiana on a flatbed trailer. (Pyle shared trailer space with an outsized sculpture of the Pittsburg State University gorilla mascot, which the Greenfields dropped off in Kansas on their way to IU, a road trip the couple said garnered plenty of stares from fellow motorists.)

Once the sculpture of Pyle was set into place outside Franklin Hall, Langland's vision became reality. Onlookers and passers-by began posing for photos with the man his work represents, the visible legacy of a Hoosier who changed the face of wartime reporting. 

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