It seemed unlikely that a photograph in death of someone as well-known as war correspondent Ernie Pyle could exist for more than six decades without turning up in print -- somewhere.
And as it turns out, it had been printed before.
In early February, the Associated Press released -- and the Los Angeles Times published -- a recently surfaced picture of the famed World War II reporter lying dead in a ditch on a tiny Pacific island. AP reported that the photo had never been published "as far as can be determined" from wartime and postwar archives.
Subsequently, AP learned that the photo -- taken by Army photographer Alexander Roberts shortly after Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gun bullet on April 18, 1945 -- did appear in at least two publications more than a quarter-century ago.
On Dec. 14, 1979, the Daily Times-News of Burlington, N.C., ran the picture with a story about B.F. Coleman Jr., a local resident who, as a Navy chief petty officer in 1945, had acquired a copy from a naval photographer aboard the Panamint, a command ship in the Okinawa campaign.
The picture also appeared in "Buddy Ernie Pyle: World War II's Most Beloved Typewriter Soldier," a 1982 book by Rudy Faircloth, who in 1945 was an Army photographer on military leave from AP. Pyle, 44, was killed while covering the U.S. 77th Infantry Division's attack on Ie Shima, a small island off Okinawa. Roberts and Faircloth were both assigned to that unit as photographers.