How We Started
In 2008, Gerald Maschino called Owen Johnson, an associate professor at Indiana University and scholar of Ernie Pyle. The two thought it was important for the university to establish a relationship with Pyle's living relatives. Five years later, as the university began receiving more requests to use Ernie's name, an attorney reached out to the family. At the university's suggestion, the family began the process of starting a non-profit foundation. On Aug. 19, 2013, the Ernie Pyle Legacy Foundation was established, with six of Ernie's cousins elected to the board. Our attorney established rights of publicity to give control over any commercial activity, and the family obtained several trademarks as the legal entity for Ernie Pyle.
What We've Done
Held a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of Ernie Pyle's death at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (the Punchbowl) in 2015.
Announced the creation of National Ernie Pyle Day at a ceremony in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Aug. 3, 2017.
Collaborated on a Senate resolution with U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Joe Donnelly to establish National Ernie Pyle Day on Aug. 3 of each year, beginning in 2018.
Created the Ernie Pyle Legacy Award for outstanding journalists, and partnered with media organizations such as the Scripps Howard Foundation, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the Associated Collegiate Press to recognize professional and student journalists who embody the spirit of Ernie's work.
Maintained partnerships with the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum, the Media School of Indiana University and the University of New Mexico.
Board of Directors
Gerald "Jerry " Maschino
Jerry Maschino was born in Michigan and served two years in the Army after high school. After attending college at Michigan State University, he became a buyer for a men's clothing store. After several years, Jerry accepted a sales position with Levi Strauss & Co. After 33 years, he retired as VP of Sales in San Francisco. In his retirement, Jerry collects art items, mainly pottery; enjoys doing volunteer work; and serves on the boards of several nonprofits.
Thomas L. Cowan, MBA *
Maj. Tom Cowan (Ret. USAF) served 21 years as an Air Force Security Forces officer where he commanded and led various units, twice served as the base chief of police, served at multiple locations overseas, and was in charge of all law enforcement policies and programs Air Force-wide as the Law Enforcement Branch Chief at the Pentagon. Since retiring from the military, Tom worked as a defense analyst for projects by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He has also owned and managed several small businesses as a serial entrepreneur, and is currently working toward becoming a financial advisor.
Richard G. Cowan Jr *
Shortly after high school, Rick Cowan married the girl next door, Angie, whom he has known since he was 10 years old. They have two children together, Jaimee and Rick. Around the same time that he was meeting his wife he got his first computer. It was that computer that fueled an interest in the computer industry and spawned a career as a software engineer. Rick has worked in the development of commercial software since the age of 19. Through his work, he has had the opportunity to travel now and then, including several trips to South Africa. His greatest achievement, though, is his family. They are what matters the most to him and what he does everything for.
Lt. Col. Linn D. Benson (Ret. USAF) entered the Air Force in 1962 and served for 22 years as a senior staff officer and as a navigator flying transport aircraft such as the C-135, C-141 and C-5. He served a tour in Vietnam in addition to flying over 250 missions into Vietnam supporting the war effort. After his Air Force career, Linn and his wife Mona and operated a business, U.S. Eagle, Inc., for 22 years working military contracts for trash/garbage service and janitorial/custodial service. Linn has a degree in business administration from the University of New Mexico and a master's degree in management from the University of Southern California. Linn married Mona (Pyle) Wood on Groundhog Day in 1962. They are still happily married and live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Mona Benson *
Mona Benson was born in Carrizozo, New Mexico, and graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She taught as a special education teacher for the Fairfield-Suisun School District and was co-owner of U.S. Eagle, which provided refuse and custodial services for military bases. She now resides in Napa, California, and in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Kevin Benson *
The son of directors Linn and Mona Benson, Kevin was born in Japan and raised in Northern California where he lives with his wife, Katrina, and his two high school-aged boys. He has a bachelor's degree from UC Santa Barbara in aquatic biology and a master of divinity from Fuller Seminary. He is putting both of those degrees to good use working for Kaiser as a manager and developer in their Clinical Analytics department. He is proud to be a first cousin twice removed of Ernie Pyle and greatly appreciates his writings and legacy.
Michael Brainard is an audio producer, writer and actor living in Los Angeles, California. He is the writer/director/producer of the 13-episode audio drama, “The Ernie Pyle Experiment,” from NPR affiliate WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana. “The Ernie Pyle Experiment” was selected as a finalist for the 2021 Audie Awards: Audio Drama Category. Michael was also honored as the recipient of two 2022 Communicator Awards of Excellence for audio and writing for the same project.
Deana Curnutt *
Deana Curnutt was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is married with children (three boys). She has a Bachelor of Accountancy from New Mexico State University and an MBA from Eastern New Mexico University. Deana is the chief financial officer at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. She is the financial director of her church council and a member of the Chaves County School Employees Credit Union advisory committee. Deana’s mother, Linda Ritter, is Ernie Pyle’s cousin once removed.
Shirley Wynne Maschino *
Raised in Fort Smith, Ark. and after high school, attended Mary Hardin Baylor college in Texas. Met Jerry while he was in the service and we later married, remaining in college. Moved to Michigan, attended MSU and worked full time for a while. Raised two sons and started an art career. Began painting with oil and water colors and then some china painting. While living in Chicago, became involved with porcelain sculpture and later became an instructor . Continue to work with porcelain in all forms and now learning to paint in the style of Lladro.
Steve Maschino *
Steve is the son of directors Wynne and Jerry Maschino and resides in the Dallas, Texas, area. He has two daughters in their 20s, and both are school teachers in the Dallas area. He is a 38 year environmental and safety manager, working for large multinational companies in mostly global roles. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in safety and is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager. After 56 years of living in the North, the Dallas weather is fantastic!
Linda Ritter *
Linda Ritter was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and graduated from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. She taught elementary education for the Gadsden Independent School District, owned and operated a feed store in Albuquerque, and was co-owner of a newspaper in central New Mexico and retired from advertising sales.
Originally from Dyer, Indiana, Jamie was part of Indiana University's honors journalism program, the Ernie Pyle Scholars. In the fall of 2017, she, like Ernie, served as editor-in-chief of the Indiana Daily Student, the university's independent student newspaper. She now works as a multiplatform editor at The Washington Post. She and her husband live with their senior rescue beagle, Max, whom they love more than anything.
* - Board Member is a cousin of Ernie Pyle