Joining the Marine Corps

Assignments in Washington DC

Declaration of War

Deployment to the Pacific

Invasion of Tarawa

Landing with Major Crowe

First Night on Tarawa

Battle of Tarawa

Block House Footage

Footage from Tarawa

Winning an Oscar

Preperations for Iwo Jima

Flag Raising on Iwo Jima

Joe Rosenthal and Bill Genaust

Processing Combat Camera Film

Battle of Iwo Jima

Japan Quits!

Occupation Duty

Run In With a Former Japanese Soldier

Silver Service Medallion

Conclusion

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Norman Hatch graduated from high school when he was 17 years old. He grew up in both Boston, Massachusetts and Gloucester, Massachusetts. Gloucester is a seagoing town and Hatch grew up around boats and ships, which helped him acquire a wealth of knowledge about sea vessels. Hatch's father had been in the automobile business since its earliest days, but was out of work when Hatch graduated. Hatch sat down with his father after he graduated in order to discuss what he would do with his life after high school. Hatch's father suggested that he join the US Navy, since life aboard a capital ship offered Hatch an opportunity to acquire skills in a particular trade that could help him find work after his time in the service. Hatch agreed and he went to Boston, which was the chief recruiting hub for all of New England at the time, in order to join the navy. He passed all of the US Navy’s physical examinations and even received a home visit from a navy chief petty officer so that the navy might determine what kind of family and background Hatch came from. After the recruitment process was complete, however, the navy informed Hatch that it would be at least a month before he would be inducted. He waited a month and still had not been inducted, so he called the navy office and was delayed again. Hatch and his friend then bought a dump truck and worked in it all through the next year, but every 30 days, he called the navy recruiting office to inquire about his being inducted. Finally, in June of the following year, Hatch went back to the Boston recruiting office and learned the true reason for his being delayed. It was the Great Depression. Under the economic distress of the Great Depression, many Americans joined the US Army and US Navy as it guaranteed them a place to live, food, and a paycheck, thus many of the service members who had joined in the early days of the depression, remained in the service. This largely barred new recruits from the peacetime military. He walked out of the navy office and walked by the US Marine Corps recruiting office. On a whim, Hatch walked into the US Marine Corps recruiting office and was informed that he could leave for basic training as a marine within the next two weeks. Hatch joined the US Marine Corps and on 7 July 1939 he became a marine forever. He was sent to the marine recruiting depot at Parris Island in South Carolina for boot camp. Hatch's high school in Gloucester, Massachusetts was a preparatory school for army officer candidate training, and had compulsory drilling as part of the US Army corps for young people. After he had drilled for three years in high school and learned military tactics there, marine boot camp was somewhat routine for him. The DI [Annotator's Note: drill instructor] recognized this and made Hatch the squad leader of the first squad in his platoon, Platoon 22. Hatch had twice gone out aboard a US Coast Guard ship on ice patrol during his Christmas break from school. The skipper of the coast guard vessel was the father of one of Hatch's high school classmates, so they convinced him to sneak them aboard for a patrol. His experiences aboard the coast guard ship revealed to hatch how confined life aboard ship was, which made him retrospectively glad that he was never inducted into the navy. In the US Marine Corps, information was often dispensed via bulletin board, thus marines were instructed to constantly check their bulletin boards for information on their commands and orders. Hatch passed his boot camp marksmanship test as a sharpshooter, not an expert, so he was given a set of jobs commensurate with his marksmanship capabilities. His jobs included keeping the water bottles for the base office staff filled, and making a fire in the head every morning to heat water for the men to shower and shave. This second job required Hatch to wake up at around 0300 hours in order to make the appropriate preparations for the fire. Hatch, however, had seen his father construct a special contraption for preparing the furnace for a fire in his grandmother's house as a kid, so he constructed a similar contraption on base which used an alarm clock and a few weights and pulleys to automatically prepare the furnace at a certain time every morning. This allowed Hatch to sleep in later before he had to rise and actually light the fire, which drew some angst from his superiors. Hatch followed his instructions to always check bulletin boards and one day came across a posting for a position as an English instructor at the Marine Corps Institute in Washington D.C. Hatch figured he was pretty good at English, so he applied for the position. Just two days before he was to be sent to sea school in Virginia, Hatch's sergeant angrily informed him that he had orders to report to Washington D.C. for service at the Marine Corps Institute.

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Norman Hatch, along with a group of other servicemen, boarded a train for Washington D.C. on a Sunday morning. Most of the men departed the train at Quantico, Virginia, but Hatch rode the train all the way into Washington DC. He departed the train with his sea bag over one shoulder, his rifle slung over the other, and walked down to the intersection of 8th Street and I Street, where he was stationed. Hatch taught English for the next six months at the Marine Corps Institute, but grew tired of it. Hatch lived with a man who worked for who had grown tired of his post there as well. The two spoke with the editor of the magazine and Hatch offered to work for the magazine in his companion's place. Since Hatch came from an English position at the Marine Corps Institute, the editor agreed. Hatch worked for the magazine for the next six months and really enjoyed it. Another man Hatch lived with worked at the US Navy Department in Washington DC, but did not like his position there. Hatch figured that a job at the Navy Department got him closer to US Marine Corps headquarters, and that the closer to headquarters he was, the better the available jobs would be. In a premeditated move, Hatch swapped jobs with his roommate and went to work in the Office of Public Affairs for the US Navy. He found himself working amongst navy brass and delivered press releases to the offices of numerous admirals. He also got to know the commandant of the US Navy. During his time in Washington DC, President Roosevelt ordered that all military personnel in the offices of the government only wear their uniforms to work once a week as he did not want his anti war opponents in the US House of Representatives to know exactly how many servicemen and reserve officers were working in Washington DC. One day, Hatch was in the bathroom of the Navy Department when the commandant strolled in and asked him if he liked his job. Hatch liked his job with the US Department of the Navy very much since he was able to frequent the press club and rub elbows with all the major reporters. Soon Hatch began to see bulletins on the boards around his office which advertised a new school in New York City for , a leading newsreel that ran once a month and informed people about global affairs. Hatch appreciated the program since it informed an otherwise uninformed, agrarian American public about the happenings in the world. The producer of , Louis de Rochemont, had acquired a wealth of army and navy footage, but found no use for it since it was very gritty and dry. De Rochemont contacted a friend of his in the navy with whom he had served in the First World War and specifically requested that four navy and two marine photographers be sent to the School of Pictorial Journalism under so that de Rochemont himself may teach them to tell stories through photography. Hatch was on his third application to the school when he worked for the Office of Public Affairs for the US Navy. Hatch heard of a new naval reserve officer who had been hired to direct news reels at the Officer of Public Affairs who had previously been a director at . Hatch approached him and told him about his numerous rejected applications, upon his third rejection, he went back to the new naval reserve officer, Lieutenant Brown, and asked for help. Lieutenant Brown sent Hatch to personally deliver some new naval film to Louis de Rochemont. When he delivered the film, Hatch spoke to de Rochemont briefly and two days later, Hatch's commanding officer came to him and shipped him off to New York to participate in photography school, which was set to begin on 1 October 1941. Hatch had some experience in high school with cameras, but none with shooting movies. He spent six months at the school and then two additional months training new marines before he returned to Quantico, Virginia to record training videos for the US Marine Corps. Finally, Hatch was shipped off to join the 2nd Marine Division as it was forming.

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Norman Hatch was asleep at his place in New York on the morning of 7 December 1941. He had preset his radio to turn on at a certain time each morning, and when that time came on the morning of 7 December, Hatch drearily awoke to the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Initially, he thought the reports were part of a radio broadcast of and he dozed back to sleep. He was wrested from his sleep by a blaring announcement that directed all servicemen to report to their offices immediately. Hatch's office was located at the nearby navy yard, so Hatch called up the sergeant major in charge there and asked if he needed to report in, but the sergeant major instructed him to stay home since the navy yard was packed with concerned reservists. Later that Sunday, Louis de Rochemont called Hatch and asked him to help load a train car with camera gear and head to Washington D.C. to help cover the president's impending speech and declaration of war. Hatch took the train that afternoon and stayed Sunday night in Washington D.C. He picked up the camera the next morning and drove with his crew to the capitol building and helped set up the camera in the press gallery. Hatch then took a handheld camera around the gallery to capture cut away shots for the project. When President Roosevelt arrived, Hatch went down to the entrance to capture the moment, but waited until the president had made it to his feet and locked his leg braces before he took any photos. As the president made his way by Hatch, he saluted him since Hatch was wearing his marine uniform, but Hatch had met President Roosevelt before in Georgia at one of the president's favorite retreats when Hatch was on freshman guard duty. Hatch met Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt in another incident while he rode horseback around the retreat in Georgia in a near collision with Mrs. Roosevelt. Later in the war, Hatch was stationed in New Zealand when Mrs. Roosevelt came for a visit. Hatch was placed on her detail to film her visit and, at the end of her time on base, she singled out Hatch and asked him if he still like to ride horses. She had remembered the incident some two and a half years later. Hatch was in the capitol when the president declared war. The atmosphere inside the room was very tense and serious as everyone in it understood the weight of the moment and the impact that war would have on each and every individual's life. During the president's speech, Hatch was allowed to exit and reenter the balcony press area since he was in uniform, so he retrieved film not only for his own crew's cameras, but also for the cameras of every other major news agency that covered the event.

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Norman Hatch finished his photography training in New York City sometime in April of 1942 then returned to Quantico, Virginia. In Quantico, Hatch met the famous actor Louis Hayward who had joined the US Marine Corps. Hatch and Hayward worked on numerous Marine training films together before Hatch was ordered to join the 2nd Marine Division. He was not among the elements of the 2nd Marine Division sent to Guadalcanal, but, by that time, he was the senior NCO [Annotator's Note: noncommissioned officer] of his camera crew, so he chose a few of his marine photographers and sent them to Guadalcanal. The battle on Guadalcanal provided some of Hatch's cameramen hands on training as he had his recruits for only 11 months to train them in motion picture camerawork before deployment. Before Hatch departed from the West Coast for the Pacific Theater, he realized that the three cameras that he was equipped with would not be sufficient, especially since there would be no way to service or repair them in the Pacific. He convinced his quartermaster that he needed to go to Hollywood in order to purchase all the cameras and film that he could find. Hatch took his friend, and former employee, Johnny Ercole and bought some 14 small Bell &Howell Filmo cameras and all the color film they could find. They took all the equipment with them to New Zealand where they used locally bought black and white film to train and practice. The introduction of these smaller cameras and their color film to the marines marked the beginning of color combat footage. The small cameras that Hatch and his men used were perfect for combat situations since bigger, more traditional cameras were too heavy and unwieldy for combat.

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When the 2nd Marine Division shipped out from New Zealand, the men were vaguely told that they were going to make a landing, but only the battalion commanders knew the specifics. Norman Hatch, however, found out which battalions were selected to make the first assault on the Pacific island atoll of Tarawa, so he stationed his cameramen evenly throughout the battalions selected for the first landings. Hatch sent his cameramen to their new battalions even before the 2nd Marine Division boarded ship in New Zealand, so that each cameraman could train with his new unit and become familiar with the men and commanding officer. Hatch instructed his men to shoot the same kinds of footage so that it could be compiled into a single story later. Hatch chose to land with the battalion commander he thought would be in the most intense fighting on Tarawa. He chose the famous sharpshooter and respected marine, Major Jim Crowe [Annotator's Note: Major Henry Pierson Crowe, commanding officer, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment]. Hatch got an appointment with the major and asked if he could accompany Crowe's battalion ashore. At first, Crowe was hesitant, but after Hatch explained his numerous years of service before the war, and his complete combat training, Crowe consented, on the condition that Hatch stay out of his way. Hatch made sure that all of his cameramen made it aboard the correct boats with the right battalions, and then went aboard Crowe's ship, where he settled in for the journey. He then figured out which landing craft Crowe was to take into shore, and, on the morning of the invasion of Tarawa, Hatch climbed down into the same craft and sat right beside Major Crowe on an engine hatch. As a battalion commander, Crowe did not go in with 2nd Battalion's first wave, but his assistant battalion commander did. Hatch and Crowe's LCVP [Annotator's Note: Landing Craft Vehicle, Personnel] landed with the third wave, and as it approached the beach, Crow saw a large amount of landing craft from the first three waves piled up along a pier that jutted out into the water. Unbeknownst to Crowe, a hidden Japanese machine gun had been riddling the landing craft of the earlier waves with bullets, but Crowe concluded that he was losing his beachhead. He immediately ordered to the LCVP's coxswain to hit the beach, so the coxswain gunned the engine and propelled the boat right up onto the reef and tried to release the ramp. The ramp was stuck, however, and did not lower, so Hatch waited for all of the marines to get up over the sides of the landing craft before he grabbed his assistant, PFC Keleher [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling], and pushed him over the side of the boat. PFC Keleher carried one camera strapped around his wrist and two canisters of film slung over his shoulders as Hatch had another two over his shoulders. The two men waded ashore amid heavy enemy fire as the marines around them dog paddled through the surf in order to avoid the hailstorm of bullets. A Lieutenant Colonel had landed as an observer in Hatch' landing craft and covered Hatch and his assistant from sniper fire from the pier on their approach to the beach. Hatch heard the bodies of numerous enemy snipers hit the water after the lieutenant colonel shot them off the pier. Although it was not an easy trudge toward the beach, the weight of Hatch's camera equipment kept his feet firmly planted in the surf, which allowed him to carry his camera safely to shore and his assistant kept his camera safe as well. After the Allied disaster at the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I, many thought that amphibious landings against a fortified beachhead were impossible. However, due to the daring tactical advances of a marine lieutenant colonel in the early 1940s, the marines swarmed ashore at Tarawa and took the heavily fortified island in three days. Interestingly, on Tarawa it was discovered that a US Naval bombardment, under the direction of an American aviator, had killed the commanding officer of the Japanese forces on the island, and his complete staff, as he walked across an airstrip toward his defensive command post. The Japanese lost their commanding officer, but he American marines on the beaches had no knowledge of this. In those three days, over 1000 marines were killed, with many more wounded, and some 4500 Japanese defenders were killed. In Hatch's view, the staggering number of losses on both sides makes the Second World War incomparable to most battles after the war.

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After Norman Hatch landed with Major Jim Crowe [Annotator's Note: Major Henry Pierson Crowe commanded 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment] on the beach at Tarawa, the bulk of the American forces began to land. Waves of reinforcements were sent to strengthen the American beachhead, but as the landing craft hit the reef to unload Japanese shells scored direct hits on them. Men and boats were blown apart until Major Crowe radioed back to the American fleet and halted the reinforcements. As the day wore on, each of the three battalion commanders in charge of their respective beachheads began to worry about a Japanese counter attack that night. Command considered sending in reinforcement troops under cover of darkness as to avoid the devastating artillery fire, but Major Crowe called off the idea since he feared the Americans on the beach might mistake their reinforcements for the enemy. During the night, a few stealthy Japanese soldiers crept onto the beach and silently stabbed wounded marines, which prompted the remaining Americans to keep their own knives with them as they slept. Major Crowe explicitly ordered that any Japanese soldiers found behind American lines were to be stabbed, not shot as to avoid confusion caused by sporadic gunfire. To the Americans' surprise, the Japanese did not conduct any banzai charges that night, despite the fact that had the Japanese attacked in strength, they might have easily thrown the Americans off the beach. In Hatch's view, the absence of the Japanese commanding officer on the island, who was killed by a naval barrage earlier in the day, largely accounted for the lack of a coordinated Japanese counterattack. The next morning, American landing craft began to unload reinforcements since the Japanese eight inch guns had been silenced. Given all of the administrative confusion regarding landing craft and supplies, Hatch considered it a surprise that the invasion of Tarawa went off as well as it did. Since the marine combat camera men carried so much camera gear, they could not carry rifles. Instead, marine cameramen were armed and trained with pistols.

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The battle on Tarawa provided countless opportunities for combat cameramen like Norman Hatch to capture story telling moments on film. Hatch moved around and captured the combat on film, and even moved up to the front lines where he convinced the other marines that he had to film the fighting so it could be used to win the support of the public back home. Hatch always sat in on Major Crowe's morning staff meetings [Annotator's Note: Major Henry Pierson Crowe commanded 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment] to learn where the best action would be that day and where to position himself in order to capture the battle. On the third day ashore, Crowe informed Hatch that the marines were assigned to capture a large blockhouse and asked if he wanted to record the ordeal. Hatch agreed. He half crawled and walked up to Crowe's command post and witnessed a strategy session between numerous officers who crafted the plan of attack. Once the officers returned to their posts, Crowe stood up in the still morning and ordered his men to follow. Hatch followed him out of his foxhole, camera at the ready, and ran behind Crowe up a sandy slope and had to use his camera free hand in order to make it up. The pair reached the crest of the hill just ahead of the blockhouse and were greeted by the stares of five or six bewildered Japanese soldiers, obviously confused by the two Americans. In a matter of seconds, Crowe revealed that he had no working weapons with him. Hatch could not reach his pistol either so the two figured that they best retreat before the Japanese could capture them. Hatch whirled around to find that not a single marine had followed their charge up the hill. The pair scrambled back down the hill and Crowe reorganized with his officers after he gave them stern verbal reprimand for the failure of his first assault. As Hatch recorded the meeting, a marine machine gunner assigned to cover the rear of the block house opened up on a large group of Japanese soldiers who attempted to escape the position. The Japanese soldiers were about 20 feet away from the machine gun and the ordeal resulted in Hatch capturing some of the only frames in the entire war where an American and his enemy were captured in the same shot. On the first day of the assault on Tarawa, reinforcement troops attempted to land later in the day, but were shredded by devastating artillery fire from Japanese eight inch guns. Aviators from the US Navy had seen the guns before the assault but failed to eliminate them until after they had done considerable damage to the attempted reinforcement landings, which has long been a source of confusion for Hatch. Long after the war, Hatch had a long discussion deep into the night with his friend and former sailor, Eddie Albert, about their experiences on Tarawa. Albert went on to be a successful actor after the war, but the emotion from his experiences on Tarawa never left him. When Albert first reported aboard his ship, the ship's doctor warned him never to have any trouble with the skipper, as the captain hated Jews and thought Albert was Jewish due to his name [Annotator's Note: full name was Eddie Albert Heimberger]. Albert was always careful to fulfill his orders fully as not to cause an issued with the captain. During the battle, Albert was a boat commander and was charged with coordinating the landing craft. Albert then took his landing craft in and discovered the masses of wounded marines strewn throughout the beach area. He sent a message back to the skipper of his boat that he was staying on the beach to collect the wounded and spent all three days of the battle collecting wounded men and conducting the rescue of many more. After the battle, the US Marine Corps wrote Albert up for a medal, but, since he was a sailor, not a marine, Albert's commanding officer had to approve the commendation for the medal to be awarded. The anti Semitic skipper tore up Albert's recommendation and Albert was not recognized for his actions until years later when the efforts of a war museum earned him the Bronze Star for the action. Even long after the war, Albert could not talk about his experience at Tarawa without breaking down in tears.

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Norman Hatch filmed the battle on Tarawa with black and white 35mm film, but most of the rest of his photographers shot in color film. Many of the war films and news reels that used Hatch's footage tinted the black and white film to blend it better with the color footage of other cameramen, which makes it more difficult to discern his footage from the footage of other cameramen. Hatch delves a bit into the modern politics of Korea, Japan, and China and laments the threat of nuclear weapons in that region of the world. Some old war footage from Tarawa captured Hatch working with his own camera, but he wore a clean white shirt in the footage after three days of intense battle. The shirt was a Japanese navy T shirt which he discovered in a small Japanese uniform warehouse dug into the ground. When he discovered the warehouse and saw the T shirts, Hatch doubted if any of them were big enough to fit him. Sure enough, however, he found one big enough to fit his broad, six foot frame and put it on in exchange for his original, dirty, sweaty shirt. Another scene from Tarawa war footage showed a marine giving water to a tiny kitten near a bombed out tank. Hatch was that marine. Hatch and his friend walked by a badly damaged tank when they heard a sound from underneath it. At first, Hatch figured the sound came from a Japanese soldier holed up under the tank who was waiting for the first American to investigate the noise in order to kill him. As the sound increased, however, Hatch decided to have a look. He took his flashlight and peered underneath the tank and was greeted by a small pair of eyes too small to be human. Hatch tried to lure the kitten out, but she stubbornly refused, so he figured that offering the cat something to drink might draw her out. He picked up a discarded Japanese teapot lid and filled it with water from his canteen. As he held the lid out, the cat cautiously approached, smelled the water, and drank. Hatch petted the cat, but before he could pick her up, the kitten darted back underneath the tank. The cat emerged once more for another drink, but she disappeared before Hatch could approach. The kitten made the tank home since it provided safety from the constant gun fire and explosions of battle, and she intended to stay there despite Hatch's wishes to bring her aboard ship with him. Hatch filmed a number of dead Japanese soldiers near and around a blockhouse, including one of his most famous shots, . In that photograph, a dead Japanese soldier had his arms draped over another Japanese corpse, which prompted the photograph's name. Tarawa was covered with Japanese corpses, so many of Hatch's shots included dead enemy soldiers in them. The stench became overwhelming by the end of the battle due to the mass of corpses strewn across the sand. In one brief moment of reprieve from battle, Hatch sat down to check and clean his camera before his next assignment, when he discovered a box full of Japanese beer. The navy had a difficult time supplying water to the marines on Tarawa, so they resorted to cleaning out five gallon gas tanks from jeeps and other vehicles, painting the insides of the jugs, filling them with water, and shipping them ashore. Despite the cleaning, the water from those five gallon jugs still slightly tasted of gasoline, but the marines had no choice but to drink it, since it was the only water supply they had. In light of the poor water situation, Hatch welcomed the beer he found despite his initial fear that the Japanese might have poisoned it. After a safety taste, Hatch and his companion filled their canteens and took only a bottle or two at a time to fill the canteens of other marines on the line. Hatch always kept the remaining bottles of his stash buried so no other marines could find it, but by the end of the battle, all of the beer was gone.

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Norman Hatch departed Tarawa after the battle concluded and went to Hawaii with the 8th Marine Regiment. The US Army command in Hawaii had promised Hatch's commanding general to have a camp built on the big island, Hawaii, for the returning marines. The 8th Marines arrived in Hawaii first, about a full week ahead of the rest of the forces from Tarawa, but when they arrived at the camp it was incomplete. It consisted of floorboards and flat tents, but lacked a kitchen, a galley, and almost all other aspects of a complete camp. The marines blamed failure to complete the camp on widely disliked General Richardson [Annotator's Note: Lieutenant General Robert C. Richardson] who commanded all army forces in Hawaii. The camp was built hastily in order to accommodate the thousands of marines who returned from battle, but after the men settled in, the marines really came to love it. Hatch was called away almost immediately after he got to Hawaii and did not get to enjoy the completed camp. The footage from the marine cameramen was edited by Warner Brothers. The film industry was very helpful to the armed forces during the Second World War since they did any project that the government wanted done for military purposes for free. They made documentaries of battles and then sent them to the major motion picture theatres in the United States. The major film companies alternated services for American military projects during the war. One company would make and edit a documentary and another would distribute it, and then the roles would switch. For both of the battles Hatch was directly involved in, however, Tarawa and Iwo Jima, his footage was handled by Warner Brothers. Marines like Louis Hayward, the photo officer for the 2nd Marine Division, did some of the editing of the war footage from Tarawa, as did his assistant. Hatch was sent from 2nd Marine Division headquarters back to the United States where he participated in the efforts for the Fourth War Loan Drive. He talked to people all over the country in support of the effort. When it ended, he wound up in Hollywood where the editing of the war footage from Tarawa was ongoing and Hatch was able to review the progress for the documentary in production. That documentary won an Academy Award in 1945, but Hatch was unable to attend since he was on Iwo Jima at the time. 20th Century Fox invited a US Marine Corps General to the Academy Awards Ceremony in 1945 and he accepted the award for on behalf of the US Marine Corps. Hatch notes that multiple writers claimed to have won the award, but no individual writer or cameraman won the award, the marines on Tarawa did.

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Norman Hatch received his orders to the 5th Marine Division while he was still in the United States as his participation in the Fourth War Loan Drive finished up. Hatch reported to his detail officer who sent him to Camp Pendleton, California to join the 5th Marine Division, which lacked an experienced combat cameraman. Hatch reported to the division, but his wife decided to come live with him in California for the month or two he was to be stationed there before the 5th Marine Division shipped out. Since he was about to go back to war, Hatch and his wife did not want to live on base, so he went to a realtor, who informed him that there were no living spaces available in the area. Hatch decided to go door to door in marine uniform and asked residents if they had a spare room that he and his wife could lease for a few months, but he had no luck in Laguna Beach. Back in the real estate office, a man walked in who had just purchased a home in the area, so Hatch approached him immediately and offered to rent it, regardless of price. Hatch rented the place, picked up his wife and her friend, and moved in to their new home. Hatch remained in California for only a month, however, before he shipped off. Life was great in California for Hatch, since his wife found a job and he frequented the beach and the town of Laguna Beach during liberty from base. The 5th Marine Division had never seen combat before so Hatch taught the new marine cameramen how to operate in combat. At that time, Hatch was a master sergeant, but he had applied to become a warrant officer. He doubted if he would be accepted since photographers were not seen as overly important to the military. Hatch was joined in the 5th Marine Division by his friend and still photographer, Obie Newcomb, who was with the 2nd Marine Division on Tarawa and had participated in the Fourth War Loan Drive with Hatch. Hatch was happy to have him for the combat experience that he provided to the unit and the experience he shared with the new cameramen. Once the 5th Marine Division arrived in Hawaii, Hatch requested more combat veteran cameramen to join his staff in the division and was sent a group of men that included a 4th Marine Division veteran named Bill Genaust, who had been wounded but wanted to return to combat. Genaust and the other combat veteran cameramen who joined the 5th Marine Division helped train the new cameramen. Bill Genaust worked very hard and never stopped working, which proved very helpful to Hatch's staff as they prepared for Iwo Jima.

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Before the 5th Marine Division landed on Iwo Jima, Norman Hatch assigned all of the men in his camera outfit to various fighting units and assigned each of them to tell one particular story with their cameras. One cameraman was assigned exclusively to an artillery unit for the entire battle, another was assigned to a medical unit, and so on. Hatch also ordered his subordinates to check in at his command post every two or three days to have their cameras checked for dirt and damage by a camera repair man. When the first flag went up over Iwo Jima, the ordeal occurred too far away and with too small a flag for any of the men on the island to tell exactly what had happened. Hatch's superior, an intelligence officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel, came to him and asked him to organize a group of men, take them to the mountain top on Iwo Jima [Annotator's Note: Mount Suribachi], and there they would raise a larger American flag. Hatch questioned the lieutenant colonel on where to find a larger flag and how to get that flag up the mountain since fierce fighting persisted around the base of the mountain. The lieutenant colonel assured Hatch that a sufficiently large flag would be found, but Hatch protested that he did not have enough men to bring a flag up the mountain. Just 15 minutes later, however, Bill Genaust and Bob Campbell entered Hatch's command post and had their cameras checked. Hatch ordered the two men to go to the top of the mountain, but instructed them not to reveal the purpose for their trek up the mountain, since Hatch was uncertain if a second flag would ever be raised there. As luck would have it, Joe Rosenthal [Annotator's Note: photographer for the AP] came ashore on Iwo Jima earlier that morning with Lieutenant General Howlin' Mad Smith [Annotator's Note: Holland Smith, commander of V Amphibious Corps and Task Force 56] and the Secretary of the Navy [Annotator's Note: James V. Forrestal]. Rosenthal ran into Genaust and Campbell as they approached the mountain and Rosenthal and Campbell immediately recognized each other from their time working for the same newspaper. The group had a peaceful ascent up the mountain since the marines had pretty well cleared out the area earlier and when they hit the top, a group of marines had just gotten a pole ready to raise a second flag that they had taken from an LST [Annotator's Note: Landing Ship, Tank] on the beach, but Hatch had no idea that a second flag had been taken up to the summit. Rosenthal, Campbell, and Genaust reached the peak just in time to capture the event. Rosenthal quickly built up a pile of rocks to serve as a platform for his camera and the three photographers got into position to capture the moment. Bob Campbell captured an image of the first flag being lowered at the same time that the second, larger flag was being raised. Rosenthal then captured his iconic, timeless image of the marines raising the second flag. Bill Genaust rolled his camera and captured the entire flag rising in a motion picture. When the Secretary of the Navy landed on Iwo Jima, a rumor began circulating that he wanted to take the first flag to fly over Iwo Jima back to Washington and fly it outside the US Navy Department, but that never happened. The rumor, however, began a scramble by the marines to get the original flag, since they had carried it from Honolulu for the specific purpose of flying it on Iwo Jima, and they feared they would lose it. In an unconfirmed, hearsay conversation, a colonel in command of one of the marine regiments told his battalion commander that the Secretary of the Navy might want the original flag. The story that the second flag was raised over Iwo Jima in order to keep the original flag out of the hands of the Secretary of the Navy persisted for some time. After the war, while Hatch worked for the Secretary of Defense, he did some research into whether or not the Secretary of the Navy ever requested to have the first flag to fly over Iwo Jima, but there are no records that such a request was ever made. Some who were involved in the event believe, even today, that the second flag was raised in order to protect the original flag. In Hatch's view, the second, larger flag was only raised so that all the men fighting on Iwo Jima could see it, so that all the ships around Iwo Jima could see it, and that having an American flag fly over the battle would have a profoundly positive impact on American morale.

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Combat cameraman Norman Hatch was only about a quarter of a mile away from the mountain top [Annotator's Note: Mount Suribachi] upon which the marines famously raised the American flag over Iwo Jima, but, contrary to some popular accounts, he never heard any celebratory cheers or rifle fire when the men hoisted the flag. The battle raged intensely on Iwo Jima even as the flag was raised which prevented most soldiers and marines from celebrating as doing so likely would have given away their positions to an enemy who was still very much in the fight. Long after the war ended, Hatch still confronts controversy regarding the raising of the second flag over Iwo Jima, and some people's beliefs that the iconic photograph of the event was staged or that the flag was raised solely for media purposes. Since the Battle for Iwo Jima included three American divisions, and each division had 30 or so cameramen, shooting both still photos and video, the battle became one of the most well documented of the entire war. The camera crews were assigned to tell different stories from the battle with their movies and photographs, and when they were completed, the stories thoroughly covered almost every aspect of the fight. There was a large photo processing lab set up on Guam, and in order to get film to Guam, all the film for both motion pictures and still photos was picked up by an LCVP [Annotator's Note: Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel] designated to take all military and civilian press work off the island and back to the command ship off Iwo Jima. On the command ship, the press material would be loaded onto a sea plane and flown off to be developed. This process handled all press material from the island except for motion picture film, which was held on the island until D plus eight on Iwo Jima, but included still photograph film, press releases, written reports and the like. On D plus eight, all of the motion picture film from combat cameramen all over the battle area was collected by the photo officer from the 4th Marine Division, Herbert Schlossberg, who took it in for processing and inspection. Hatch collected all the film from the next 10 days of the battle, from D plus eight to D plus 18, and the photo officer from the 3rd Marine Division handled all the footage left over at the end of the battle. The marines had their battle film processed in batches so that a full documentary film of the battle could be completed very near to the end of the fighting, instead of the three months in between the end of a battle and the release of its footage from battles earlier in the war. Once the battle footage from Iwo Jima made it safely to Hollywood, Warner Brothers began the editing process. When Hatch brought out his batch of footage, it was processed in Hawaii. Hatch then took it to Washington DC so that the Joint Chiefs of Staff could review it. After that he took it to Hollywood where he even helped to edit some of the footage. The process involved incredible amounts of travelling for Hatch, but completing the process ensured that the film could be used and shown to the American people.

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[Annotator's Note: Norman Hatch served as a combat cameraman with the 5th Marine Division on Iwo Jima.] On Iwo Jima, American forces suffered more casualties than the Japanese did, which was unusual given that the Americans won the war. The Japanese were very well dug in defensively on Iwo Jima and utilized caves on ridges and hills across the island as defensive strong points. Rather than attempting to clear out the caves, American forces simply dropped shells on caves in order to collapse their entrances and seal up Japanese defenders inside the caves. After the war, Hatch met with Japanese forces responsible for recovering the bodies of Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima. Hatch told the Japanese grave services that many Japanese soldiers were buried on Iwo Jima, especially under the main American airfield that was built after the battle to accommodate larger aircraft. There were not a lot of natural features on Iwo Jima that supported soldiers in combat. There were no trees or other natural features common in the Pacific war. There was also very little natural fresh water on the island, but the Seabees [Annotator's Note: sailors assigned to US Navy construction battalions] dug a deep well near Hatch's command post which supplied him with hot water on the island. Since Hatch ran a camera organization during the large battle on Iwo Jima, he rarely got away from his command post to see the actual battle. Hatch learned early on in the war that Japanese beach defenders on most islands did not attempt to stop an invasion at the landing, but rather waited for the first wave to get on the beach and move inland before opening up on them and subsequent waves of American forces. Therefore, Hatch always made sure he landed with the first wave so he could get safely ashore before setting up his camera equipment. On Iwo Jima, Hatch landed with the first wave and took photographs of Americans strolling up the beach and inland into the island like it was a peaceful Sunday afternoon. Hatch went ashore with his friend Obie Newcomb and the two watched each other's backs as they made it up the beach, but they never faced any real danger in landing. In their staff meetings before the landing, the men were told to expect nearly two full days of fighting in order to advance to where they were to establish a command post, but Hatch made it in only 30 minutes. The next wave that came in on Iwo Jima however, caught heavy fire as they landed. Once Hatch established his command post and got settled, he did not leave often to experience much of the battle. In one situation, however, Hatch almost found himself in bad spot. He had not heard from one of his cameramen in over two days, so Hatch decided to go out and look for him. He knew which unit his man was assigned to and roughly where that unit was located. He set out in search of it but soon found himself completely alone. He came across a single American tank and spoke to the tank commander, who informed him that the Japanese were dug in on the side of a nearby hill with a hidden gun that poked out of a small door in the hillside. The tank commander intended to fire on the hidden Japanese gun, but warned Hatch that once he did, all the Japanese machine guns on the hill would open fire and that he best get out of the area. Hatch agreed and went over to where his cameraman’s unit was positioned and made contact with his guy. Once Hatch was safely out of the line of fire, he saw the tank blast a shell right at the hidden Japanese gun as it poked out of the hidden door. Sure enough, every machine gun on the hill then cut loose.

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Norman Hatch remained on Iwo Jima for the first 18 days of the battle. He was flown off on D plus 18. Hatch flew off the island aboard one of the first American aircraft to take off from Iwo Jima during the battle. He flew back to the United States and helped put a film together on the Battle of Iwo Jima before he reported back to Washington DC to receive his next assignment. By that time, Hatch was essentially the most senior photo officer in the entire US Marine Corps and expected an assignment back to the marine base in Quantico, Virginia or to Camp Pendleton in San Diego, CA to make training films, since both bases had full editing studios. He was greatly surprised, however, when his superior assigned him back to the 2nd Marine Division to take part in the forthcoming invasion of Japan. Having covered two of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific war to that point, Hatch was less than excited to take part in what promised to be the bloodiest battle of the war, but he followed his orders and joined the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Tarawa [Annotator's Note: in Hawaii]. Hatch went to Pearl Harbor to organize the coverage of the invasion, which was immensely difficult since all six marine divisions were involved in some way, and all six were to fight in different locations. One evening, Hatch was in an open air movie theater in the navy yard, when the projector was shut off and the projectionist came over the loudspeaker and informed the men that the first atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima. This announcement was followed by dead silence and confusion since the atomic weapons program remained a secret at that time. The next morning when Hatch went in to continue planning coverage of the invasion of Japan, however, the objectives had changed from invasion to occupation. This changed the entire mission for the camera crews, but it was a welcome change. Hatch and his crews went to Japan as part of the occupation force and were charged with filming the destruction of Japanese military positions, weapons, and war materials.

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Norman Hatch disembarked his ship in Nagasaki Harbor to begin the occupation of Japan and immediately saw the devastation wrought by the atomic bomb. He saw a single office building, which had previously served as a customs office, left standing which was still intact except for the windows, which had all been blown out. Inside the customs office, Hatch found that the water still ran both hot and cold, so he decided to use a room in the building as his photo lab. Well furnished offices remained undamaged on the second floor of the building and Hatch offered the space to the commanding general. Hatch and his photo studio occupied the first floor and the general and his staff had the second floor and the entire setup worked very well. He enjoyed occupation duty in Japan very much and he even found time to travel off base and out of Nagasaki. He traveled west from Nagasaki to the fishing village of Shimabara where he spent nearly two weeks. He met the town police chief and his girlfriend who served as an interpreter for Hatch and a photographer friend of his. The police chief and his girlfriend invited Hatch to see a movie in town, which was to be a joyous affair since it would be the first non warfare based, non propaganda film shown since the war began. Hatch drove the group in a jeep to the movie theatre, but on the way, they were stopped by a uniformed Japanese soldier standing in the road. American occupation forces were warned by General Douglas MacArthur's headquarters to be weary of Japanese soldiers who had fought in China as they were extremely unhappy with Japan's surrender and a confrontation with them might end in controversy. Hatch stopped the Jeep in front of the Japanese soldier and the police chief got out to talk with him. The soldier did not like American vehicles driving on Japanese roads, but the police chief dealt with him and Hatch drove the rest of the way to the theatre. The theatre was packed with Japanese civilians and soldiers returned from the war. During the movie, the police chief decided to go out and check on the security of the theatre, but he did not return in a timely fashion, so his girlfriend went to go look for him. This left Hatch and his companion sitting alone as the only Americans in a theatre filled with former Japanese soldiers, which greatly unsettled them. Hatch told his companion to remain in the theatre and then went out in search of the police chief. He found the chief leading the Japanese soldier, whom they had confronted earlier, in handcuffs. It turned out that the police chief arrested the soldier just as he tried to slash the tires on Hatch's jeep. After the film, Hatch and his companion drove back to their living quarters and drove back to the police station the next morning. There they found a little old Japanese women sitting outside the station in tears. Hatch asked his interpreter who the woman was and she explained that she was the mother of the Japanese soldier who tried to slash Hatch's tires. She was worried that American soldier's would kill her son for his transgression. Hatch talked to the police chief and discovered that the police were going to turn the soldier over to his mother, and Hatch condoned the decision on the condition that the mother exert her authority over him so that no further incidents occur against American occupation forces. After the ordeal, the soldier's mother came to Hatch and hugged him on her knees in thanks. She then promised that her son would never act against American troops again. American occupation forces were instructed not to interfere in the business of Japanese police, but in one instance early in the occupation, Hatch had to act. Hatch drove up to a street corner and saw a Japanese police officer beating a helpless old woman with a stick. Offended by the ordeal, Hatch confronted the police officer and stopped the beating. The police officer did not speak English, but he stopped and Hatch picked up the old lady and made sure she was alright. He then found a linguist who asked the police officer in Japanese why he was beating the poor women, to which he responded that she had crossed the street without his permission. The police officer reported Hatch to his police commanders who reported the incident to the American command, and contended that Hatch's actions had taken away the police officer's authority and people's respect for it. Hatch was called in for questioning by his superiors but once Hatch explained the ordeal his superiors understood and commended him, but warned him not to interfere with police business again.

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The National World War II Museum awarded marine combat cameraman Norman Hatch with the Silver Service Award for his service capturing invaluable combat footage from the Pacific Theater. Hatch declined to fly down to the museum to receive the award since he did not want to leave his wife at home alone. The award was presented in the form of a silver medal made out specifically to Mr. Hatch for his service and sacrifice during World War 2. Hatch is very grateful and thankful for the award and did not expect to receive such an award for simply doing his job during the war. Throughout his years of service, Hatch's work has proved fruitful for preserving the history of the war as well as other reasons, and has served the United States well. Hatch will cherish the medal and look at it often. The Silver Service Medallion honors those who served and sacrificed for this country and who carry on the ideals of the World War 2 generation. For Hatch, the award recognizes all that he has done in the field of audio visual work for the United States military and the US State Department, which was a continuation of his service in the Second World War. Hatch was unaware of the award until he received it, which made it hard for him to identify other servicemen individually who might have deserved the award. Hatch does not think that the current and younger generations understand why someone should receive an award like the Silver Service Medallion, which he attributes to the lack of military prevalence in today's society. Hatch feels that it is important, therefore, for The National World War II Museum to create exhibits that demonstrate the actions of the valiant men who fought World War 2. Once Hatch put his eye up to the camera in combat, it became like shooting a movie. The shots are planned so that they each mean something in the context of each other in order to tell a story once properly edited. By filming combat, however, the cameraman lost all sense of the fight around him, but focused on the usage of the film in making a film after the battle. Hatch believes that the public absolutely must see the realities of combat and war as portrayed on film even today. In today's conflicts, however, Hatch feels that the story of war has not been properly told by the public affairs organizations covering the conflict and that improvements should be made.

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Norman Hatch does not think of his experiences on Tarawa or Iwo Jima continuously. Rather, his experiences flood back into his mind when he hears other people speak of those battles, especially if they are incorrect about them. Hatch has constantly talked about the Second World War with historians, authors, collectors, and fans. Hatch knows many people who have collected artifacts and other memorabilia from the war, and Hatch helps such people to advance the history of the Second World War. Hatch feels that the history of World War 2 is being lost to the common person, and he feels that if ordinary people do not visit museums or educate themselves on the war, then they will never understand what took place in it. Hatch does not know what place in history the battles of today's conflicts will have. Hatch fears that the younger generations do not care enough about the history of the Second World War, and acknowledges that younger generations are growing up with a completely different lifestyle than his own. Hatch feels that all museums are important and appreciates that The National World War II Museum is dedicated specifically to preserving the history of World War 2. He finds it amazing how many people go through museums and are impressed by them, but still do not retain a large volume of the information inside them. Hatch would tell children 50 years from now to know and understand their subjects and to always act on the basis of tacit approval, meaning that do all that they intend to do until they are stopped or forbidden. Hatch wants to be remembered for never giving up the marines, but he knows he was fortunate to be able to do what he loves while serving in the US Marine Corps. He also feels that the US Marine Corps has never left him either. He still lives today like a marine and often imagines himself back at his marine barracks in Washington DC. If Hatch had the opportunity to relive the whole war again he absolutely would and would do it the same way. When Hatch was serving in Washington DC the US Navy commandant told him to be good to the US Marine Corps, and the US Marine Corps would be good to him. Hatch still portrays that sentiment in his life and always stays involved in being a marine. Hatch has no resentment and no regrets.

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