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



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(Interviewer) Tell me a little bit about yourself before
you joined the corp.
Where did you-are you from this general vicinity?
(Hatch) No. That's kind of a funny story in a way.
Let me loosen up my throat before we get into this.
[throat clearing] I graduated from high school when I was seventeen.
We lived, basically, in two places:
Boston and Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Gloucester is a seagoing town.
I grew up knowing about boats.
And so-my father was out of work.
He had been in the automobile business from day one,
helped make some of the first automobiles,
the Marmon automobile, which nobody knows
much about these days.
And I sat down with him after I graduated.
I wondered what in the hell I was going to do.
And he did too.
And he recommended that the smart thing for me to do would
be to go in the Navy because if you get aboard a capital ship,
they've got everything a city's got.
They've got pluming. They've got carpentry.
They have electricians, electrical work.
Everything you would find in the city is aboard ship.
So you'd learn a trade.
And when you came out after four years,
you may be able to get a job, at least do something.
Well, that made sense to me.
So I went down to the Navy, or I went down
to the recruiting office in Boston.
Boston was a central recruiting office for all
of New England at that time.
So I passed all their exams,
and they even sent a chief petty officer out to the house
to see what kind of parents I had
and what kind of living I came from, so forth and so on.
That's how selective they were being.
And so when all of that was over with, I said,
"How long would it be before you took me?"
And they said, "Well, it probably will be about a month.
It's kind of slow."
That's okay.
Another month went by; I called up the office. Still a delay.
And so we heard no real promise of any real time.
Another fellow and I bought a dump truck, a Ford dump truck,
a used one, which we sold loam
all around Boston for about a
year because every thirty days, I'd call in.
They'd say, "No, they're not taking any more at this time.
Got to wait. Got to wait. Got to wait."
So that dump truck, incidentally,
is a hand crank up the back of the truck
to dump stuff, no hydraulics.
And so-but we worked all winter-all summer,
rather—on that and part of the winter.
So finally, I went in there in June of the next year.
And I said, "When in the hell are you going to take me?"
And they said they kept pushing
the thing, and I wasn't smart enough
to realize that
the Depression was fouling things up.
People were not coming out of the Navy or the Army
because as long as they had a place to live
and a place to get money and eat
three meals a day, they could also send money home.
They weren't coming out of the service.
So that meant that the service couldn't take any more recruits
in than those that left, you know?
So anyway, I walked out of the office
that day really disconsolate.
And as I had to get to the elevator in the building,
I had to go by the Marine Corps recruiting office.
So just on a whim, I walked into the office.
And I said, "Sarg, if you," no.
"If I said I wanted to join the Marine Corps today,
how long would it be before you took me?"
He said, "You want to leave Friday or two weeks from Friday?"
[laughter] I said, "Well, Friday is a little two early,
but I'll accept the two weeks from Friday."
So two weeks later on the seventh of July, 1939,
I became a Marine forever. (Interviewer) Wow.
That's kind of a roundabout way.
So where'd you go? You go to Paris Island or—?
(Hatch) Yeah, I went to Paris Island. (Interviewer) Yeah, I figured so.
(Hatch) And of course, the school that, the high school,
that I went to in Gloucester, all three years
of my sophomore,
junior, senior years, we had compulsory drill because they
had the Army Corps set up there
for young people and was also
training for possible officer candidate classes later on.
So going to Paris Island was sort of falling off a log
because I had drill for three years.
I had had military tactics taught to me
and things of that nature.
So there wasn't much the Marine Corps could tell me to do
that I didn't know already.
And the DI recognized that and made me
the squad leader of the first squad of my platoon.
It was platoon 22, and I
have to laugh when I look at some of these people today.
They graduate in platoon 347 or something.
A long time ago.
But anyway,
there were two commands in the Army that the
Marine Corps didn't do in movement.
And occasionally I fall into that he'd give the order.
The order was for the same thing,
but it was done differently in the Marine Corps than it was in
the Army, and I'd fall into the Army way.
He'd come up and whap me on the back with a swagger stick and say,
"You're not in the God damn Army now.
You're in the Marine Corps."
So I quickly learned,
but that was easy.
They wanted me because of my height and because I knew a lot
about ships because I'd told them in my interviews that I had
actually spent two tours above a Coast Guard ship Christmas times
because the skipper of the ship was the head of the ice patrol
at that particular time.
In those days, they didn't have
radio contact like they do today and everything else.
So he would go out on the ice patrol
all through the winter months to find
the great big ice blocks that are floating here,
floating there, and would send signals into Europe and also
into the US to look out for these in this area
and so forth and so on.
But his son was in my class in high school.
And we asked him one day if we could go with him on our
two week vacation at Christmas.
And he said, sure, he'd take us.
He had us dress up in the Coast Guard uniform except we didn't wear
the insignia on the sleeve.
And then he put us down in the focsle practically and said,
"You see that chief warrant officer down there,"
or whatever the hell he was. I would say yes.
He said, "Well, you do whatever he tells you to do and do it
quick and fast, and I don't even know you're aboard."
So we would spend two weeks cleaning decks
and doing things like that and everything else.
That convinced me how confining it is aboard
naval ships, because this was a fairly big boat.
It wasn't a tiny Coast Guard type of boat,
but it was more of a cruiser type in a sense.
So I was kind of glad that I hadn't gone into the Navy and
gone aboard ship because it was funny.
I got a letter from one of the fellows that had.
Three fellows went into seagoing,
and they were all put on ships that were down in the Caribbean.
And there was no air-conditioning in those days.
And they were just sweating their life away below decks,
you know, because it was so damned hot.
And he was complaining about it and telling me about it.
So I had seen on the bulletin board,
and they told you every day, to be sure
to read your bulletin board because that will
tell you what your command is doing
and what the Marine Corps is doing.
That was long before what we have today.
So when I was in boot camp, I shot sharpshooter,
not expert but sharpshooter.
But that kept me from going in the mess hall for two weeks,
the last two weeks of duty.
But they gave me jobs to do and all us
that passed to that extent.
And the jobs I had were to keep the water bottles in the offices
of the staff that was there, the office staff,
keep them filled up.
And the second one was because I was New Englander,
I knew how to bank a fire in a furnace.
So I was put in charge of the fire
in the head to be sure that
at three o'clock or at six o'clock when the guys get up,
they could shower, shave, shit, and shampoo,
as the word usually went, in hot water.
Well, I did a thing—I didn't want to wake up at three o'clock
to open the dampener and that kind of stuff so the air would
come in—and I would bank the fire when I went to bed.
And that means putting fresh coals on top of the old coals,
but there wouldn't be enough heat in the old coals to start
the new ones until you opened the dampener at the bottom to
put air in and so forth like that.
So my father, in his mother's house,
slept up on the fourth floor in Boston,
and he had a rig.
You've seen the Gold—
one of the cartoons that draws funny cartoons—Goldberg.
He does a funny cartoon thing.
Well anyway,
what he did
was he got a series of weights,
most of them like window weights—
you know the old window weights?
—an alarm clock alarm, and so forth and so on.
And he would put this on the furnace
down below so that at a certain time,
when the arm of clock fell down,
off would fall one of those weights and lift the dampener.
And then that would life another one,
and so he didn't have to get up out of bed.
And the fire would be roaring three hours later.
Well, I did the same thing down at the camp
when we were going through the training setup.
The DI looked at me and said, "You're crazy."
I said, "No, I'm not. It works."
I was hoping it would do it all right, and it did.
So I didn't have to get up at three o'clock in the morning to
make sure we had hot water.
Like the old Marine Corps was in those days,
I was the acting corporal of the guard one evening.
And he was getting ready to leave, the sergeant was,
and he asked me if I'd take a letter and mail it for him the
next day because he was not going to be on the base or near
any mailing capability.
And he was taking off on some special thing.
So I said, "Sure, I'll mail it for you."
Well, when I went to close up,
I took the letter, and I glanced at it.
And it was addressed to his wife in Shanghai,
but I knew he had a wife over in Buford.
[laughter] But he was keeping the one in Shanghai satisfied.
He sent her money all the time, I found out later on.
He had been a field music over in China—
and that's the guy that blows the horn.
The field music is what we used to call them.
And so he was quite a character one way or the other.
But that was my introduction.
But they said, "Always read the bulletin board."
And my early
stay, my early two weeks stay of not having to go in the mess hall,
I saw a note that said they were looking for an English instructor
at the Marine Corps Institute in Washington.
I've never had any trouble with English
when I was in high school or any other place.
So I wrote a letter and applied for it,
mailed it into Washington and forgot about it.
Two days before I was to ship out to Norfolk to sea school,
the DI comes racing out of his office and said, "Hatch,
what in the hell have you been doing?"
That expression has followed me all the rest of my life in
things that I've been doing.
So I said, "What?
I don't know. What have I been doing, Sergeant?"
"I've got orders to ship you to Washington DC "to teach English.
What the hell kind of a job is that for a Marine to do?"
I said, "I don't know, but I guess I'll find out."
And so
a bunch of us got on the train for Washington,
and most of them got off at Quantico.
In fact, all of them did.
I was the only one that went on through to Washington.
That was on a Sunday morning, and I had my sea bag over one
shoulder, my rifle over the other.
We never were divorced from our rifles in those days
no matter where we went.
And so I walked
from the train station here in Washington
down to 8th and I where I was going to be stationed and saw
what Washington looked like on a Sunday morning.
And so I started off.
Well, this is a long story as to how I got to where I was,
in a sense,
but I spent about six months doing English.
And it was by
correspondence school kind of thing.
And so I got tired of that, but the guy sleeping next to me was
working at Leatherneck Magazine,
which was downstairs from where we slept.
And he didn't like the idea of working at Leatherneck.
So we went down and saw the editor and asked whether he
would accept us an exchange, accept me as an exchange.
And he figured, well, coming from the English department,
I knew how to read and write.
So he said yes.
And so for six months, I worked for him, which was very good.
I had a lot to do and learned a lot about that kind of work.
Once again, the guy sleeping next to me worked at the Navy
department, which is up on Constitution Avenue.
And he was sort of a go—for
working in the Office of Public Affairs.
He was a PFC, but he didn't think that was a very good job.
So I thought, that's closer to headquarters because
the Marine Corps, at that time, had no public information office.
And secondly, I figured the closer I got to headquarters,
maybe there's a good job I could find I could get into.
Well, it was all sort of premeditated.
So once again, the switch was okay.
He came and took my job.
I went and took his.
Now, I'm up amongst all the big shots.
I'm delivering press releases to every admiral's office
you can think of.
And I was in and out of the commandant's office.
He was only a colonel in those days.
So I got to know him, just hello, set bases.
One day, an unusual thing happened.
We were ordered by the president
to only wear our uniforms once a week, and in an office,
alternate with somebody else.
So he'd wear his one a week, what have you.
And the reason for that was that he had just ordered in
a fairly large group of reserve officers, naval officers,
but he didn't want one
of his enemies in the House who was
anti-war and had a very strong following
to know how many men,
reservist, were in the Washington area
by seeing them in uniform.
Now, he wouldn't see so many uniforms walking around town.
So we thought that was a pretty good kick.
The two of us that worked in Navy Public Relations—there was
a sergeant I worked with—
so he and I switched off and what have you.
But one day, I was delivering press releases,
and I'd gotten through all of them.
And I went up into the head on the third floor.
And while I'm standing there at a urinal,
who comes in but the commandant, stands right next to me.
He's in civilian clothes too. And he looks at me.
He says, "You're a Marine, aren't you son?"
I said, "Yes, I am."
He says, "How do you like your job?"
What are you going to tell the commandant? [laughter]
But nevertheless, I liked it very much
because I went uptown to the Press Club.
I got to know all the reporters up there.
I got to know Arthur Godfrey, for example,
and so it was a big thing.
And I told him I liked it very much.
So after we all get cleaned up and everything,
and we're going out the door, he says, "Son,
I want to tell you one more thing." I said, "What's that?"
He said, "You be good to the Corps,
and it will be good to you."
And I never forgot those words.
From there,
there had been applications
posted on the bulletin board,
and the stuff that you'd read every day,
about a new school in New York for the March of Time.
You know the March of Time? (Interviewer) No.
(Hatch) Yeah, okay.
March of Time was the leading newsreel of film of the day.
It was a half hour show produced only once a month.
And it was about anything in the world.
And that was good because our country,
the people in our country, were not well versed
in what was happening in the rest of the world.
We were an agrarian country,
and the kids coming out
of high school didn't—
going to college wasn't necessarily the first
thing they thought about so forth and so on.
So it was a good thing that people would go to the movies.
They would wait for a good movie that was coming
to go at the time that the March of Time
was showing because it was so
informative and so greatly done.
So anyway, what happened was the producer up there,
Louis de Rochemont, the founder of the operation and everything,
had gotten a lot of Army and Navy stock footage,
but he said it was no good. Nothing was telling a story.
All it was sort of grip and grin kind of stuff,
who's been promoted and all that kind of stuff.
And so it wasn't of any use to him.
Here's where the story get's funny and good.
Louie, during WWI, was in the Navy
aboard a destroyer in the Dardanelles,
and his roommate, another ensign,
was now a rear admiral in charge of naval personnel.
So Louie calls up his old pal, the admiral, and says,
"All this Army and Navy footage is full of crap.
It's unusable. " He said, " Would you send me a least three or
four Navy photographers who know their equipment,
can handle their equipment up to me and also two Marines.
And I'll teach them how to tell stories with their cameras." So
that started the School of Pictorial Journalism at the
March of Time in 1941.
Well, I applied for the school, was turned down for once.
I tried again, when I was working
at Leatherneck and turned down.
And I had a third application in when I was working for the Navy.
And one day, this order that the president had come up with,
order a bunch of reserves, one of the reservists came in to our
office in Public Affairs, and because of what his background
had been, took over the newsreel department.
He had been a director at the March of Time.
So when I learned that, I went back to him one day and said,
"Lieutenant, could I go to lunch with you?"
That's something never done in those days.
But he was an outsider so to speak.
So he said, "Yes, I don't mind." I said,
"I've got a lot to tell you about my problems
with MOT, March of Time."
So I told him my whole story.
And he said, "Well, let's see what happens."
one day, I put in my third application to go.
And I told him that it was just about ready to come to a head
as to whether or not I'd be accepted or not.
And my executive officer, Lt.
Gordan, came into the office one day and said, " Norm,
"I'm sorry to tell you that you
are turned off again, turned down again. You can't go."
I immediately went back to Alan Brown,
the lieutenant and said, "Lieutenant,
"I've been turned down a third time.
What can be done?"
"Well, Louis de Rochemont's coming to town tomorrow.
"I've got to give him some film,
"so I'll send you over to the hotel with the film,
and you can talk to him, see what happens."
So I didn't know all this back story about
WWI or anything like that, you know, with the general,
or the admiral rather.
So I went, delivered the film the next day.
And he and I talked.
He had two Norwegian Air Force camera men with him because he
was doing a story on the Canadian Air Force training the
Norwegian Air Force and giving them airplanes because all their
stuff was in German hands.
And so they were starting a new Air Force,
and these two guys were being cameramen for it.
And so anyway, when I went back
after that, I said, "He was very nice."
And I don't know what happened, but two days later,
an officer comes roaring into the office.
"Norm, what in the hell have you been doing?"
I said, "I don't know. What have I been doing?"
And he said, "I've got orders to ship you to New York immediately
to participate in the new March of Time school class which
starts October 1, 1941."
And that started me off in the training.
I'd already had some experience with cameras.
I was in the high school photo
set up in the school and so forth and so on.
So it wasn't all new to me in that sense.
But shooting movies was.
And so they—
I spent six months up there and two months more
breaking in the new class of Marines
and then came back to Quantico, went back to Quantico.
And we're shooting training films.
Then they shipped me off to join the 2nd Marine Division
when it was forming.
(Interviewer) Where were you when you heard about Pearl?
(Hatch) I was asleep when Pearl Harbor—I was asleep at my place
there in New York.
And I'd set the radio to come on at a certain time.
And I heard this news
about Pearl Harbor sort of half-heartedly through my ears.
I was still sleepy, and I thought it was another one of
these stories like that thing that was in New Jersey where the
people came down on the Earth and scared all the New Jersey—
(Interviewer) War of the Worlds.
(Hatch) Yeah. That's War of the Worlds.
And everybody in New Jersey was scared to death
and ready to leave and everything like that.
And so I sort of dosed off again,
but all of a sudden I heard, "All service members
are to report to their offices immediately."
That woke me up.
I call the sergeant major down at the Navy yard—that's where
our paperwork was for the three Marines that were up there
at the March of time so they could keep track of your pay
and do all the things they had to do.
So I called him up, and I said—because I was senior man.
I was the oldest man up there—and they said,
"Do you want the three of us to come down to the Navy yard?"
He says, "Jesus Christ, no. No.
"I've got so God damn many people down here
I don't know what to do with them."
These were all reservists and everybody else.
Once a call like that went out and people had realized what had
happened at Pearl, they all came in.
They just weren't going to stay out.
So anyway, he never called us.
And that Sunday, Louie de Rochemont
called me up and asked me to come down to the office.
And I went down there, and he said, "You know Washington well.
"We want you to help load a truck, or not a truck,
"but one of the cars with camera gear and everything else because
"on Monday, the President is going to declare war against Japan.
And we're going to want to cover it."
And so we loaded up the car.
I drove it down on Sunday, stayed in a hotel,
dated my girlfriend, took my girlfriend and her mother—
my girlfriend who's now my wife—
and took she and her mother to dinner.
And we talked about what was happening.
Next morning, I went to the train and picked up the guys,
and we drove over to the capital.
And I helped them get all their gear up
to the highest setup
where all the cameras usually hung out up in the gallery.
And I had a handheld camera,
a Minox 35mm for black and white.
And I roamed around the place shooting
cutaway shots and that sort of thing for what they were doing.
And then when the president came,
a bunch of us went to the channel that he drove into
underneath the building.
And shot a picture of the car coming in.
And then nobody shot anything while he got out of the car
because that was standing operating procedure in those days.
You waited until he got up on his feet.
He had to lock his braces.
So he'd get up, stand up, and his son,
who was a Marine lieutenant colonel was with him.
And so they walked up the area passed the press.
So when he came past me, he saluted me because I was in uniform.
And I had met him before because when I was at Eighth and I,
we went down to down to Georgia
where he'd go twice a year for the waters down there.
You know, he'd swim and what have you.
When I was a freshman down there, the first time I'd been down there,
I was marching back and forth outside his cottage.
And he was sitting there reading out in the open.
And I saw the hand wave.
We'd been told not to do anything
with the president of the United States; don't even talk to him.
And so I thought, well,
maybe he thought I was too far away
to be any good as a guard.
So I came in maybe four or five feet,
and then started walking back and forth again.
And he kept on motioning.
So finally, I went into him and said, "Yes sir?
What can I do for you?
You know, sir, I've been ordered not to talk to you." He said,
"Do you know who I am?" I said, "Yes sir.
You're the president of the United States."
He said, "I'm also the senior officer of all forces as well.
You can do anything I tell you to do."
I said, "Yes sir." He said, "Where are you from?"
And I said, "Well, I'm from Boston,
but mostly Gloucester, Massachusetts."
He said, "Oh, I know Gloucester well." I said, "I know you do.
"I've seen you come in on cruisers during the summer time.
"And I was also aboard the ship
"that gave you, from Gloucester,
"that gave you a painting of the seascape and so forth and so on
"done by a painter that I know very well
that lived on Rocky Neck not far from where we lived. "
And he said, " Oh yes. I know that painting.
It's hanging in the White House right now; I like it very much."
And so that was the end of our conversation.
I walked back to walk post again.
And then the second time I met the family,
was on my second trip down there to Warm Springs.
I was riding a horse.
They had a stable there for people at Warm Springs in the
hospital who are capable of doing that.
But they didn't get very much riding out of them.
And so I went down there one day, and I said,
"Have you got a good fractious horse down here?"
He said, "I got one; if you touch him
in that spot, the black spot in the back, he'll jump on you."
I said, " Okay. I won't touch that."
But he was a very good horse.
I rode logging trails all up around
the camp and everything like that. They're very good.
But a horse knows when you're heading back to the barn.
And I gave him his reins, and he ran.
And we were going down, and it was a dirt road.
And the ruts for the wheels were on the side.
So we were hell-bent for electory (sic).
It was really something.
And all of a sudden, just picture
that here is the main base of the camp.
And there's a roadway like this coming along
this way that turns this way.
And I'm coming down this way.
And on this turn of the road, who comes around
but Mrs. Roosevelt and Missy LeHand,
the president's secretary, and me on a 1,500 pound horse,
full gallop, racing right at them.
I pulled back on the reins,
slip off the saddle of the back, still holding onto the reins.
The horse was jittering because they hate to run into people.
And so I finally dropped the reins,
and I go over to Mrs. Roosevelt. She's in one of the ditches.
I pick her up. I say, "You hurt?" She says, "No.
We got over here to get out of your way.
We could hear you coming,
but we didn't realize how close you were,
the hooves of the horse hitting on the hard dirt."
And I went over to Missy LeHand, picked her up
and dusted her off and everything.
And she, Mrs. Roosevelt, said, "Son, don't worry about that.
"That was our fault.
We could hear you coming, and we should have known better."
And so she walked on.
I said—I figured that I was probably going to be
kicked out of the Marine Corps for that.
But just to end that story a little bit,
I'm now in New Zealand.
I've been there for maybe six or seven months.
And Mrs. Roosevelt comes to visit
like she did in all the military areas
to be able to tell her husband how things were going on.
So I was detailed to cover her
for new release in whatever she was doing.
And one day she said to me, "Why do you shoot
so much film of me?"
I said, "Because if I don't, I'll probably be court-martialed."
And she laughed, and we went on.
And that was the only conversation we had.
But when we got ready to leave, she had a picture taken with all
of us who followed her around and took care of her and the New
Zealanders, the officers of the base and so forth and so on and
our public affairs office and the military police and
everything like that and the camera crews.
So I was kneeling; everybody else
was standing, but I was kneeling on the ground.
After the picture was taken, she walked towards her car
because she was going to catch a plane to go to Australia.
And she turned around at the door of the car,
and she did that motioning just like her husband would do.
And everybody said, "Who the hell does she want?"
And then she pointed down.
I'm the only guy on the ground kneeling.
So I go to her and say, "Mrs. Roosevelt, what can I do for you?"
She said, "Do you still like to drive fast horses?"
Now, that was two and a half years later.
Good memory.
I thought we must have scared the hell out of her,
that horse and I, for her to remember that so well.
I said, "Well, yes I do.
Another photographer and I have bought two horses here
in New Zealand and we swim them
in the ocean every Satur—every weekend."
But that's pretty much the story of my life.
(Interviewer) You get—
you get your orders—
well, you were there in the capital
when the president declared war, weren't you? (Hatch) Yeah.
I was in the capital when the president declared war.
(Interviewer) What was the atmosphere like in there?
>> Well— >>I've heard the speech.
Everybody's heard the speech.
(Hatch) It was very serious as you can well imagine.
And everybody was thinking, I'm sure,
about their home states and cities and so forth and so on
and the people in them and what would have to be done.
It was really a—
nobody was playing around for sure.
Of course, the galleries, they had young people up in them.
And of course, a lot of them would know that this was going
to affect them greatly.
And that's the way it was.
But it was funny, you know, in the way that the galleries were
set up for the camera crews for the big cameras that they had.
There was just hardly enough room in the seat,
to be able to be in the seat, still have the tripod there
and have your knees against the edge
of the balustrade, you know,
to protect you from falling over the side.
And thus, consequently, they didn't have room
for their extra magazines for the cameras.
So because I was in uniform, I was the only one that was able
to go in and out because they lock
those doors once you were in up there.
They didn't want anybody roaming around.
But I convinced the guard that these guys needed the film.
And so I would get the film for all five of the news reels.
When they were running down,
when they saw getting through their thousand feet
—because it went through the camera ninety feet a minute.
So it didn't take long for it to go through.
I'd go up for MGM, whoever,
get in their box, pick up theirs, take it down.
Keep the film running.
(Interviewer) What—after war was declared,
you were still here in—you were still here.
(Hatch) I was in New York still.
(Interviewer) And when did you get ordered to go to the 2nd Division?
(Hatch) Well, I got through in—
let's see—six months,
two months—I think it was some time probably around April 1942
I came back to Quantico.
And Louis Hayward, the actor, was already in.
He had volunteered.
So I worked with him quite a bit,
and we were making training films.
And I got the orders to the 2nd Division.
I just don't remember exactly when,
but it probably was in May.
No wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute.
(Interviewer) Well, did you
go with the 2nd Division at Guadalcanal or no?
(Hatch) No. 2nd div—? No, no. No.
The 1st Division went to Guadalcanal.
(Interviewer) Right. (Hatch) And parts of the 2nd went.
Yeah. (Interviewer) Right.
(Hatch) And no, part of our crew went though
with some of our photographers went,
but it was up to me to tell which ones would go.
And I was a senior NCO at that time.
And so I wanted to go, but they only had room for something like
two or three and the detail that was going.
But it was a good on the job training
with these kids because
we had had almost eleven months
of capability of training
the cameramen in motion picture work
because none of them had had any experience in it before.
And we picked out a group of number.
We had approximately thirty men by the time we were there.
And before we left the West Coast,
I had convinced the quartermaster and my boss,
who was a warrant officer, who knew nothing about motion
pictures—(Interviewer) That's usually how it works.
(Hatch) Yeah, that's right.
Well, he was an amateur still man, but he was a warrant office.
He's been a taxi driver here in DC, but he was in the Reserves.
And when they called in people, he got called in.
And I don't know how the hell he became in the photographic side,
but he did know a little bit about photography.
So anyway, I convinced
him and the quartermaster that we
should go up to Hollywood or Los Angeles
and buy as many motion picture cameras
as we could because we only had three
Bell & Howell Eyemos
that we were to take overseas with us.
We figured we were going to go at least six thousand miles
away and inland where there wouldn't be any repair capability.
And what the hell would we do if the cameras failed.
So they okayed us to do what we wanted to do.
That was Johnny Urkel, who was also at the March of Time
with me, that's his picture right over there.
And he and I went up to Hollywood,
and we brought about fourteen
Milhous filmal type cameras.
They were the magazine load type,
and they were called the auto load.
And you just put a cartridge in the back of them,
didn't have to thread them with your fingers or anything like
that, which took up so much time with the Eyemos.
And they were small; they were about that big and could fit in
your pocket if you needed to put them in a pocket.
And so they also had a three-lens turret on the side
like the Eyemos did so that you had a viewfinder whenever you
put it up to your eye.
So we brought over a dozen of those.
And we brought all the color film that existed in the markets
there in LA and that magazine load stuff.
And we took that to New Zealand with us,
and I wouldn't use it in New Zealand
because I found out that
in the New Zealand photo stores
they had the black and white film to fit the camera.
So I could buy that, but the processing had to be done in
Australia, at Kodak Australia.
And so we send the film that they guys were learning were
using in training and what have you over to Australia.
They'd send it back to us and so we could see how they would
shoot a story and could critique them and so forth and so on.
So that was a start, really, of color
being used in combat in the Marine Corps.
And pretty much for the rest of the services as well because the
other cameras were just too big and wieldy for—I mean,
running around with a fourteen pound Eyemo
sitting up in your face
and with the lenses—it went up to three lenses sticking out
and what have you—that was a heavy load.
And at my age now, even though I feel like I'm strong enough,
I couldn't pick one up.
I've got a 16mm here which was an exact duplicate of what that
camera looked like only it was that small.
Even that is too heavy for me.
So as they used to say, time marches on.
It does things to you.
(Interviewer) So you guys, you
leave New Zealand with the 2nd Division.
Did you have any idea where you—
I would imagine they wouldn't have told you.
(Hatch) No.
They told us before going
that we were going to make a landing.
Okay, we knew that much.
And so the battalion commanders, I'm sure,
had much more information than that so that they could,
when they got aboard ship, could then tell the people aboard ship
what the landing was going to be like and so forth and so on.
But I knew
which battalions were going to be first landers.
And I wanted the guys to be with them.
So a couple of weeks before we were to offload—or load onto
ships rather—I sent my guys out to these battalions so that they
could know the people in the battalion,
know the commanding officer, and so that the people
in the battalion would know that they were with them,
weren't strangers and everything like that.
I wanted them to get a little training with the unit.
And so they shot everything
from getting prepared to go aboard ship,
going aboard ship, on ship, training aboard ship,
all stuff like that.
And each one of them would do the same kind of story
so that we would have a compilation of
all of it at some time later when we edit the film.
So I picked for myself
the battalion commander, I thought,
would be in the trouble the most
and that would be where the best pictures would be made.
And his name was Jim Crow. He was a major.
And Jim was well known in the Marine Corps.
He was a sharpshooter.
He shot on the major team that would compete against the other
services every year.
He was a great football player.
That was a big thing in those days.
And he'd been in—
I don't think he'd been in WWI,
but he'd been in what we called the Banana Wars.
So he was well known.
So I got an appointment with him,
and I walked in his office.
And they said—he said, "Well, who are you?"
And I said, "I'm Norman, Staff Sergeant Norman Hatch."
And he said, "Where are you from?"
I said, "Division headquarters."
"Well, why do you want to come with me?"
I said, "Because I'm a motion-picture cameraman."
He says, "That what you do?" I said, "Yes sir."
He said, "I don't a Hollywood Marine.
Goddamn Hollywood Marine." Hollywood Marine.
That's what he said, "—any goddamn Hollywood Marine with me. "
I said, " I'm not a Hollywood Marine, Sir.
I'm a regular. I've got five years service.
I've had all the training, and I know that if I need a rifle,
all I'll have to do is bend down and pick one up."
And he looked at me for a minute and a half, and he said,
"All right, but stay the hell out of my way."
And I said,"Yes Sir." So what did I do?
Well, simple.
I made sure that all the guys got aboard the regular boats,
and I had a boat to myself.
They gave me one to run around in and do that.
I have a Navy guy driving it of course.
And so I came to the boat that Jim Crow was on.
I got myself hauled up on that.
And so I
found a place to live and found out where he was.
I also, a little later on, found out what boat he was going over
the side to get into because I wanted to be with him.
And so the time came,
and I watched him go over the side.
I followed him right on down.
He got up on the engine hatch of the LCVP
on one side, and I sat— got up
on the hatch—on the other side, sat right along side of him.
He looked at me and grinned.
[laughter] I thought I was in.
We were not supposed to go in on the first wave because he,
as a battalion commander, would have
ample boat loads of Marines
to come in after the first landing has been successful.
And he also had
his assistant battalion commander
ashore with the men.
And so he knew that they'd be well taken care of.
But all of a sudden, he saw the amphibious tractors,
that had carried in most of the first three waves,
sort of piling up against the pier.
I jokingly later used to say that it
looked like an automobile junkyard.
They were piling up on each other because the pier stopped them.
What was happening was that there was a Japanese machine
gunner buried in a tank top on one side over there,
and he was shooting machine gun bullets at these tractors.
And they weren't heavily armored or anything.
And I imagine the driver was hearing bullets going around
inside of his cab and scared to death.
But that was causing Jim Crow to sit out there and say,
"I'm losing my beach head.
I don't have any beach head in there,
and I've got all these boats coming in.
We've got to get in there and get something organized
to protect that beach.
Coxen, put this goddamned boat in right now!"
So Coxen gunned her, and away we went.
And as he hit the reef, which we knew we would do,
he pulled the gag to lower the ramp, and it wouldn't go down.
So it meant we all had to go up over the side.
The side of the LCVP was above shoulder height on me.
And I stayed in the boat
until everybody was off except my assistant, Kelliher.
And he was PFC I was training.
And I put him over the side,
and he carried one camera and put it on his wrist.
We had two canisters
of film that were that long each put on our shoulders.
The Navy put them on mine
when I went over the side to do the same thing.
So that's the way we were walking in, standing up,
while everyone else was dogpaddling
because people were shooting at them.
Why we never got shot I'll never know.
But there was an observer who was with us,
a lieutenant colonel, who would kneel down and shoot underneath
the pier because there were snipers underneath there.
You'd see the bodies fall out.
So that's probably why I didn't get hit.
But walking in water is not easy even though the weight that we
had on our shoulders kept our feet on the ground
in the salt water, which was a good thing.
We were able to walk in without getting our cameras wet and
everything else and the film wet.
The film was in these tin cans.
And we had them taped up with waterproof tape,
so we didn't think they'd get wet.
But the camera, we couldn't do anything with,
and so—except carry it.
But fortunately neither of the two cameras got wet.
If they had got wet, we could have cleaned them off
with fresh water, but we didn't have any fresh water.
So that was our problem.
But nevertheless, the cameras worked
all through the three-day battle.
And Tarawa was important in two ways.
Ever since the Battle of Gallipoli in WWI,
which was ordered by the British equivalent
of the secretary of the Navy—
he almost lost his job from that because it was such a failure—
was the landing against
a group of Germans and Turks who
were up against a hill, up in a hillside and who practically
annihilated the New Zealand, Australian,
and British forces who were trying to make a landing.
That particular episode is still revered by the New Zealanders
and Australians as ANZAC day.
And they celebrate that for all that were wounded and killed
in that particular operation. It's a complete failure.
And from that day on, all military people
that had any
command of anything like that would say that you could not
make a landing against a heavily fortified beachhead,
a successful landing.
Well, we have one lieutenant colonel
during the forties,
and late thirties and early forties,
who was sure that we'd have to make landings of that type.
And he trained Marines on the Potomac River
and also whenever
we down during training in the Caribbean
how to make a landing.
He was laughed at by most of the military people,
but in seventy-six hours, we took an island that the
commanding admiral on that island thought couldn't be done
in a million years.
And so we'd done in thirty-six hours,
and that just shows you that
you can never tell what would happen.
Now, one of the interesting things about that battle nobody
knew about during the battle was that
we had annihilated
the commanding officer of the Japanese troupes
and his complete staff because he was walking,
decided to walk across the airstrip
to another post, command post.
The one that he was in was too close to the landings,
and he was moving across the landing strip.
And an aviator above spotted him and notified a navy destroyer,
that was very close to the island and had been firing
shells at the various installations on the island,
that those guys were walking and to get them.
And they did.
They annihilated the whole staff, Japanese staff.
So the Japs didn't know where they're commanding general was.
We had no knowledge of it.
I don't know whether that would have changed the battle in any
way, shape, form, or matter, but it's an interesting point.
Probably the only time that the commanding officer of a unit had
been killed before it's been any battle.
But in that seventy-six hours,
there were a little over
1,000 Marines killed,
and about 12,050 some odd Marines
wounded and pretty nearly
4,500 Japanese killed.
(Interviewer) That was definitely a bloody three days.
(Hatch) That's why you cannot compare battles when people try
to do that because you can look at a battle that's going on
today where three people get killed, you see.
It's a great consternation by everybody that that happens,
but the wars are not the same.
You just cannot compare them in any shape, form, or matter.
(Interviewer) Let me stop you.
Tell me about how the landings go
from your perspective and your boat.
(Hatch) After Jim Crow put us in on the beach,
a few more boats tried to come in.
Actually, the plan was that
at a certain time after the first landing,
they'd start sending in the boats with the bulk of the men
because in the amphibious landings that we'd
had, we probably put ashore
between 700-800 men. And that was all there was.
And so they would be eagerly waiting the boat crews coming in
because that would enforce the troop line.
Well, the first boats to come in—and I was sitting there with
my back to the seawall loading a camera and having to watch
this—as soon as it hit the reef and dropped the ramp,
a shell would come in and hit it
from the other side of the island, blast it all to pieces.
You'd see a boat blown apart, people blown apart.
And this happened half a dozen times until finally I think that
Jim Crow, at that point, had the only radio that was active,
and he radioed the ships, the command ship, laying off shore,
"Don't send in any more troops at all
until we figure this thing out
and we're able to negate."
Well, the Japanese had three 8-inch rifles sitting over there
which they'd bought from the British
in the early 1900s, yeah,
for the Russian war that they were in.
They'd never used them.
But so they had them stored for a long time,
so they broke these out and put them on the islands to act as
strength for them in fighting off any landings.
Well, it was doing it all right.
So anyway, they call the command ship and said,
"Don't send anybody more in until we tell you to." Well,
as the day wore on, all the battalion commanders on the
beach, Three Beaches as it was called,
were very concerned because they knew
how many Japanese were there.
And they figured that there'd probably be a bonsai charge
in the evening when dark set in.
They would really get those of us that were on the beach and
hadn't gone in very far, you know.
And so there was talk about,
from the ship outside,
of bringing in the replacement boats
after dark.
And I remember Jim Crow saying— I was pretty close to his setup
at that time—"Christ, we'll be shooting each other because we
"won't know who's on the beach.
And our guys move around on the beach in the dark."
So they put out the word practicaly like,
"For the love of God, don't send anybody in,
in the dark because we won't know who's on the beach."
As it was, a half a dozen Japanese
crawled into our beach in the night
and were stabbing the wounded laying on the beach
and would kill them off.
In our area, section of the beach, Jim Crow had said,
"I don't want to hear anybody firing a pistol
"or a rifle at any Japanese that crawls in.
Use your knives."
We all slept with our knives underneath us
because he said, "I will shoot
the son of bitch that shoots somebody."
Anybody that shoots a pistol is likely to get shot himself.
He didn't want anybody firing on the beach
because that would cause trouble.
And so there wasn't any.
The Japanese were all killed by guys with knives.
And there were five of them, five or six of them.
And so we survived that night.
Everybody though sure there was going to be charge,
but there wasn't.
And they could have pushed us off, I'm pretty sure.
But I think that their lack of their governing body being gone
probably—nobody could talk to anybody, you know.
It was just crazy.
So anyway, the next day the boats began coming in.
And eventually they could stop those 8-inch rifles,
and why didn't they stop them the first day,
I don't know because that caused a lot of problems for us as well.
But they held them for the boats.
They knew the boats had to come in,
and they were curious about the tractors.
They didn't know anything about the amphibious tractors,
the Japanese didn't.
They didn't have any knowledge of them.
So in fact, we didn't get all of them that we needed.
Our commanding general, General Smith,
had ordered so many,
and they came two days, I think, before the landing.
They came in aboard ships from Hawaii.
They had to run them all out
and get them to every ship that was needing them.
Ah shit. (Interviewer) Typical.
(Hatch) You know, it's amazing it went off
as well as it did, but—
(Interviewer) What was it like?
I mean your—this is, up to that point,
this is the most hotly contested battle in the Pacific.
And you're there on this beach with no weapon.
You've got a camera. What—? (Hatch) I had a pistol.
>>Did you? Youhad a sidearm? >> Yeah.
I finally convinced everybody.
See, basically, the only people that had pistols
in the Marine Corps were officers
or military police and that was it.
And I convinced my boss to go to the commanding general to get
an okay for all photographers
to carry pistols because
with all the photo gear they had strapped on themselves
and pouches and all kinds of things
you would never be able to carry a rifle.
It would be falling off your shoulder all the time.
If you had it strapped across,
it would be in the way of everything.
And so that was a hard sell, but I got—I succeeded.
We had the armory right next door
to where the photo section was in New Zealand.
And we had plenty of pistols.
We armed everybody with a pistol.
We took them up in a hillside and trained them not firing like
the Marine Corps taught us, but I had a guy in my outfit that
had been trained by the FBI
at the FBI school here at Quantico
and how to fire pistols.
And he even showed us how to fire through the holster.
Don't bother to haul out the pistol.
Some guy comes around the corner quick and he's got a gun up on
you, just flip it and shoot right through holster.
We were pretty well trained along that line.
But the—it was like being a kid in a candy store because
wherever I looked, there was a story to tell,
there was somebody doing something.
And they were fighting, yes. There was fighting.
And they were going what they had to do.
They were maneuvering in a certain way,
or they were doing this or that or there was a machine gunner
that had dead aim on something going on so forth and so on.
So I just walked around shooting it.
And I get up on what was considered the front lines
for the 2nd battalion, 8th Marines,
which I was attached to Jim Crow's outfit.
And the guy says, "What the hell are you doing here?
You don't have to be here?"
And I'd have to convince them that I did have to be there
because if the public couldn't see what we were doing,
we wouldn't get any support.
And so they'd buy into that.
They didn't bother me or heckle me anymore.
I would always go to his meetings, whenever he had one,
in the morning especially.
And he'd call in
his battalion executive officer and everybody else.
And they'd sit there and talk about these things so I'd know
where to go, where they were going to do this stuff.
And when they decided to take the big block house,
that was the biggest thing, and that was the third day.
So—I'm trying to think of the assistant's name right now,
but he was a major.
When he came out of the morning meeting that day, he said,
"We're going to take that block house.
Do you want to come up and shoot it?"
I said—what are you going to say to a major.
I said, "Sure."
And we half crawled and half walked up to where CP was.
And we sat in a great big shell hole,
and he called in all the senior guys of his organization that
were up there, both enlisted and officers.
They sat down and planned
how they were going to take that big building.
And so they agreed it was almost like the movies.
Everybody looked at their watches
and 0900 would be the jump off time so forth and so on.
And so at 0900, he looks at me.
Everybody's gone back to their posts to tell people
what they've got to do.
And he says, "You ready?" And I said, "Yeah, I'm ready."
So he gets up and stands up. And it's quiet.
There isn't anybody shooting anything at that particular time.
And he yells, "Follow me," and he raised his arm like this.
And the two of us come up out of his hole, and we run towards it.
We weren't very far away from it.
And we go up, and it's like in the sand.
It's all covered with sand.
It's like one foot up and two feet back because you keep sliding.
And of course, I couldn't put a camera down in the sand,
so I only had one hand to help myself to with to get up there.
But we finally got up there, the two of us.
We ran across and looked over the side,
and there were five or six Japanese outside the doorway
looking up at us wondering what the devil
we're doing on their command post.
And I look at him, and I said, "Major, where's your rifle?"
He says, "I gave it to a man who lost his in the water coming in."
I said, "Where's your pistol?" He said, "It doesn't work."
And this is all happening in nanoseconds.
We didn't have that word then,
but, like, I can say it now, nanoseconds.
And I said, "We'd better get the hell out of here right now.
[phone ringing] I don't know.
(Interviewer) All right, so you tell him—
(Hatch) So when the major tells me that he has neither a rifle
nor a pistol, and I knew mine
was in my back and I couldn't
reach it, I said,
"We'd better get the hell out of here quick, "
because I didn't know whether there was another stairway
of some sort that they could come up,
and they could catch us very quickly.
And I turn around, and there wasn't a Marine with us.
We were the only two up on top
of the tallest building on Tarawa.
We could look over the whole island and see it.
And I wondered, where in the hell are those Marines.
So anyway, we went off and run down the side,
and he holds another meeting.
And he wasn't very nice in what he was saying.
But they organized themselves again, and once again, took off.
We didn't run up on top the thing then again,
but I photographed down on the bottom what they were doing.
And that's when I was able to get that shot of the Japanese
coming out and a machine gunner was between some walls on this
side and the wall of the other thing is like a corridor between
the buildings.
And one of our machine gunners had set up right down there to
be able to cover that field in case anybody
did come out of the building. And sure enough, they did.
Two or three squads came out because they had seen,
through their periscopes in the building,
the fact that we were going down
the beach and come up behind them.
And they wanted to stop that.
So that's why they came out, and they made a big mistake
because this machine gunner
was just shooting them down as they came out.
And I was able to get that.
Of course, there were about twenty feet away
and able to get that shot very nicely.
That was probably the only time in the Pacific War,
and I think in the European War, that we were able to get motion
picture film shot of our troops
and the enemy troops in the same frame.
(Interviewer) That was one of the scenes that I was—one of the
shots I was going to ask you about in particular.
You see them come zoom [fast sound].
They come running out of there pretty quick. >> Yup.
>>And you were stationed—that's on the side of the block house?
(Hatch) I was in the back of the block house,
but when somebody over by the machine gunner yelled,
"Here come the Japs!" I didn't move my feet.
I just turned my body like this and shot.
And it worked.
And it—(Interviewer) Yeah, that's a pretty iconic—
(Hatch) Yeah, it is.
It—see, everybody, both in the European War
and the Japanese War, everybody was dug in.
The Germans had wonderful, dug-in placements, you know.
So you didn't see them until you crawled up, if you did,
to throw a grenade in or something like that.
But it wasn't like the old day ways when people were out on the
open plains running against you.
They didn't do that very often because everybody'd be killed by
the people they were running against.
(Interviewer) There's another shot in there.
I don't know if you shot it or not,
but I know it's from Tarawa.
There's a Marine that runs right—you see him.
He throws like at—it looks like a Bangalore torpedo.
And he throws something over his head, and he goes down.
He get's—it looks like he gets hit
or—either that or he flat out just falls.
Do you recall shooting that? (Hatch) No, that wasn't mine.
(Interviewer) That wasn't yours?
(Hatch) No, I didn't tell you the business
about the—
when the boats came in, I explained
that part about the long rifles being
able to hit them.
They were really zeroed in on that reef.
It was a perfect target for them.
And so the three big guns that they had back then,
the 8-inch rifles as they called them,
really annihilated troops coming in.
Until we were able to get—I don't know
whether air stopped them or not.
Air had seen them before, Navy air, Marine air.
Why they didn't knock them out before we ever landed,
I don't know, but that was
one of the mistakes made in the early part of the battle
and probably would have saved many lives if they had.
But you
probably heard the Eddie Albert story.
He—I knew Eddie pretty well,
and he and I sat together one night.
It was out there
at the Museum of the Pacific out in Texas.
>>Fredericksburg, yeah. >>Yeah. That's right.
He and I were talking on that particular day with each other.
In fact, the people that put us up—not in a hotel,
but in a very unusual setup—a man in that part of Texas had
gone around the country and bought log cabins that people
had that were falling apart practically and various types.
Actually, one of them was a hotel
or sort of a hotel if you could call it that.
But he bought them up.
He took them apart and brought them to this place
and made a motel out of them.
And it was really nice to be in them.
They were really, really well put together.
And Eddie Albert and I were together.
He was older than I was,
and I think he was becoming a little frail at the time.
And the gal that was running the thing says she wanted me to sort
of take care of him, make sure he was okay and what have you
because we both had been at Tarawa.
We sat up that night until about four in the morning talking
about that. He was emotional.
And I guess to be a good actor,
you've got to be emotional sometimes.
But this never left him,
this Battle of Tarawa, and what he did.
And one of the things which
was very unusual was when he
reported aboard ship, the doctor aboard ship said,
"Don't ever have any run-ins with the skipper
because if you do, he'll really kill you."
And he says, "Why?"
He said, "Because he hates Jews."
Well, then he says, "I'm not Jewish. I'm German extraction,"
but he wasn't Jewish. He said, "It doesn't matter.
"He thinks you're Jewish because of the name,
pronunciation, and everything. It's very similar."
So Eddie stayed very carefully away from him
and doing all the things he had to do
and doing them right and so forth and so on.
But in the battle, he was a boat commander which meant that he
was the one that would line up all the boats in a row and so to
speak and make sure that they were ready to go in
and give them the word to go.
And then he went in, and he discovered that there were a lot
of wounded laying around and nobody was taking anybody off.
So he decides to sit there
and take command of his boat.
He sent another boat back out to the ship to tell the skipper
that he was staying there to make sure that men were picked
up that were wounded, were taken out
to the hospital ships and other ships as well.
So he did that for the three days,
and he was in one of the most dangerous parts
of the island right there at the beach.
And he could have been killed at any moment.
But he made sure that no boat
went back out to sea without the wounded in it.
And he probably saved the lives of many, many men.
The Marine Corps's awarded him
medals and what have you for that.
But at the time, the Marine Corps,
after the battle was over and they were writing up medals,
wrote one for Eddie to get—I don't know,
something like a Distinguished Service Cross or something—some
high Navy award for what he did.
Well, in the routine of things of that nature,
that recommendation because we were not his commanders,
would have to be approved by his commanding officer,
and he tore it up and threw it away.
There was no commendation,
no—nothing stating that one way or the other.
So anyway, the NAMs Museum out there in the west eventually got
him awarded a medal.
They wrote it up, and I think he got a bronze star
for what he did.
But that can be checked easily enough
to whatever it is, and it was good.
But he told me that one time he
came to Washington on business
and met an old friend
who had been on the ship with him
who was now a rear admiral.
The admiral said, "You know, I never knew much about
"what you did on the beach and how it went on.
Let's go to lunch. Tell me all about it."
So when they got through lunch and he
got through telling his story, he went back
to his hotel in tears.
And he called up the maitre d' of the hotel,
who happened to be a woman and whom he knew very well,
and asked if she'd come up and hold his hand
because he was crying because of what he was talking about.
And when he got up to make his talk
down there at the NAMs Museum,
he said, "You know, I was not a soldier
"or a sailor or a Marine.
I was just a civilian."
And he practically broke down in tears
there when he was talking about what he did
because of the emotions of that particular time.
I really enjoyed him when he was not in that mood.
I'll say that we stayed in contact through the years.
(Interviewer) What the—who filmed
the bodies washing on the surf there?
Was that you? (Hatch) No, that wasn't me.
That was one of the men.
To explain another thing.
I was shooting black and white 35mm.
(Hatch) And the film is made in color that you see,
but they tinted my black and white to blend in with the color
so there wouldn't be such a harsh contrast of going from
black and white to color, black and white, color, scene to scene.
Well, sometimes you can't tell which is which,
but I have pieced it out
so I would know in case somebody asked me.
A third of that film is mine.
And the rest of it is shot by the other kids.
(Interviewer) What do—when you're thinking about Tarawa now
over, well, seventy years now, seventy years this November—?
(Hatch) Yeah, seventy years this fall, yeah.
(Interviewer) What was—I mean, it was chaotic to say the least,
you know, as most battles are, especially
the second one you were in there, Iwo Jima.
But what do you think of Tarawa today?
It was kind of a harbinger for things to come I think.
(Hatch) Kind of what? (Interviewer) A harbinger
of things to come in the Pacific. (Hatch) Oh yeah. Yeah.
(Interviewer) What do you think? What do you think now?
(Hatch) Well, I don't know.
There are so many crazy people taking over governments out in
that general area that it would be hard to predict anything.
You take things in North Korea for example.
Mostly they think that the leader,
the honorable leader there, likes to threaten what he could
do, but they don't do it.
Or at least, they haven't done it which is good.
And of course it may be because they don't have the necessary
equipment that they should have to do that,
which in that case might be an atomic bomb.
And so I think that he has studied
outside of the Korean area.
He's been to Europe, I believe, or Great Britain.
So he knows what the outside world is.
And we can only hope that he can
put some of that knowledge to good use.
But then you have China worrying about an island that Japan had
taken over years and years and years ago and worry about that
when they're own country is suffering
from lack of food and a lack of a lot of other things.
I saw a film—I guess
it might have been Sixty Minutes last night—
yeah, that's what it was. Sixty Minutes.
It had a young man that had gotten away from a camp that
the Chinese had been running for years and years and years.
And he never knew anything existed outside that camp.
He was born in that camp.
And everybody in that camp were prisoners.
And it's an amazing thing.
And he's one of the few that's ever escaped,
and he never even knew anything
like what he saw existed in the world.
He thought everything was like it was in the camp.
He even ordered his mother and brother to be killed.
He had no emotions because there were no emotions.
But they had done something wrong,
and it was his responsibility in the camp rules to report them.
He had no emotional feelings about it.
He said, "I still don't to this day,
but I am sorry that I did it because it—"
He grew from the age of being born
up to about twenty-six or twenty-seven
without knowing anything outside in the world.
(Interviewer) When you're shooting—
we have a shot of you actually.
One of your cameramen took a shot of you.
You've got the camera up to your face. This is on Tarawa.
And I seem to remember a story
from when you down at the museum the last time.
You were wearing a white shirt.
>>Well— >>Where'd you get that shirt?
(Hatch) That was a Navy—that white shirt that I was wearing
was a Japanese Navy t-shirt.
After being on the island for three days,
there was no air conditioning.
It was there, but it was hot.
And running around carrying the gear, doing everything,
you perspired a lot. You were dirty.
And so we discovered
a little warehouse dug in the ground
where there were a lot of Japanese uniforms.
And I saw the t-shirts, and I thought, well,
there's enough likely to be in there to be large enough for me.
At that time, I was six foot and one and a half inches tall,
fairly broad shouldered, so forth and so on.
So we looked.
We pulled out t-shirts, and sure enough, there was a big one.
So I took my old one off, threw it away and put that one on,
wore that one until we went off the island.
I had a clean white shirt on.
It had a flap down the back,
a Navy flap like a Navy setup.
But that shot was a surprise
because—I've forgotten who shot
it now, but I was shooting the troops leaving the island.
They were getting ready to go off
and go down the pier to get in the boats.
And somebody yelled my name, and I turned around.
And I saw they had a camera on me, and I laughed at them.
That shot's been used a lot of times.
I've seen it a lot of times, but that's how it happened.
(Interviewer) There's another shot in there.
And I don't know if it's you or not,
but somebody's giving water to a kitten.
>>That's me. >>That is you? >>Yeah.
(Interviewer) I thought that was you, but I wasn't sure.
(Hatch) Kelly and I, were walking alongside
of a Japanese tank that was pretty badly damaged.
And I heard a sound from underneath the tank.
And I thought, I bet that's a Jap down there waiting to have
somebody poke their head in because the other end of the
tank was pretty well covered with sand.
And I said, "It might be dangerous."
We wouldn't look down there for a while.
And the sound sort of increased itself, and I said,
"I've got to figure out what that is."
And I took my flashlight, and very quickly,
as quick as you could do something like that,
turned it on down there. But I saw the eyes.
And the eyes were so small, I knew they weren't human.
And I said, "That's got to be an animal.
It's got to be a cat down there."
And I tried to get the
cat out, and she wouldn't come.
So I said, "I bet you ten to one she hasn't anything to drink
for a couple of days," because this was on the third day.
So there was a top of a coffee pot, Japanese coffee pot,
which was laying there in the sand.
And I took that, and right out of my canteen,
I poured the water and just stood there
on my knees holding it.
And sure enough, she smelled it, came out,
and sniffed a little bit more, and then started to drink.
And so I patted her,
and she would have had to be brought
there by one of the Japanese because kittens were not
indigenous to the island at all.
Anyway, I went to pick her up, but she
dashed back underneath again. And she wouldn't come out.
But then all of a sudden, she did come out for another drink.
By this time, I was away from the thing.
I had left it there with water in it.
And she ran out around, and Kelly
had my other camera, and he shot this picture.
She ran out around, danced around,
and then went back under the tank again.
That was home. It was safe.
You could imagine two or three days of nothing but heavy
firing, guns around you, things bouncing off of the tank maybe.
It must have been a mess.
But I couldn't get—I wanted to get her
to take her back aboard ship to get her out of there.
I didn't know what she'd have to eat or anything else,
but she wouldn't come out.
(Interviewer) You know that there's another shot,
and it's like a slow pan.
There's a dead Jap on the ground there,
and the camera shoots him, and then it comes up
to a bunch of Marines standing there.
Looked like they were in a chow line.
And they're just standing there,
and one guy's looking at the cameraman.
And I don't know who it is obviously.
He looks at the camera, looks at the dead Jap,
and he just looks back and he starts eating again.
Do you recall that shot or do you know what I'm talking about?
Do you remember that? >>No, that doesn't ring a bell.
I shot a number of shots of dead Japanese down on the other side
of the big,
you know, the thing that we took.
>>The blockhouse? >>Yeah, the blockhouse.
(Hatch) And there was one shot
with one of them had his arms
over the other one. And we called them the brothers.
But I think I remember
that shot that you're talking about
where the guys are standing on sort of a slight hill.
And they're looking down at the bodies.
Yeah, I shot that.
(Interviewer) There were Japanese bodies everywhere,
all over the island. (Hatch) Yeah, yeah, yeah.
The place began to smell like you can't believe it from them
being killed, and you couldn't pick them all up.
And when you're in a fighting mode, you've got to keep on fighting.
One of the best things I did, had nothing to do with a camera,
but I sat down on a hunk of sand to check my camera before I went
on the next assignment that I wanted to do.
And I cleaned it out good.
It had a little sand in it. I cleaned out the gate.
On the Eyemos, you had to open a gate,
and there was a very plain,
surfaced place where your film
would go through it and so forth and stop there
just for a second and take a picture and go.
And so anyway, I thought,
the sand is awfully hard. It was about like this.
So I scooped a bunch of it off and there was a box.
And what was the box? A box of Curran beer.
Well, up until this time, if you haven't heard this story,
we'd had trouble with water.
The Navy realized that the island
had no water on it to speak of.
And for 18,000 men to come aboard would need water.
So they took the five gallon gas tanks,
that are on Jeeps and trucks and what have you, cleaned them out,
washed them out, sterilized them,
painted them white inside and everything else,
and filled them up with water.
And there were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of those
things full of five gallons of water
to feed us while we were on the beach.
Well, when you drank that water,
the gasoline taste was still there.
They hadn't gotten rid of it.
It was strong, but it was strong enough that you could taste it,
and it damaged the water.
But you had to drink it because you didn't have any other water.
And so we had a joke that we created
was that if you drink
that water, don't stand next to a flame thrower and burp
because you're likely to go up with it.
And so anyway,
I opened a bottle of that— it was that old brown
bottle, you know, that snaps up kind of thing.
so I thought it might be tainted.
They may have poisoned it to think
that we'd find it and open it and drink it.
But it only—I figured it had been buried in the sand to keep
it cool because the sand, that island was so low that any sand
that you dig down into would be wet.
And so it would be cooler. Well, I took a gamble.
I took a little sip of it and drank it,
and I was still sitting up.
So I figured it was all right.
So then we poured some in canteens and it tasted so good,
it was so sweet in comparison to what we had been drinking.
And so there was a whole case of Curran beer,
about twelve bottles, I think. And so we reburied it.
We took out two bottles and reburied it.
And then when we went down to shoot on the line where the guys
were, I'd go down to the line and say, "Anybody want a beer?"
They said, "Will you stop this goddamn kidding?"
I said, "I'm not kidding." I drag out the bottle and say,
"Get your canteen out," and I'd pour this Curran beer.
And I had Curran beer all up and down the line.
And it was so good. And I kept it covered up.
I never uncovered it, let anybody else know where it was.
Eventually we used it all up.
[laughter] (Interviewer) Well, you get—you leave Tarawa,
and you guys, you go back—you went back to New Zealand?
>>No, we went to Hawaii. >>I was going to say,
you probably went to Hawaii.
(Hatch) The Army had promised our commanding general that he
would have a camp built on the big island
of Hawaii
for us to come into.
But the 8th Marines were the first group back.
They'd gotten aboard first, and they got back probably about a
good six or eight days before the rest of us.
And they went up to what they thought was going to be the good
camp off of the boat, all that was up there were floor boards
and flat tents.
[laughter] No kitchen. No galley. No anything.
Everything was supposed to have been done.
And they blamed that on General Richardson.
He was known as a rather unlikeable guy by everybody
including the Army. He was Army.
And he was a senior Army officer
and ran all the military efforts on Hawaii.
And so anyway, they had to build the camp.
They had to, quickly, before we got there.
Sure, there were other things to be done,
but you know power of several thousand men and no place
to live or whatever to do. It was really a mess.
But once they got up there and got settled up in Hawaii,
they really liked it. It was a good spot.
But I got called back directly after landing in Hawaii.
And I didn't get to enjoy the other Parker Ranch as it was
known as in those days or Camp Kamuela is the name we gave it
because that was the name of the little village
right alongside it, Kamuela.
The name Camp Tarawa was changed from later.
I don't know what it was.
(Interviewer) When did you start
putting together the film with the Marines?
(Hatch) Well, I did—the film was
edited basically by Warner Bros.
And the industry
was very good during the war because they
devoted any project
that the military or the government had
to do or wanted to do for film; they'd do it for free,
and in turn, would distribute it
to the theatrical usage that it was destined for.
Like if someone
of an administration organization
wanted to have a trailer made
to talk about the war, they would help make the trailer.
They would make it and put it out,
shoot it if there was any
shooting to be done, everything like that.
And so that's the way our films were made.
They made a great number of documentaries
of battles and things like that
and would send them to all the theatrical
motion picture houses in the country.
Now, they alternated times.
If Warner Bros.
made one this time, MGM would distribute for them.
Next time, Warner Bros would distribute and maybe one of the
theatrical outfits would make the films.
So they rotated that way so they all didn't have to.
But it just so happened that both Tarawa and Iwo Jima that I
was involved with were both done at Warner Bros.
So what was done was that Marines like Louie Hayward,
who was our photo officer for the 2nd Division,
he had been overseas with us in New Zealand
and had been in the battle.
He was there, and he did editing.
I think the assistant photo officer was also there.
He did some editing but not much.
And I was at headquarters
and put in to the fourth War Loan drive effort.
And I went out talking to people all around the country.
But when that was over, I wound up in Hollywood.
And they were still working on the film.
And I did a little bit on that, not much,
just in case there
was something that was out of place or something like that.
I'd check it.
That was about it.
And of course the fact that it got the academy award in 1945
for film that was actually shown in '44, it was pretty good.
(Interviewer) Did you get to go to—'45, no.
You'd have been in—hell, you were on Iwo Jima when they did that.
(Hatch) Not quite.
(Interviewer) Yeah, I was going to ask if you went to the ceremony.
(Hatch) The—no.
General Smith was the commanding general of the Pacific
at that time, but his office was in San Francisco.
So Twentieth Century Fox invited him down to the,
he and his wife and several other members of the staff,
down to the association get together, you know,
when they were handing out the awards.
And he went up and accepted it for the Marine Corps.
I have to change that.
So many writers would say, "I won the Academy Award."
And I didn't.
My film was a great help
insuring it
won the Academy Award, but I didn't win it.
The Marine Corps won it, and so.
(Interviewer) Well, let's just shift gears a little bit.
Let's talk about Iwo for a few minutes.
(Hatch) Yeah. (Interviewer) You're in Hawaii.
You get orders to the 5th Division.
When did you get orders to the 5th?
(Hatch) Well, I got orders to the 5th while I was
still at headquarters— (Interviewer) Ah, okay.
(Hatch) —and the fourth War Loan Drive.
When they tell you that things are getting to be over,
we're not going to use you anymore for this,
you go to your detailer and you say,
"Where are you sending me next?"
And they said, "We're sending you to Camp Pendleton.
"You're going to join the 5th Marine Division.
"They don't have a photo officer out there,
and they need one badly."
And so I said, " Well, thanks a heap."
So I went out to the division,
and in those days,
California, the West Coast,
was really something because you
couldn't find any place to live.
The place was really packed out there.
And you could find a place on base all right,
but who the hell wanted to stay on base, you know?
If you're getting read to go into war,
you want to go someplace else.
So anyway, my wife, at that time,
decided she wanted to come out
and be with me because we figured we'd be there
probably a month or two at Pendleton before we shipped out.
And so I said, okay, she could come on.
And I went up to the next town up
and went in and found out
the realtor told me that there isn't a single thing
available in town
unless you walk up and knock on every door and say,
"Is there any room?"
But that's what I did.
I went, in that town, and went up one street and down the
other, knocked on every door and said,
"Do you have a room available?
My wife is coming," and so forth and so on.
And of course, I was in Marine uniform,
so they knew who I was, and no luck at all.
I spent all day doing that.
That was up at Laguna Beach.
And I went back to the real estate office.
I was tired, and I sat down.
And a man walked in, and he said to the realtor, "We have luck.
I bought it today." And he's been trying to buy this one
place for about a week and a half and had been negotiating
the price with the owner.
And finally, they agreed that day.
And I walked up to him and I said—I was never one to stay
behind—and I said, "Are you going to rent it?"
And he said, "Yes."
I said, "You've got it." I wasn't even
worried about the price or anything else because my wife
was already on the train coming.
And what I didn't know was she was bringing another girl friend
with her.
And if they'd hit in—they'd have to stay in LA.
It would have been awful.
The only time I could see them would be the weekend.
So anyway, he takes me up to the place, and it was ideal.
And what it was, was a cottage that was built
in time for the 1922, 3, 4, 5, or 6, Olympics
in Hollywood and in Los Angeles.
They'd run out of space for the people coming
to be in the Olympics.
So they built this whole series
of two-bedroom cottages up there
strictly for the Olympics, overlooked the ocean, beautiful.
[phone ringing] Better kill that.
And those were strictly built for the Olympics.
They were very nice, and there was a large group of them.
As I said, they overlooked the ocean.
Quite a walk up the hill to get there,
but I could see where people would like it very much.
So I rented it from him and went to the train the day it was do
in because it was still several days trip across country,
picked up my wife and her friend.
And we—I had
to borrow a car from a friend because I didn't
have one at that time there.
While showing the place, it was very, very nice.
And they liked it very much and so did I.
We settled in.
And I think I was there for just about a month
at the camp before we shoved off.
And it was very nice living.
Actually, we moved out in town in Laguna
because my wife got a job
doing something, working in some kind of an industry.
And we found a room—
well, not a room but found several rooms in a house.
It was right across the street from a big fancy restaurant,
but I can't think of the name of it now,
that Laguna was known for that
sat there looking right over the ocean.
And the beach was right out in front of us.
Whenever I wasn't on duty, I
could go up there and go swimming.
Life was great for a while, but putting together—nobody in the
5th Division, with the exception of a few men,
had been in combat before.
So my main job was to teach the photographers that were there as
a division photo section how to operate.
When I reported in, I had a major and a captain senior
to me, and I was then, at that time, a master sergeant.
So I had applied for the warrant officer setup,
but didn't know whether I'd ever be approved for it.
And people didn't look on photography,
even in those later days, so to speak, of the war,
of being really anything important.
You sort of had to force your way into things
to get what you wanted done.
So anyway, I was teaching them and Obie Newcomb came in.
Newcomb had been a still photographer
at Tarawa and part
of the 2nd Division unit, and he had been
close with me pretty much.
We were sort of like a team of steroid (sic) movies
and what have you.
So he came him.
He had been on the talking tour as well.
And so
I was glad to have him because at least he knew what
these kids would be up against.
And I was able to get another man named Bill Genaust.
He was a staff sergeant who had been with the 4th division and
had been wounded.
And he'd been ordered to go back stateside after his
hospitalization at Aiea Hospital.
But he wanted to stay in combat.
That's the kind of a guy he was.
And so I was ordering some extra men
that I needed to join the division.
This was after—actually, this was after we got to Hawaii that
I made this requisition for the men,
and I got Genaust and a couple of others.
And they were combat trained, naturally,
and I had them help out all of the staff that was there.
And so Bill Genaust
was the type of guy that would constantly go
and do things, which was great.
And when we landed on Iwo, I had assigned all of the men to
organizations in the field.
And, once again, we were doing something different.
We were planning
with our men, certain groups of men,
to do nothing but tell a story, one story.
Yes, if something happened around them,
they could shoot that, but basically they were
stuck to telling one story.
And they were given to the troops that they were going to
tell a story on before they went aboard
ship and all that sort of thing.
And they covered the landings.
You may have seen a picture of a 75 going in aboard an LCVP with
the name on it—yeah, what was the name?
Well anyway, I'll think of it probably in a minute or so.
That man was just following
that artillery unit from start to finish,
and he stayed with it the whole time
and doing that with a medical unit.
I had another one doing it with a—
let's see, let's see, let's see.
I can't think of that third one, but it had to do with
electronics, telephones and things of that kind.
But we did that in that sense, but I also ordered all my men
to be very careful and report in
within every two to two and half
days to my command post so we could check their cameras.
I had a camera repairman with me.
And so we could see if there was any dirt
in the cameras and there wasn't a scratch
going down in the movie cameras and all that kind of stuff.
And so it was a big job
for them to do this because they had to walk
quite a distance in many instances,
but we had to protect the film.
But anyway, when the first flag went up on Iwo Jima,
everybody could see that something was up there.
But it was so small, it really wasn't
something identifiable in the real world.
And so my boss came to me and said—it was a lieutenant colonel
who was the head of intelligence—he said, "Norm,
"get a couple of men and put them up on the mountain top
because we'll get a bigger flag to put up there."
And I questioned him. I said, "Colonel, where in the name
of God are we going to get a bigger flag?"
I said, "There's still fighting
around the base of the mountain top."
And so he said, "Well, I'll get one.
They'll find one."
I said, "Well—" I'm thinking I mentioned
a Sunday flag which is a big flag
or some other flag similar to it.
And so anyway, I told him, I said, "I haven't got any men.
I don't have any way to get in touch with them.
Somebody may come in, but I don't know that I have anybody."
It just so happened that ten minutes to fifteen minutes
later, Bill Genaust and Bob Campbell, the still man, walked in.
And we went through the usual rigmarole
of checking the cameras and taking the old film,
giving them new film.
And so I told him,
I said, "You go back down there to the mountain."
And I said, " You go up to the top.
"But don't tell anybody why you're going up there because
"that flag may never show up.
"It's going to be luck if it does,
but I don't want to get anybody excited about a second flag."
So they said okay, and they headed back.
And as luck would have it, Joe Rosenthal had just come aboard
the island that morning.
He had been on the command ship,
and he'd come in with
Holland Mad Smith,
Holland M. Smith, a lieutenant general
who was a core commander and also,
the secretary of the navy was there at that time.
So when he got on the beach,
he looked around and said, "Well, that looks good.
"The mountain, maybe I can get some good pictures
from up there."
And so he walked his way over to the mountain.
And that's when he ran into my two guys,
and it just so happens that Bob Campbell and he had worked
on the same newspaper
in San Francisco and knew each other.
Their walk up the mountain top was quite.
There wasn't any shooting going on because the Marines had
pretty well nullified that.
And when they got up to the top, they were just taking down the
flag pole to put up a second flag, which had been found,
which we didn't know about, and they had
taken up there, which was a large flag.
They'd gotten it from an LST who was on the beach.
The skipper had given it to a lieutenant
who was looking for that and a number of other things.
So they were there just in time to shoot pictures.
Rosenthal built, very quickly, a little platform of rocks
so he could raise his height level.
He was only five feet one or two inches tall.
And so they all got into position,
and Bob Campbell was smart.
He got down to the right on a lower position on his knee.
And he got the first flag and the second flag crossing each
other, going up and coming down,
which is a big help in later days.
And everybody, of course, knows what Rosenthal shot,
and Bill and I shot the motion pictures of the new flag going up.
And so there's been a lot of controversy over the years
as to what really happened, but that's the way it was.
And it's amazing the scare
about the second flag by the battalion
that was involved in it was when the secretary of the Navy
put foot on the island, a rumor started,
and nobody knows for sure where or how,
that he might like to take
that first flag home with him
to fly in front of the Navy department.
So that never happened.
But nevertheless, the rumor got started
and go people scrambling
to take down that first flag because it was their flag.
They had carried it from Honolulu
on purpose to put up on that mountain top.
Now they didn't want somebody
to take it away from them and carry it back to Washington.
They wanted to keep it.
And a lieutenant aid to the battalion commander,
Chandler Johnson, lieutenant colonel,
overheard Johnson talking to the regimental commander,
who I think was Colonel Liversedge,
and all he heard was a one-way conversation.
But apparently, the colonel was telling the lieutenant colonel
that there's a good chance, maybe,
that the secretary of the Navy might want the flag.
So you'd better, if you want to keep it,
you'd better get it out of sight.
And so [phone ringing] —
(Interviewer) Back to the flag.
(Hatch) So based on that rumor,
a story has existed for years
that the reason that that flag was put up was because they
didn't want the—the second flag was put up—was they didn't want
the secretary of the Navy to take the first one away from them.
And I worked for that particular SECNAV for several weeks when he
first came into the Navy department as an assistant
secretary to the Navy chief.
And they always presented
Marines to new incoming officers
at that level to be assistants to them and that sort of thing.
I worked for him for a couple of weeks,
but then he thought I was too young.
He wanted somebody with a lot of stripes on his arms
and navigate his way around.
But I noted that he took down
everything that he did during the day.
He made notes of it. He kept a record of it.
And so I did some research after the war when I was working
at the department of defense
to see what he might have done along
that line to record
him requesting that flag.
Well, there was nothing in his records that showed
he had ever requested the flag.
Secondly, if he had wanted the flag,
he was with Holland Mad Smith.
Smith would have had to go to General Rocky,
who was a commanding general of the 5th Division
to say, "Hey, Rock.
"The SECNAV wants that flag.
Can you have one of your guys get it for me?"
General Rocky would have had to go to the regimental commander.
He in turn would have gone to Colonel Johnson,
the battalion commander, who would have had
to give up his flag.
None of that happened.
Nothing is written in the military setup.
Nothing is recorded that that ever happened,
and you know damn well that if it had happened,
there'd have been a record of that pathway
of things happening.
So I have an argument with that because the captain
who put the flag up there
is a colonel, who retired still sitting on the West Coast,
and he and I joust over this every time.
He believes his story is the right one that they wanted to
take the flag home, and that's why we got the second flag put up.
But the second flag was put up
because they wanted everybody to be able to see it.
They wanted the men up at the north part of the island,
they wanted the ships at sea to be able to see it.
They wanted everybody to see it because they thought it would be
a good influence on the troops.
(Interviewer) I interviewed a guy.
I know him very well actually. His name's Mike Murvosh.
He was in the 4th Marine Division, retired sergeant major.
And I think he was on Iwo,
and I asked him about the flag.
I always ask anybody who was on Iwo about the flag.
And I said, "Mike, did you see the flag?"
He said, "No. I saw it after."
He says, "I never saw it go up or anything."
I said, "The story is people were blowing
their horns and shooting their rifles in the air. "
And he said, "Yeah, yeah. I heard about all that."
I said, "Well, how come you didn't look?"
And he says, "I was too busy killing Japs,
and I didn't have time." [laughter]
(Hatch) Well, I've heard that story about the signals,
everybody jumping up and down.
But that was probably maybe a quarter a mile away from the
mountain top where my command post was.
I didn't hear much of anything.
I probably heard a couple of whistles or something like that.
There was a war going on, you know?
And if you jumped up, you gave away your position.
And so that's something you didn't do
very easily or very much.
But the first flag was kept with the organization.
Both flags were flying down at the Marine Corps Museum.
(Interviewer) Yeah, I've seen them.
(Hatch) And so there it is.
But those two stories persisted,
and I jokingly use the barbershop as an example.
I could be having a haircut, and hear the guy in the next chair
say, "That flag is a phony. The second flag is a phony.
It was put up to have a picture taken," or something like that.
I have to straighten him out that. It's been going on.
And our rivalry with the colonel,
the rivalry with colonel and the West Coast,
is not a vindictive one or anything like that,
but when the actor, Eastwood, was making those pictures,
you know, about Iwo and what have you.
He talked to the colonel about the flag and everything else.
Of course, he used the colonel's story.
So the colonel sent an e-mail in to a fellow that I know and
says, "How does Norm feel about that?"
(Interviewer) I know the colonel, Colonel Severance?
>>Oh, you know Severance? >>Uh-hunh (affirmative).
I've met him.
I've met him.
But Iwo [coughing] excuse me.
Iwo was one of the most filmed,
well-documented I should say,
battles of the war. (Hatch) Yeah.
(Interviewer) I mean, you guys had cameras all over the place.
(Hatch) Well, you figure there were three divisions.
And each division had at least thirty cameramen in a crew.
That's a mixture of movie and still.
And each one, as I said, we met at Pearl
prior to going in.
And the setup was so that
each one of us would do these four
stories and make sure that they had them
all completed from beginning to end.
And so
there was a good chance that we would have good things.
Now, to show you how we set the thing up,
there was a tremendous photo lab for still processing
set up in Guam.
And all the film, still film.
And the motion picture film could be picked up by an LCVP
that came by three or four times a day, swung along the beach,
with the great big words PRESS on the side of it.
And anybody that had anything with military or civilian that
they wanted to be forwarded in to their individual
headquarters, whatever it was, would be handled by that.
That would go out to the command ship,
and the command ship always had two floating aircraft hanging
off the stern of it.
So one of those would take off every evening loaded with
dispatches and other kids of things
plus the still photography. Not the motion.
We held the motion on the island.
And the written material from the press,
all of that stuff would be sent in.
And it would be, the still photos,
would be developed practically overnight.
And the next morning, they'd be in security review.
And if they were okay, they were given to the organization.
And all five of the people that worked for the news had their
electronic transmission capabilities set up there.
And so the minute they were handed their own pictures,
they were able to file them right away to New York
or Chicago or wherever, you know?
And so the motion pictures were held until D+8.
And there, the photo officer from the 4th Division,
Herb Schloshberg, took all the motion picture film in from the
1st, 2nd, 5th—
the 3rd, the 4th, and the 5th Divisions.
And I took all the films from D+8
to D+18 in
from all three divisions.
And the photo officer from the 3rd Division was left to take in
all the film that was left at the end of the war.
Now, the idea with that was to hopefully be able to have a film
edited and put together pretty nearly
close to the end of the battle.
Before that, all films came out
several months later after the battles
because the film went out
from different places and so forth and so on.
So this was all planned sitting at Pearl.
Now, we had a lieutenant commander,
Navy lieutenant commander, a Navy lieutenant.
And the Navy lieutenant was the son of the man who was
the principle advisor to the president.
I can't remember his name just off hand.
But he—
the two of them were very instrumental in making sure we
could get everything we needed and get it done.
And then they accompanied the film
into Hawaii and into
Honolulu—I mean, into Hollywood
and started the editing.
And once more, it was done at Warner Bros.
And so I later came in and helped edit on the Warner Bros.
thing because when I brought my film in,
we showed it to the joint staff.
It was processed by Kodak at Hawaii
at their lab which was under Navy control.
And then the Navy guys looked at it,
the admirals and what have you.
And then I carried it on into Washington.
And the joint staff looked at it there,
and then I took it to Hollywood so that
they could start to edit it.
And that's the way it ran in those days, a lot of traveling.
And you know, to travel across country by air
took over twelve hours.
[laughter] (Interviewer) That's a long way, a long flight.
(Hatch) Yeah. It is.
And, you know coming in, I used to marvel at the fact that there
was one small air base just ahead of Hawaii when you came in.
And there were Army guys stationed on it.
And they all went crazy practically because it was so
small, and they had to take them off
all the time and put other people on.
But they could navigate in the air and find that little piece
of ground, but when you looked down on it, it was that big, you know?
And you're going to go land on it to refuel?
[laughter] (Interviewer) Sheesh.
Well, thinking about it now, sixty—eight years after Iwo,
comparing Iwo and Tarawa, what was
more impressive events in your mind between the two?
(Hatch) Well, of course—
(Interviewer) I mean, they're both bloody as hell.
(Hatch) Yeah.
The thing with Tarawa—or Iwo rather—is that we had more
casualties than the enemy did.
That's also a first in fighting.
Usually when you go into fight somebody and you win,
they lose more than you do.
But we lost more than they did.
They were so well dug in on the northern end of the island,
it was a hillside, and they had dug into the hillside so that
they were a little bit above where you'd be walking necessarily.
And so what we did is we didn't fight them.
We closed them up,
putting shells in there and what have you and closed them all up.
There's a lot of dead Japanese in those things.
But I've been at meetings with the Japanese team that is
accredited with having to get all of their war dead just like
we have people who do the same thing that are
on these various islands.
They have a very strong religious set up
in Japan on the bearing of people
and how it should be done, all that sort of thing.
So I've told them in one particular meeting,
an earlier meeting, that I was probably—I was sure that
probably a lot of Japanese may have been buried under that main
airstrip that the US Air Force built several years after the
battle too because the fields that were there,
Motoyama number one, two, and three,
were not strong enough for the big aircraft.
So they tore all those up and built this one great big one
that goes across the island, and I'll bet you ten to one,
they dug up an awful lot of graves
and turned over a lot of bones and what have you.
And nobody will ever know what's underneath that airfield unless
somebody neutralizes that.
There wasn't anything much on the island that could support
you in fighting.
For example, there were no trees or no things that we had been
accustomed to in the Pacific war in general.
There was nothing but ash from the explosions in the
mountaintop and sand and so forth and so on.
They didn't have a very large water content either,
which was bad.
The water that they did have, I know the Seabees dug a great big
hole not too far from where I had my command post.
And they supplied me with hot water coming right out of the
ground itself.
And so that was great, but they ran a pipe down
to my photo setup,
and we had hot and cold water running in there.
But anyway,
when you're in a battle like that
and with that many people, you have a job
like I had which was to run an organization.
You don't get to travel around very much,
don't get really to see what goes on.
In fact, I say things shot by photographers in the 3rd and 4th
Divisions that I never knew existed really.
And so it's really strange.
And of course, I had learned one thing early on with the
Japanese, and that is they had a very definite rule to not let
—to not fight anybody wanting to get on the beach,
but to wait until they go on the beach.
And then they would kill everybody and do it that way.
So you could walk onto the beach on the first wave,
a series of first waves without anybody shooting at you.
And that's what I did.
I made damn sure I was always in the first wave
so I wouldn't get killed afterwards.
I took some pictures of a group of guys walking up the hill.
They were going up towards Motoyama number one,
looking like it was a Sunday afternoon stroll carrying their
rifles in their hands.
I think one had it over his shoulder.
And I thought that was typical. And so it was so quiet.
And Obie Newcomb came ashore with me, and I said, "Obie, look.
I want you to walk backwards and I'll walk frontwards."
I said, "I don't want anybody
"coming out of a hole in the ground and shooting me in the back,
and I'll make sure they don't shoot you in the back."
So that's the way we went all the way up to where we were going.
And to show you how it was, in the staff meeting,
when they talked about where the command post was going to be up
at generally the end of Motoyama number one.
They said it'd probably take the better part of a day and maybe
part of two days to get up there because it was a good distance.
I was up there in over thirty minutes.
So, you know, we just couldn't believe it.
But then the next guys coming to shore caught it.
I'll never forget one man, the beach master.
He worked day and night.
He had to because ships were coming in,
that is landing craft, were coming in at night.
Supplies were coming in all day and everything else.
And he had a tremendous output at the beach,
and he was on a hailer, a loud hailer.
And you could hear them all night long ordering ships to
move over here, move there, come on in, or do this or do that.
And I often wondered if he ever got recognized for what he did.
Once you were in and placed in a spot like I was,
you just didn't get to see much of what was going on
and it's unfortunate.
I almost got myself caught into a bad spot.
One time, I had not heard from one of my guys for over two days.
Well, I decided to go out and look for him.
I knew what unit he was with, naturally,
and so I had a good idea of where they were.
And they were up north of where I was.
So I headed that way.
All of a sudden, I discovered I was all alone.
There wasn't anybody around me and whatever,
but there was a tank.
So I go up to the tank, and they have their radios attached to
the stern of them.
I took off the telephone thing there,
and I talked to the tank commander.
And I said, "Where the hell am I?"
He says, "You're in a dangerous spot." I said, "Why?"
He said, "You see that mountain
or that hill that looks like a mountain?"
I said, "Yes." He said, "You watch it a short time,
"a door will open that look like a side of the hill.
"And a gun will poke itself out
"and will shoot in this direction or over us.
"And I'm going to blast it as soon as it opens up.
"But the minute I do, machine guns
all around that hillside are going to open up,
and you're going to be right in the middle of it.
So you'd better get the hell out of here."
I said, "I agree with you completely," and I hung up.
And I asked them where the unit was, if he knew.
He said, "Yeah, I know.
"It's about twenty-five or thirty yards
over that way on the right-hand side."
And so I did, I got over there and contacted
the group and finally found the guy I was looking for.
But I saw him shoot. And that's exactly what he did.
They had the side of the mountain so well decorated that
it looked like it was real, you know.
And the camouflage was great, and it just slides across.
And when it did, a gun came out, and bang!
He hit it dead, but after that,
every machine gun in the area went up.
(Interviewer) So how long where you on Iwo for grand total?
>>Well, D+18. >>You were there eighteen days?
(Hatch) In fact, I flew off with the first aircraft
that flew off carrying people.
And it was a DC-4 I think.
The government didn't allow
the aircraft—not the aircraft but
the airlines—to have anything newer than the DC-2 because they
needed them all, for all the aircraft there were made,
for using them in the WWII effort.
And so you flew across the country in a DC-2.
That's why it was so slow.
And so that was it.
(Interviewer) Well, when you got back to the states,
that was your, obviously, your last combat assignment.
(Hatch) Well, not quite.
After the film was made
and, once again, I came back to the states.
I mean, I came back to Washington to see my wife.
I had time off and what have you.
Then I went into headquarters and saw the guy that would
allocate where I'd go next.
And I said, "What have you got for me?"
By that time, I was pretty much the senior photo officer in the
Marine Corps, combat or otherwise and so forth and so on.
And so I figured I was either going to go to Pendleton or
Quantico because we had two complete studios there equal
to anything that anybody had in Hollywood
for making training films.
And so he said, "I'm going to fly you back to the 2nd Division
for the invasion of Japan."
I said, "Thank you. You are a nice friend.
"I've gone through two of the worst battles going yet,
and yet you're setting me up for the worst one of them all."
And he said, "Well, there isn't anybody else.
Everybody else is assigned, and that's where you're going."
So I joined the 2nd Division.
I went back—2nd Division was at Camp Tarawa at that time.
And so I joined them there.
And we—let's see, let's see, let's see—I was in Pearl Harbor
planning with some of the other people how we were going to
cover because all six divisions
were involved, and they were in different places,
you know, and so forth and so on.
And the 2nd Division had Nagasaki,
and the 5th Division, my old unit, had Sasebo.
And so we're all planning how we're going to do this,
and how we're going to cover the thing an so forth and so on.
And I was in a movie theater, open-air movie theater,
in the Navy yard one evening during a very good film that had
a lot of suspense
and all kinds of shooting going on and everything else.
We hadn't gotten enough of it. You know how those things go.
And all of a sudden, the projector cut off.
Now that would happen damn near everywhere in the Pacific that
we ever settled out where we had projectors that's fail.
Sometimes they'd run off the reel or it would do something goofy.
You'd always have to yell at the projectionist.
Well, this time we yelled at the projectionist,
"Turn the goddamn thing back on!
Turn it on. We want to see it."
And he came on the loud speaker and he said,
"I've told to inform you that an atomic bomb has been dropped
on Hiroshima." Dead silence.
What the hell is he talking about? "So what?
Turn the damn projector back on."
We didn't know what an
atomic bomb was.
It was still a secret and a well-kept secret.
And so he turned the projector
back on, and I saw the rest of the film.
But the next day going into work,
the plan how to take these Japanese places,
we discovered we were going to occupy them.
We were going to have to take them.
So it changed the whole operation completely
and thankfully.
I wasn't looking forward to going into Japan as a fighting force.
So we went in, and the thing that we had to do when we went
in there was basically find all their military equipment,
all of their military positions for their big guns and things of
that nature, and invalidate them so that they couldn't be used.
We photographed that being done.
I was the first one off the ship when we docked in Nagasaki Harbor.
Beautiful harbor.
Coming from harbor country, I could appreciate that.
But it showed the devastation that the atomic bomb had done on
everything that was next to the waterfront except when I stepped
off the ship and walked a few feet,
I found the office building that handled all the incoming and
outgoing people and groceries and things of that nature.
And it was a three-story building,
and it was still intact except for the w