Centennial Shoutout from Norm Hatch
Major Norm Hatch joined the Marine Corps in 1939 and, after boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., was assigned to Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., to be an English instructor in the Marine Corps Institute and work on the Leatherneck Magazine staff. Leatherneck was published by the U.S. Marine Corps from 1917 until 1972. Recognizing the potential of cinematography in telling the Marine Corps story, he requested to attend training in New York City at the “The March of Time,” a world leader in the use of film for news reporting.
Hatch was later ordered to the Second Marine Division where he helped create the film section prior to deployment to the South Pacific at the beginning of World War II. His footage, and that shot by his Marines at Tarawa, became the Academy Award-winning Best Short Film Documentary, “With The Marines At Tarawa.”
Hatch was subsequently ordered to the Fifth Marine Division, where, as a warrant officer, he was assigned as the division photo officer. Landing on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945, his photographers and one of his cinematographers were atop Mount Suribachi for the flags being raised on Feb. 23, 1945. One of his cinematographers, Sgt William Genaust, shot the iconic film of the second flag raising atop Mount Suribachi on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima. He was returned to Washington, D.C., on priority air and assisted in obtaining the Marine Corps’ rights to the use of the famous Associated Press photo by Joe Rosenthal of the second flag raising on Mt. Suribachi.
While he left active duty in September 1946, he remained in the Marine Corps Reserve, eventually retiring as a major in 1981. He joined the Department of Defense in July 1956, retiring in January 1979 while chief of the Audio-Visual Division, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Among his duties at DoD was to act as technical advisor on military movies, one of which was the 1970, “Tora, Tora, Tora,” a film about the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.
Today, Maj Norm Hatch is frequently seen on TV programs on the “Military Channel” and the “History Channel,” and often quoted in newspapers and on television news programs. We here at Leatherneck are proud to point to Norm as our most senior staff member.