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15th Jul 2021


Norm Hatch USMC Combat Cinemaphotographer

Posted on 27 July, 2014 by in , ,

Hey Folks,

I  want to take a few minutes to tell you that I have just completed a two hour DVD interview with a man who is very well known for what he did during WW II.  His name is Norm Hatch  he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1940.  Norm was a regular enlisted Marine who over a two year period put himself in a position to make combat movies.   He made film of two of the Marine Corps most vicious battles.   The first was on 20 Nov. 1943 in the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific.  The battle was for the Island of Betio but commonly known as the Battle of Tarawa.  It lasted three days with horrible loss of life of both the Japanese and the Marines who took the island from the Japanese Naval force (their Marine’s).  About 4,800 slain Japanese and about 1,000 Marine’s.   This was the first full frontal assault on a fortified island.  The famous actor named Eddie Albert was in the Navy on a small landing boat.  He helped save many wounded Marines.  Eddie was in the TV show “Green Acres” in the late 60’s.  Norm knew him later after the war.  Norm told me that if you look at any movies of  the battle of Tarawa  about one third of all footage was shot by him.   A statement that he made later about the battle was,  the brave men shot the Japanese, the Damn Fools shot the movies of the battle.   The Japanese Admiral Shibazaki who was in charge at Tarawa said it would talk 1 million men 100 years to take Tarawa.  It took 18,000 men of the 2nd Marine Division three days to take complete control of the island.  Of the roughly 4,500 Japanese troops only 129 of them were taken prisoner.   I have interviewed two men who were there they told me the odor was overwhelming and the Island being only two degrees above the equator he said you could smell the death from four miles out to sea.  There were about 5,500 bodies on one square mile of island with the temperature being over 100 degrees.

On Feb. 19th 1945 Norm landed very early on the first day of the battle of Iwo Jima.  By this time he was in charge of a group of Marine combat cinemaphotographers who  shot all of the film of the 36 day battle that left over 20,ooo Japanese dead and 7,000 Marine’s dead on a eight square mile island in the Pacific.  I also lost a cousin who was in the Navy named Max Reed  was aboard the  Aircraft Carrier, Bismark Sea.   The loss of life on the Bismark Sea lost about 300 men from her crew to two Kamikazi attacks on the 21 of November 1945.   Norm also met many of the well known Marine officers from WW II since he had such a different job from his fellow Marines.  He knew Maj. General Merritt Edson, later General Lew Walt,  Gen. Julian Smith the commander of the 2nd Marine Division, later Commandant David Shoup.

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