National Geographic : 1950 Nov
670 National Geographic Photographer John E. Fletcher "If It Wasn't Rugged, It Wouldn't Be the Marine Corps!" Truth of the saying dawns early on recruits like these at Parris Island. Wearing gas masks and holding bayoneted rifles, they charge through a smoke screen against an imaginary foe. After ten rigorous weeks at boot camp, young Leathernecks are ready for assignment to ship or shore stations (page 660). raphers many times helped their buddies beat back the foe. There was Cpl. Cyrus P. Col lings, with a raider battalion spearheading our offensive in New Georgia islands. He took a picture of an incoming Jap, then set down his camera, grabbed his rifle, and shot the Jap. Recruited mostly from the ranks of news paper photographers, these men knew all about making pictures of ball players sliding into second base, chorus cuties showing their knees and waving divorce decrees, burning buildings, or politicians making speeches. Others had run commercial studios or made newsreel shorts. In the Pacific they had to snap their models first, then kill 'em. They dug foxholes for darkrooms, used empty beer bottles to hold chemicals, and sausage cans as develop ing tanks. Two photographers were killed when Capt. Louis Hayward, a movie star, led men of the Second Division's photo unit in the assault on Tarawa.* They worked from Higgins boats, foxholes, treetops, and from behind machine-gun crews-but they got 900 useful pictures and 5,000 feet of revealing movies. In this fight T/Sgt. Norman Hatch rode in on the engine hatch of a landing craft. Some 400 yards offshore the boat rammed a coral reef, and everybody had to jump over board and wade ashore. Five were killed. His 35-mm. camera clutched in one hand, held high above water, and his rifle in the other, it took Hatch 15 minutes to make the "longest walk of his life." Jap bullets zipped about him; ashore, he helped with the shooting, then began grinding more pictures from behind a sea wall. Sand, water, and flying debris jammed his camera. Heat melted the emulsion on his film, so he buried the rest of it to keep it cool for future use. Forward with the Flame Throwers With Hatch was Sgt. Obie E. Newcomb, Jr. (now a warrant officer). Together they pushed ahead with the flame throwers. From behind a log they kept picturing the attack. Two slain Marines fell on them, temporarily putting their cameras out of order. Again they fired their rifles till they got hot. * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Gilbert Islands in the Wake of Battle," by W. Robert Moore, February, 1945; "War Finds Its Way to Gilbert Islands," by Sir Arthur Grimble, January, 1943; and "American Pathfinders in the Pacific," by William H. Nicholas, May, 1946.