The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Norman Hatch
 

"The minute something starts to happen, your training with a camera tells you you’re there to take pictures, so you look for the pictures to take." (Video Interview, 34:23)

   Norman Hatch
Image of Norman Hatch
Norman Hatch [5/2007]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: 2nd Marine Division; 5th Marine Division
Service Location: Washington, DC; Tarawa Atoll (Gilbert Islands); Iwo Jima; Pacific Theater
Rank: Major
View Full Description

Enlisting in the Marine Corps after rejection from the Navy, Staff Sergeant Norman Hatch applied to photo school three times with no success. A lucky break finally allowed him to train with the “March of Time” newsreel photographers, who taught him to use his motion picture camera to tell a story. By 1943, he was in the Pacific Theater, filming the Battle of Tarawa. One of the bloodiest of the war, the invasion lasted for three days; Hatch landed on the island with his fellow Marines, and kept his camera rolling throughout the intense action. His footage of the invasion, "With the Marines at Tarawa," went on to win the 1944 Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview  
Download: video (43 min.)
More like this
»Military Photographers: Framing the Shot
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Enlisting in Marine Corps; seeing an advertisement on the base bulletin board for photographer training given by the "March of Time" newsreel company; applying multiple times; finally getting a lucky break and being accepted into the program. (07:40) Learning by osmosis from professional cameramen; being taught the nitty-gritty tricks of the trade. (03:17) Build up to photographing of invasion of Tarawa; daily photography routine; responsible for embedding photographers in particular units; arranged for photographers to start working with units two weeks before battle; the Captain of the unit he served with was reticent to take on a “Hollywood photographer”; had to prove his worth in battle. (04:40)
Luck and training needed for good combat photography; his greatest accomplishment in combat photography; taking the first footage to depict enemy forces (Americans and Japanese) in the same frame. (01:56)  
  
 
Home » Norman Hatch
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us