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The Man We Left Behind

October 4, 1999



We learn something new every day, or so they say. As a Marine, I considered myself well versed on the Iwo Jima operation and the famous flag raising, etc. that took place there on February 23, 1945. Many of the American public still do not know that there were actually two flag raisings that day, not just one; twelve flag raisers, not just six; several photographs and a motion-picture footage, not just one. And, today, only one of those twelve flag raisers remains alive, his name is Charles W. Lindberg. Most Marines, however, do know these things. And we know, most of us, the names of both the first and the second flag raisers, as well as the story of how it all came about.

And to a lesser extent some of us remember the names of those who photographed the flag raisings. Their names were Rosenthal, Lowery, Hipple, Campbell, and Genaust, etc. This little known story is about one of those Marine photographers, Sgt William Genaust USMC.

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Mr. Frank Clynes, which expanded my knowledge of the events associated with the Iwo Jima operation, as follows.

The Man We Left Behind

Dear Sir,

I would like to seek your support in having the Navy Cross

awarded posthumously to Marine Corps Sergeant Bill Genaust. He was recommended for this medal by Lt. Colonel Donald Dickson USMC some fifty-four years ago, but it somehow slipped through the cracks of history. The recommendation was for action during the battle of Saipan. His heroic courage was detailed in a hand written letter from Colonel Dickson to Bill Genaust’s widow, which explained

in detail why he recommended Bill for the second highest award in the Marine Corps.

Bill Genaust’s story did not end on Saipan. His name and deeds

are well known to students of American history. He is the same Bill

Genaust who later climbed Mt. Suribachi and captured on motion picture film, the famous Flag Raising on Iwo Jima.

The newsreels of the day brought this historic flag raising to

millions of Americans in movie theaters all across the country, but Bill never lived to see his own pictures. He was killed in action just nine days after the flag was raised. His amazing story was told in the book “Immortal Images” by Tedd Thomey.

“Who will stand at either hand and guard the bridge with me?”

From the time of Horatius even unto the present, men of outstanding courage and character have always been there, to defend freedom against the forces of tyranny – often with little recognition or reward. Bill Genaust was such a man.

The Marines pride themselves in never leaving anyone behind, but

Genaust is still there… on Iwo Jima. When the USMC removed the bodies of those honored dead from the island for burial in national cemeteries, his was not among them. He and a comrade had entered a cave to flush out the enemy and were killed by a squad of Japanese hidden inside. The Marines hit the cave with a flame thrower and then blew up the entrance. He still lies there today, in an unmarked grave.

Combat photographers go into battle to capture on film the

heroism of others, only to die and lie forgotten in their own. Tedd Thomey did not forget him, nor should we. Today, in the age of “what’s in it for me”, America desperately needs to pause and to remember — that once there were giants…

Go tell Bill Genaust that we’re coming back for him.

“And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day

when I make up my jewels.” —– Malachi 3:17

ps: If you can help me find Lt. Col. Donald L. Dickson USMC,

that would be very helpful. The USMC has informed me they will follow through with the posthumous Navy Cross award if Lt. Dickson would resubmit his recommendation.

via The Man We Left Behind.

via The Man We Left Behind.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 25, 2015 at 5:16 am
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