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First Name: William

Last Name: Genaust


Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Homer

Date of Birth:

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served:
William Homer Genaust

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


William Homer Genaust
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps

William Homer Genaust was born in 1907 in Pipestone, MN.

Genaust was a U.S. Marine Combat Photographer assigned to the Island of Iwo Jima. On the 5th day of the battle, the morning of 23 February 1945, Genaust, Marine still photographer Bob Campbell, and AP photographer Joe Rosenthal had made it through bullets and bombings to the base of Mt. Suribachi. The trio wanted to be there when the flag was raised at the summit but were told by another photographer coming down from the mountain that the flag had already been raised. These brave men still thought it would be worth climbing to the summit for a picture. When they reached the top, they found Marines preparing a larger second flag to be flown. This was it - they would get their picture.

Genaust, Campbell and Rosenthal positioned themselves for the picture. Rosenthal took his still picture at the mid-point of the raising of the flag. Genaust kept his camera running from start to finish of the flag raising, but wasn't quite sure if he had gotten the whole sequence.

The pictures were flown to Guam. Rosenthal's picture became an instant worldwide sensation, winning him a Pulitzer Prize. Genaust's motion picture took longer to develop but, once developed, it showed the whole sequence of the flag raising from start to finish and was shown in movie houses throughout the U.S. It would be many years before it became publicly known that Genaust was the one who took the actual film footage of this historic event because of a rule that allowed film to be distributed without a photo credit.

On 4 March 1945, just nine days after the flag raising, Genaust was helping the Marines capture Hill 362A. Upon hearing what was believed to be a wounded Marine calling for help from a cave, Genaust and another Marine entered the cave. When Genaust turned on his flashlight, the Japanese hiding in the cave opened fire, killing the two Marines instantly. Other Marines fired into the cave with flamethrowers but were unable to get the bodies of the two Marines out before bulldozing the cave shut to prevent any Japanese from escaping.

Efforts have been made, and are still being made, to recover the body of Staff Sergeant Bill Genaust and the other Marine. There is a memorial marker near Hill 362A by the area where Genaust's body lays that reads, "Sgt. William Homer Genaust Marine Combat Cameraman Shot Historic Movie of Flag Raising Won Bronze Star Killed in Action, Mar. 4, 1945 Age 38."

Genaust's family once lived in Edgewood, IL. In memory, his name was placed on the Memorial Wall at American Legion Post

Honoree ID: 2545   Created by: MHOH




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