Bill Genaust

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William Homer "Bill" Genaust (1907 – March 4, 1945) was a United States Marine Corps sergeant who served as a war photographer in World War II, first in the battle of Saipan, then the battle of Iwo Jima, where he was killed in action. He is most known for photographing the second American Flag Raising on top of Mount Suribachi (Iwo Jima) in color, using a 16 millimeter motion picture camera.[1]

World War II[edit]

US Marine Corps[edit]

Raising the flag on Iwo Jima[edit]

A portion of the color film shot by Bill Genaust, excerpted from the 1945 "Carriers Hit Tokyo" newsreel

Sgt. Genaust was assigned as a Marine Corps still photographer to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division for the Battle of Iwo Jima which began on February 19, 1945. On February 23, 1945, Marine photographers Genaust and Pfc. Bob Campbell and Associated Press (AP) photographer Joe Rosenthal, climbed to the top of Mount Suribachi after a 40-man patrol from Third Platoon, Company E, climbed and secured the top of the summit and raised a small American flag attached to a pipe about 10:30 a.m. Around noon, the American flag and pipe was replaced by a larger American flag on a heavier and longer pipe that was visible from any point on the island.[1] Genaust with his motion picture camera stood near Rosenthal as the larger flag and pipe was hoisted by five Marines and a Navy corpsman of Company E, simultaneous with the lowering of the smaller flag and flag pipe.[1]

Genaust's film briefly captures the infantrymen getting in place to raise the larger flag, the raising and securing of the larger flag, and a group shot of members of the Second and Third Platoons of E Company posing under the larger flag on mount Suribachi. Similar still photographs were taken by Rosenthal and Pfc. Campbell during this action.[2] Genaust's film also captures other Marines, one of whom gazes up at the larger flag. These Marines are not visible in Rosenthal's famous photograph.


Genaust and another Marine were killed on March 4, 1945 by enemy small arms fire after they entered a darkened cave on Hill 362A located on the northwest corner of Iwo Jima. He had volunteered to use his flashlight or camera light in the cave. The cave mouth was covered over by bulldozing equipment, and despite renewed search efforts in 2007, his and the other Marine's body have never been recovered.[3][4] Genaust is among 250 missing on Iwo Jima although most of those Americans were lost at sea.

Military awards[edit]

Genaust received the following military awards and decorations:

Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"
Gold star
Purple Heart Medal with one 516 gold star
(Saipan & Iwo Jima)
Combat Action Ribbon[5]
Presidential Unit Citation
(Iwo Jima)
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two 316 bronze starss
(Saipan & Iwo Jima)
World War II Victory Medal

Sergeant Genaust Award[edit]

The Sergeant William Genaust Award is presented each year by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, one of a series of awards to both Marines and civilian community members recognizing their work in advancing and preserving Marine Corps history. It is given for a documentary and short subject (15 minutes or less) dealing creatively with U.S. Marine Corps heritage or Marine Corps life.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Albee, Parker Bishop, Jr. (1995). Shadow of Suribachi: Raising the Flags on Iwo Jima. Praeger Publishers. pp. 48, 58. ISBN 0-275-95063-8. 
  2. ^ Albee, Parker Bishop, Jr. (1995). Shadow of Suribachi: Raising the Flags on Iwo Jima. Praeger Publishers. pp. 61–65. ISBN 0-275-95063-8. 
  3. ^ Albee, Parker Bishop, Jr. (1995). Shadow of Suribachi: Raising the Flags on Iwo Jima. Praeger Publishers. p. 70. ISBN 0-275-95063-8. 
  4. ^ "Team Find Two Possible Sites in Search for Remains of Marine From Iwo Jima Flag-Raising". Fox News. June 27, 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 
  5. ^ Combat Action Ribbon (1969): Retroactive from December 7, 1941: Public Law 106-65, October 5, 1999, 113 STAT 508, Sec. 564

External links[edit]