Friday, June 22, 2007

US Srarch Team On Iwo Jima For Sgt Bill Genaust - iwo Flag Raising

US search team on Iwo Jima looking for Marine who filmed iconic flag-raising
Associated Press via Sun Media ^ | 2007-06-22 | Eric Talmadge

Posted on 06/22/2007 5:11:52 AM EDT by Clive

TOKYO (AP) - A U.S. search team on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima is zeroing in on a cave where a Marine combat photographer who filmed the iconic flag-raising 62 years ago is believed to have been killed in battle nine days later, officials told The Associated Press Friday.

The seven-member search team is looking for the remains of Sgt. William H. Genaust, who was killed in action after filming the flag-raising atop Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi. The team is also searching for other U.S. troops killed in the battle - one of the fiercest and most symbolic of Second World War .

The team is the first from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting office, which is headquartered on Hickam Air Force Base on Hawaii, to conduct a search on Iwo Jima since 1948, when most of the American remains were recovered. The island was occupied by the United States after Japan's 1945 surrender, and returned to Japanese jurisdiction in 1968.

"The team is finding caves that have been cleaned out, and some that have collapsed," JPAC spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Brown told the AP.

Brown said the team is looking for as many American remains as it can find, including those of Genaust.

He said 88,000 U.S. service members are missing from Second World War , including about 250 from the Iwo Jima campaign.

Brown said the search is a preliminary one, and that if a high probability of recovering remains is determined, a full recovery team will be sent in.

"Our motto is 'until they are home,"' Brown said. "'No man left behind' is a promise made to every individual who raises his hand."

Genaust, a combat photographer with the 28th Marines, used a movie camera to film the raising of the flag atop Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. He stood just feet away from AP photographer Joe Rosenthal, whose photograph of the moment won a Pulitzer Prize and came to symbolize the Pacific War and the struggle of the U.S. forces to capture the tiny island, a turning point in the war with Japan.

Genaust didn't live to see the end of the battle.

Johnnie Webb, a civilian official with JPAC, said Genaust died nine days later when he was hit by machine-gun fire as he was assisting fellow Marines secure a cave.

Iwo Jima was officially taken on March 26, 1945, after 31-day battle that pitted some 100,000 U.S. troops against 21,200 Japanese. All told, 6,821 Americans were killed and nearly 22,000 injured - the highest percentage of casualties in any Pacific battle.

Only 1,033 Japanese survived.

Many of the missing Marines were lost at sea, meaning the chances of recovering their remains are slim. But many also were killed in caves or buried by explosions, and Brown said they are optimistic that the current search for Genaust and other servicemen will prove useful.

"We are looking at several caves," he said. "'We are looking for a number of service members, including Genaust. We have maps dating back to Second World War and even GPS locations. So far, everything seems to be where it should be."

Accounts of Genaust's death vary, but he was believed to have been killed in or near a cave on "Hill 362A."

On March 4, 1945, Marines were securing the cave, and are believed to have asked Genaust to use his movie camera light to illuminate their way. He volunteered to shine the light in the cave himself, and when he did he was killed by enemy fire. The cave was secured after a gunfight, and its entrance sealed.

Genaust was 38 when he died.

"We decided that the only way to determine if his remains were there was to work on the ground," Webb said. "We believe his remains may be in there, along with the remains of the Japanese."

Separately, Japan on Monday returned to using the prewar name for Iwo Jima at the urging of its original inhabitants, who want to reclaim an identity they say has been hijacked by high-profile movies like Clint Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima."
The new name, Iwo To, was adopted by the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute in consultation with Japan's coast guard.

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