Tuesday, July 03, 2007

UPDATE: The Sgt Bill Genaust Story - The Man We Left Behind...

UPDATE: The Sgt Bill Genaust USMC Story

The following is from an e-mail sent by Frank Clynes on 3 July 2007

The GyG website mentioned is...
The Man We left Behind

Considering the present search on Iwo Jima for the remains of Sgt Genaust, etc., this will serve as an update to "The Man We Left Behind" (above).

My thanks, Well Done!, and a hearty Semper Fidelis to both Mr. Clynes and Mr. Bolus, without whom the events we are now witnessing regarding the Bill Genaust story likely would not have occurred.
Dick Gaines
In 1999 I wrote a short article about Sgt. Bill Genaust for a Marine Corps website called "Gunny G's Globe and Anchor". It's sponsored by Dick Gaines, then of Rochester, NY, a retired Marine . His blog is read by millions of Marines all over the world. My article was called, "The Man we Left Behind."

In the book "Immortal Images" by Tedd Thomey, I learned that Genaust had shot the historic motion picture footage of the flag raising on Mt. Suribacci, alongside AP photographer Joe Rosenthal, and had never received due recognition for his work from the USMC. In 1945 there was no television, so people got their news from the newsreels in their local theaters. This is where I first saw the famous flag raising, shot on 16mm color film.

Genaust had been recommended for the Navy Cross by his commanding officer, Lt. Col. Donald Dickson for his earlier actions on Saipan, but had never received it. It had been reduced to Bronze Star, by some rear echelon general back in Quantico who had never heard a shot fired in anger. Col. Dickson later went on to become the editor of Marine Magazine and Leatherneck.

When I read Thomey's book, I recalled videotaping a gun battle on Babcock St. in Providence in 1984, for which I won the NPPA national spot news award. But this paled in comparison to what Sgt. Bill Genaust had to face every day of his life in the Pacific theater.

My typical mornings were spent in city hall, capturing the wit and wisdom of Buddy Cianci's weekly press conferences. I was determined to do what I could to get Bill Genaust his well deserved recognition and hopefully have his remains returned to his homeland. I personally would like to see him laid to rest next to the famous Flag Raising statue in Arlington National Cemetery, which was inspired by his 16mm film.

I had received a pledge of support from Senator John Chafee, who himself had fought on Guadacanal as a young Marine. I had often filmed him as governor, secretary of the Navy in Wasington and later as senator. One morning while getting background materiel from the Newport war college library, I learned from the librarian that Chafee had just died. That pretty much stalled the process, as I had been stonewalled by the brass hats at Quantico.

Bob Bolus of Scranton Pa. read my article on "Gunny G's Globe and Anchor" and contacted me. He was actually an army veteran, but was inspired by Genaust's story. He pledged to bring Bill Genaust back, if he had to go to Iwo Jima and do it himself. And that's exactly what he did.

Bob, owner of a salvage company, spent thousands of dollars to travel to Iwo Jima. He located the hill where Bill Genaust was killed, and believes that he located the location of the cave Bill had entered to save another Marine. Genaust was shot by the Japanese inside that cave, and the opening was hit with a flame thrower and sealed.

The expedition presently working on Iwo Jima Island is the direct result of Bob Bolus's lobbying efforts. He also has pledges of support a US Senator to get the Navy Cross awarded posthumously. A niece of Genaust living in Minn. has been asked for a DNA sample to match with any remains they may find.

While working to have Genaust receive his Navy Cross, I learned that the original cast for the Iwo Jima Flag Raising statue was lying abandoned and forgotten in the Fall River State pier warehouse, getting busted up by the longshoremen's fork lifts.

Mrs. Butler, director of the warehouse asked me to help her draw attention to its plight. I contacted Bob Kerr, who lives in Fall River. He wrote a column about it and ran some artwork. This lit a fire under the city fathers, who raised sufficient money to have it bronzed and erected along the waterfront.

But that crusade isn't finished. When last I saw the monument, the sign in front of it credited the wrong sculptor. Felix DeWeldon created it, but it erroneously credited the most recent artisan who assembled it, as the sculptor. I hope by this writing, it has been credited properly.

Frank Clynes
65 Pine Street
Swansea, Ma. 02777
"When it happens, it's News to us."
(WPRI-12's unofficial motto.)

Bob Bolus
1531 Birch Street
Scranton, Pa. 1850

Tedd Thomey
7228 Rose Bay St.
Long Beach, Ca. 90808
Billy Genaust
14018 E. 1100th Ave
Effingham, Ill. 62401

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R.W. "Dick" Gaines
(The Original "Gunny G")
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952- (Plt #437-PISC)-'72
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