Sunday, April 11, 2010

Celebrity in the House--WW2 Combat Cameraman

One really riveting presentation was a 20-minute film from the battle of Tarawa atoll in World War 2.  The narrator was 91-year-old Norman Hatch, a Staff Sergeant and combat movie photographer who went ashore during this very bloody battle.   He was the person of the week on ABC news and has made many other appearances on TV and radio recently.  Hatch talked about how he got some of the shots and the advantages of filming in the Pacific compared with the war in Europe.

Hatch shot the only footage in the war in which American soldiers and the enemy are in the same frame.  He spoke in a very matter of fact way through most of the presentation, but got noticeably more animated in talking about this particular shot.  He should have.  He was between two Marines firing from behind a couple of splintered logs.  The Japanese soldiers were maybe 20 feet away, bayonets fixed, charging Hatch's position.  Which brought up one of the great advantages of shooting in the Pacific.  He said in Europe you had to use a long lens because the battles were typically fought at longer ranges.  Of course, it is an advantage to be close enough to see the Japanese soldiers clamber out of a bunker to charge your position, but there are disadvantages to being inside grenade range of an attack by a determined enemy!

Hatch got two standing ovations from the packed room.