- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 24, 2007

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bob Bolus was flipping through Parade magazine two years ago when he came across an article about Sgt. William H. Genaust, who filmed the raising of the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima, Japan, in 1945.

Sgt. Genaust is thought to have been killed in combat days after shooting the footage, and Mr. Bolus was disturbed to learn his remains were never found. Despite having no connection to Sgt. Genaust or his descendants, the businessman and one-time mayoral candidate from Scranton decided he would bring the missing Marine home.

“How do we ignore him and leave him in a cave along with other military personnel who are MIA on the island also?” Mr. Bolus said Friday. “He gave us a patriotic symbol that we see to this day. It’s important.”

He hired specialists, pored over documents and badgered military officials. Now his efforts are starting to bear fruit.

Based largely on Mr. Bolus‘ research, an American search team is looking for a cave on the Japanese island where Sgt. Genaust, a 38-year-old combat photographer with the 28th Marines, might have been killed.

Mr. Bolus is gratified, but says he won’t be truly satisfied until Sgt. Genaust’s remains are located.

Mr. Bolus, 64, was not permitted to join the search mission because he is a civilian. However, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, promised to keep him informed.

“Truly you have been the impetus behind this search, and we would not have made the amount of progress thus far without your help,” Mr. Schieffer wrote Mr. Bolus in early June.

Getting this far hasn’t been cheap — or easy. Mr. Bolus spent weeks trying to break through to officials at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the U.S. and Japanese embassies, at one point dialing random extensions in hopes of getting someone who might listen.

He finally got in touch with Johnnie Webb, a civilian official with Hawaii-based JPAC. “He understood I wasn’t a lunatic,” Mr. Bolus said.

Sgt. Genaust’s great-nephew, Billy Genaust, 75, of Effingham, Ill., said he is appreciative of Mr. Bolus‘ efforts. Mr. Genaust has extensively researched the life of his great-uncle and shared with Mr. Bolus the information he compiled over the years.

“He’s the one that’s really pushed this and thanks to him, it’s come to this point. Without him, it probably would not have happened,” Mr. Genaust said.

Mr. Bolus, who has spent more than $20,000 on his quest, said he is confident Sgt. Genaust’s remains will be found.

Mr. Genaust, meanwhile, has been pushing the military to award his great-uncle a posthumous Navy Cross for heroics during the Battle of Saipan.

“The Marine Corps says, ‘No one left behind.’ And of course the body is still in the cave on Iwo Jima,” he said. “In my opinion it should be back at Arlington National Cemetery.”

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