Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-369
Location: LH-369

(Description ID: 595702)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Richard H. Stotz


Biographical Sketch
Scope and ContentInventory

This collection was donated to the Hayes Presidential Center by Bruce Hirt in 2011.  Permission to use this collection for research purposes was granted by the donor.

Biographical Sketch
Richard “Dick” H. Stotz was born on 18 March 1922 in Fremont, Ohio to Edward and Neva (Heinman) Stotz.  Upon graduating from Fremont Ross High School in 1940, he owned and operated Abdoo Photography with his brother, Donald Stotz.  On 14 December 1942 Dick enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and reported to boot camp at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California.

After graduating from boot camp he was assigned to the base photograph section as a photographer, completing numerous aerial and reconnaissance training missions.  In 1944 Dick was reassigned to the 5th Marine Division, 28th Regiment intelligence platoon as a motion and still photographer.  Each division had 12 to 30 still photographers and cinematographers.  Stotz and the other combat photographers were sent to 20th Century Fox Studios in Hollywood, California for additional training on still photography.  After completing this training he rejoined his platoon, along with fellow photographer L.R. Burmeister and combat correspondents William Vessey and W. Keyes Beech.

In September 1944, the 28th Regiment left Camp Pendleton and sailed to the Hawaiian Islands for Camp Tarawa to join the 26th and 27th Regiments.  Intense training, field maneuvers and mock landings took place until January 1945.  While aboard the USS Dickens the regiments received a top secret operation called “Workman Island”, later to be known as Iwo Jima.  On 19 February 1945the 28th regiment arrived at the island of Iwo Jima and was part of the second assault wave to advance ashore, followed by three additional waves of troops. 

Stotz’s primary duty was to capture the battle in photographs as it was taking place.  The job of a combat photographer was made more dangerous because they were never heavily armed, usually  carrying only a single weapon and their camera equipment.  Photographs taken during a combat assault, like Iwo Jima, were rarely developed in the field.  The photographers film was sent out by plane or naval ship to an alternate location to be developed.  Most likely, photographers never saw the actual photographs.  These photographs were be used for training purposes and to identify any mistakes that may have occurred. 

Once on shore the Marines were immediately met with a heavy assault from the Japanese that included artillery and machine gunfire.  Both the United States and Japan experienced heavy casualties during the initial invasion.  Intelligence correspondent, Sgt. Bill Vessey, was killed on 20 February 1945, the second day of the battle.  Sgt. L.R. Burmeister was wounded several days later.  On 22 February 1945 the Marines gained control of Mount Suribachi and proceeded to take possession of both airfields on the island.  Stotz was acquainted with fellow photographer, Joe Rosenthal, who took the iconic photograph of the flag raising atop Mt. Suribachi.  The assault lasted 36 days, with the United States taking control of the island on 26 March 1945.  The seizure of Iwo Jima allowed for sea and air blockades, andthe ability to conduct intensive air bombardment to destroy Japan’s air and naval capabilities.  Although Iwo Jima was a key victory for the United States, the battle resulted in over 26,000 American casualties.  Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to marines and sailors, more than were awarded for any other single operation during the war.

Returning to Camp Tarawa, the 5th Marine Division rewarded its troops with an extensive liberty program, allowing them to travel to the islands of Hilo and Honolulu for relaxation and entertainment.  After returning from liberty they began training for the invasion on Japan, particularly the areas of Sasebo and Nagasaki.  Before the 5th Division had a chance to set out towards their objective the Army Air Force dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  On 14 August 1945 the Japanese government surrendered, ending World War II and raising the hopes of American troops that they would soon be returning home.  Unfortunately the 5th Division quickly learned that it was to participate in the occupation of Japan.  Arriving in September 1945, Stotz and his comrades helped jumpstart the rebuilding process, first in Sasebo and then to Nagasaki and beyond.   Stotz chronicled this phase through his camera, shooting several aspects of the rebuilding process.  By 23 November 1945 the 5th Division had completed its objective in Japan and were finally able to return to the United States.

On 1 February 1946 Richard Stotz was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps as a technical sergeant.  Because of Stotz’s efforts while serving his country, he received the Asiatic Pacific Ribbon, Occupation Service Medal, World War II Victory Ribbon and the American Campaign Ribbon.  He also helped form the Russell Monk Detachment Marine Corps League, which continued several years after World War II.

After returning home to Fremont, Richard continued working at his photography studio and opened a second studio in Clyde, Ohio.  On 21May 1949 Richard married Paula Marie Baumer.  Several years later he sold both studios and began working for Economy Plumbers Supply Company, retiring in 1992.  He was a member of several local organizations, including the VFW, American Legion and Zenobia Shrine.  Richard Stotz died on 5 April at the age of 86 in Fremont, Ohio.

Scope and Content
This collection, spanning the years from 1942 to 1946, contains digital images of approximately 1,200 photographs and miscellaneous paperwork pertaining to the service record of Richard H. Stotz in the United States Marine Corps as a combat photographer during World War II.  The photographs depict the locations of Camp Pendleton, several Hawaiian Islands, and 20th Century Fox Studios located in Hollywood, California where Stotz completed a portion of his training.  Perhaps most important are the photographs taken during the invasion of Iwo Jima and the Occupation of Japan.  These images show Stotz’s comrades, Japanese prisoners, downed military airplanes and combat operations.  Also included in the photographs are the locations of Nagasaki, and Sasebo Japan between 1945 and 1946.  These later images show the destruction caused by the atomic bombs, Japanese civilians and a portion of the rebuilding process.  The images were taken by Stotz and his fellow Marine combat photographers.  Photocopies of Stotz’s military documents complete the collection.A gallery of selected images from the collection are available at 

Ac. 5787

Box 1

1. Digital Images – 2 discs
2. Military Documents
3. Personal Account of Military Service