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By admin | August 9th, 2017

Wolfkill: Purple Heart earning Cinematographer passes

Grant F. Wolfkill

Grant F. Wolfkill

Grant F. Wolfkill former combat cinematographer USMCR in Pacific Theater WW II died June 14, 2017 at age 94.  Grant was born November 29, 1922.

Grant joined the Marine Corps in 1943.  After completing recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot in San Diego California, he was assigned to the Photo School in Quantico, Virginia.  He completed still photo school and cinematography school.  His classmates in cinematography school included Robert LeRoy Watson and Bill Genaust.

He was then assigned as an instructor in the cinematography school under Captain Thayer Soule.  Wolfkill was sent to First Marine Division by air transport in time to film the battle for Peleliu.  Grant also participated in the landings on Okinawa where he earned the Purple Heart.  He was assigned to film Sixth Division combat and in particular the Fourth Marines.  (Final rank Staff SSgt, but not certain.)

After the war Grant worked for Karl Soule filming travelogues for a few years.  He then worked for BBC and then NBC as a field producer.  While with NBC, Grant was assigned to cover a pending peace conference in Laos.  His helicopter was shot down over Laos, and he, the pilot and crewmember were imprisoned and shackled for fifteen-months by the communist Pathet Lao. 

Grant’s indomitable spirit and fortitude helped his fellow prisoners survive, for which President John F. Kennedy awarded him the Freedom Medal in 1962.  He wrote his story “Reported to be Alive” with Jerry Rose.

 Leading an energetic life, Grant won second place driving a Porsche Spyder in the 1960 Macau Grand Prix.  He continued to work as a photojournalist until he was appointed Vice President of Public Information for a large pharmaceutical company.  He retired to his home in Shelton, Washington.

Grant is survived by his wife, Barbara, son Kim (Editor in Chief of Road and Track, and his daughter Kiki, a top executive at Microsoft.


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