Never-before-seen trove of photos shows Honolulu during height of World War II

Never-before-seen trove of photos shows Honolulu during height of World War II
Richard Perkins snapped this photograph of Hotel Street in the 1940s. The Army radio operator was stationed at Fort Shafter and was an avid photographer.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Richard Perkins joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Shafter as a radio operator.

Dana Perkins holds the tin can he found in a closet. It held several rolls of 35 millimeter film his father never developed. Perkins estimates there are nearly 800 photos of 1940s Honolulu.
Dana Perkins holds the tin can he found in a closet. It held several rolls of 35 millimeter film his father never developed. Perkins estimates there are nearly 800 photos of 1940s Honolulu. (Perkins Family)

He was also an avid photographer. When he died in 2014, his family inherited a closet full of photo albums and a tin can.

“This is everything that was inside, rolls of black-and-white, 35-millimeter film,” said Dana Perkins, speaking to Hawaii News Now from his home in Maine.

Since the discovery, Perkins has digitized his dad’s undeveloped film and discovered nearly 800 photographs his father snapped on Oahu during World War II. Many of them are of military personnel.

"We've got a few names, a lot of them just initials," Perkins said. "That's why we're trying to fill in the pieces."

With the photos digitized, Perkins started the World War II Pacific Veterans Project, an effort to identify the people in the pictures. He created a website that displays his father’s photographs with close-up shots of service members, civilians and children.

Perkins hopes people will look at the faces, find their relatives and contact him.

“If family members get hold of us, we’d be happy to send them the complete picture that their loved one is in,” he said.

Richard Perkins also took photos of different places on Oahu. Retired Army Lt. Col. Milton Migita is helping Dana Perkins identify buildings and businesses that have since disappeared.

"It provides background, history, of things that existed 70 years ago and don't exist now," he said.

Perkins wants to compile the images into a book.

“I’ve also got boxes of 8-millimeter movies that I’m just starting to dig into, in addition to the photos,” he said.

After everything is digitized, Perkins says he’ll donate the originals to a military museum or photo archive in Hawaii.

“We have no interest in keeping the originals, because they’re just going to continue to deteriorate over time,” he said.

The photos are also a treasure for the Perkins family, giving them insight into a part of Richard Perkins’ life that he rarely spoke about.

"He made it very clear that he felt that the real heroes were the ones that didn't make it back home," Dana Perkins said..

Here’s a link to the World War II Pacific Veterans Project: http://WW2PacificVeteransProject.org

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