World War II Pacific Veterans Project Aims to Identify Photos of Troops

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Richard Perkins joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Shafter as a radio operator. 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, you know, it’s rolls of black and white film, 35mm film,” said Dana Perkins.

Dana Perkins digitized the undeveloped film — nearly 800 photographs taken on Oahu during World War II. Many are of military personnel that were stationed here.

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

Perkins started the Pacific Veterans Project. A website displays his father’s photographs of service members, civilians, and children. He hopes people will see their relatives and contact him.

“If family members get ahold of us. We’d be happy to send them the complete picture that their loved one is in.”

The photos also show how Honolulu has changed.

Retired Lt. Colonel Milton Migita is helping Perkins identify places that have disappeared.

“It kind of provides background, history, things that existed 70 years ago and don’t exist now,” Migita said.

Perkins wants to compile the images into a book.

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

After everything is digitized, 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.”

The photos are also a treasure for the Perkins family — giving them insight into a part of Richard Perkin’s 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.”

Get more information on the Pacific Veterans Project here.

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