LIFE Archive | Pacific Theater in Color (Part I)

The LIFE photo archive has been a welcome distraction for me. I have been mining the vast collections since they went live a few weeks ago, and so far the most difficult decision has been exactly where do to start. So far I found some mind-numbingly great groups of photos and might just need to send Flickr Find on vacation.

The first collection I present to you is WWII Pacific Theater operations in color. This is the real life Navy-ism (sans irony of course), in beautiful color and high-resolution. Click the photos to get all of the real-deal 1940s details.










Comments on “LIFE Archive | Pacific Theater in Color (Part I)

    Brad on December 16, 2008 11:50 AM:

    I’m a youngster, so I have the right to say this: it’s crazy that reality looked like the set of a 1950’s television show. I swear if you could fast forward each of those photos a little bit (especially the first one), you’d end up with nothing but Navy dance competitions complete with musical numbers and perhaps a knife fight for good measure.

    Pretty rad.

    wayne pate on December 16, 2008 1:01 PM:

    When you look at these photos it’s hard to imagine that a war was going on. Jean Paul Gaultier will be all over these!

    valerie on December 16, 2008 2:09 PM:

    i have to completely agree with brad. the first thing i thought of when i saw these was “musical”. i wonder if the photos from today’s wars could ever look this chipper.

    abh1wordpress on December 16, 2008 5:16 PM:

    The one shot of the men in the bar, with the pin-up, there is a skinny dude in the corner, wearing a white t-shirt. He looks just like the late Montgomery Clift.

    Sam on December 16, 2008 5:48 PM:

    Guys, it seems really insensitive to comment on how “chipper” everyone looks. From the seabees t-shirts I can see at least several of these were from the Battle of Tarawa in which about 6,000 American and Japanese died. Something to think about. I don’t mean to be rude, but I just needed to say that.

    Michael Williams on December 16, 2008 6:02 PM:

    I’m sure no one is intentionally trying to disrespect what happened in the Pacific. War is hell.


    jacob on December 16, 2008 8:06 PM:

    i am also a youngster, and although i’m obviously sickened by the violent subtext behind the situation, i think its really beautiful to see such fraternity, humor, and dignity in everyday scenes from people who were consciously going through hell. it’s what makes America so incredible.

    notice how i only capitalized America? SUBTLETIES!

    wayne pate on December 17, 2008 9:21 AM:

    To be clear. There is no way in hell I would ever make light of the war considering my grandfather took part in it. I was surprised to see in at least these photos how relaxed the men appear to be and the beauty of the photography and landscape. Further more, you get a sense of there disposition and say to yourself “hell yeah, that’s why these guys got the job done”.

    sam on December 17, 2008 10:06 AM:

    Remember that WWII media and documentation was as sculpted/scripted and managed as either of our gulf misadventures. Most of this kind of photogrpahy was meant to evoke the very feelings we are talking about here: laconic grit, sullen swagger and an esprit de corps. Not that these feelings are/were fake, just that they were also useful.

    On top of that my grandfather used to talk about taking and clearing a beach so the cameras could be set-up to record the “official” landing of the main force.

    And man those denim shirts in the barber photo are fly as hell.

    Brad on December 17, 2008 12:37 PM:

    For the record, I, too, was not making light of the sacrifices made by any of these men.

    I am glad they looked like they were having a good time. You don’t really see that these days.

    Tony on December 18, 2008 6:49 PM:

    The link to the baseball one is wrong. It links to the truck driver photo. Not the full size baseball pic.

    Michael Williams on December 19, 2008 12:25 PM:

    I fixed the link. Thanks for the heads up.


    Arturo on December 20, 2008 7:14 PM:

    Michael Williams,

    My brother brought these spectacular images to my attention as the fellow sitting under the “barber shop” sign (2wii) bears a striking resemblance to our still-living father who fought in the Pacific theater during WWII.

    Is there any chance that additional information is available?


    Michael Williams on December 21, 2008 12:38 PM:

    Here is the link to the original:

    Chris on December 21, 2008 1:14 PM:

    Thanks for the tip. These pictures are really amazing.

    Tyler on December 21, 2008 10:30 PM:

    Does anyone else think the bar in that one picture is incredibly cool.
    Looks very current, especially the little two lights above the painting.

    They had electricity back then? huh.

    David V on March 6, 2009 10:54 AM:

    What always grabs me about these color images from the past is how, suddenly, they seam more immediate. They don’t have the same “old photo” quality that a B/W image from the time gives you because , I imagine, most of us were raised as post war children and were used to seeing this as from the past.

    Fabio on May 1, 2009 7:53 AM:

    As a child born in ’84 I always enjoy a sneak of the daily life’s of people living in earlier times then I here in America. One thing I must say that, I do feel a bit melancholic about how drastically style changed. I know it will always continue but I just have some nostalgia about missing old world glamour and sophistication.

Comments are closed.