firefighters in pearl harbor photo identified!

Remember that awesome photo of female firefighters at Pearl Harbor? Some research has turned up more information about the photo to set the record straight. Turns out, the photo was indeed taken at Pearl Harbor, but definitely not on December 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor surprise: Photo of female firefighters wasn't from Dec. 7.

It's likely that this is actually a Navy publicity photo taken to showcase the roles of women during role. At some point, the photo was mislabeled by various sources that described it as taken during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But the original photo has been uncovered at the Hawaii War Records Depository -- with the correct caption:

"A crew of women fire fighters, all crews having been chosen from personnel working in the immediate vicinity of the pumper stations. From left to right: Elizabeth Moku, Alice Cho, Katherine Lowe, and Hilda Van Gieson."

The woman pictured second the right, Katherine Lowe, is still living in Hawaii at age 96. She confirms that the photo definitely wasn't taken December 7, 1941:
Lowe said the wartime photo was certainly not taken on Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Imperial Japanese Navy shocked the United States into joining World War II. On that Sunday morning she was headed to church when the bombing started, and she went ahead anyway because she wasn't sure what else to do. But she and her friends from the Dole pineapple factory did soon go to work as civilian workers at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, and one of their duties was to fight fires. She said the photo was probably taken at a training exercise during the war. She said she had no idea that her photo was in history books.
Lowe was best friends with Elizabeth Moku, pictured first from the left (Lowe's daughter referred to her as "Auntie Moku"). She died in 1986. It's uncertain who Alice Cho and Hilda Van Gieson are, but based on the public records, the Open Channel has some pretty good guesses. Read the rest of the article here.

Even though the photo wasn't taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor, it's still pretty badass. What an amazing find. (Thanks, Kevin.)

angry archive