With the outbreak of World War II, immediately after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, many Americans joined the military to help fight the war effort against the Axis powers.


Charles Kerlee was already well-known as a professional, award-winning commercial photographer. As such, he was approached by a US Navy Reservist, Edward Steichen, himself a famous commercial photographer from New York. Steichen had a simple proposal -- that Kerlee consider joining the US Navy, not as a sailor or soldier, but as a cameraman.

The top brass within the US Navy, realizing that Steichen's talents could help foster public support for the Navy, had tasked him to assemble into a special military unit the world's best photographers and videographers to document the war effort. Steichen, in turn, called on his circle of friends, associates, and competitors, including Kerlee.

Within a few months, Charles Kerlee found himself on board the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) and headed out to sea and into battle. His camera remained at work until the last days of the war, when he documented the flight crews and actions of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-12) in the South China Sea, not far from the coast of Japan.

This feature gallery highlights some of Kerlee's best work, spanning his time at sea and on various islands across the Pacific. We hope you enjoy the work of Charles Kerlee.