A Washington state resident who snapped the first photographs of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has donated them to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The images, shot by Lee Embree, will be on permanent display.
At the time of the attack, Embree was a staff sergeant and photographer with the Army Air Corps. He was aboard a B-17 that was flying from California to Hickam Field in Hawaii and happened to arrive in the midst of the attack.
Embree leaned out of the airplane and, using his 35-pound camera, took the famous photographs. Among the images he captured are several shots of Japanese aircraft and the damaged harbor with the U.S.S. Arizona burning.
Last summer Embree was at the airport in his hometown of Port Angeles, Wash., during a visit of the Collings Foundation B-17. He got to talking with Alan Barnard, a World War II buff who encouraged him to find a home for the photographs. That eventually led to the donation to the Museum of Flight.
“The artifacts are in a case in the World War II gallery of the Personal Courage Wing,” said Cory Graff, assistant curator. “In addition to his camera we have his dog tags, a flying helmet and his copy of ‘Life’ magazine where the photos appeared, along with four other photos.”
There also is an audio recollection of the attack.