The Pennino Collection

The Center for Japanese Studies, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, presents an online collection of photos of everyday life in Japan during the Occupation Period, taken by US Army Lieutenant Colonel Walter A. Pennino (1915-1998). His daughter, Ms. Donna Howard (former President of the UH Foundation), donated the photos on black and white negative film, and generously gave permission for them to be made available through online. We hope that the collection will provide those interested in Japanese culture and history with a valuable and interesting insight immediate postwar Japan.

Lt. Col. Walter A. Pennino (1915-1998) was born in Massachusetts and served the first half of his career in the US Army. At age 44 he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel and went on to work for the Commerce Department as Coordinator of Information for the Bureau of International Commerce and for NASA as head of its public information program. Following his retirement from NASA, Pennino worked in the corporate world with Donald K. “Deke” Slayton, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, to develop the Conestoga, a privately developed rocket. Throughout his several careers, Pennino continued to work as a freelance author, contributing to the Boston Globe and the Washington Post.

While serving in Europe during WWII, Pennino earned two Bronze Stars, one for valor; two Army Commendation medals; the Purple Heart; the Combat Infantryman’s Badge; the European Theater of Operations ribbon with five campaign stars; and the Belgium Fouraguerre. He was wounded in Holland as a staff officer for the 48 th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 7 th Armored Division, but returned to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. Following his service in Europe, Pennino joined the occupation in Japan as a press attaché to General MacArthur. Along with his military duties for the occupation, Pennino published articles in the Boston Daily Globe on such topics as women, marriage, and shopping in Japan. Furthermore, in 1948, as News Chief for MacArthur, he wrote the eyewitness accounts of Tōjō Hideki’s execution. It was at this time that Pennino took the photos in this collection.

During the Korean War Pennino worked for the Boston Globe, but represented the Secretary of the Army in the war correspondent’s running feud with the military over censorship, which he ultimately endorsed. Pennino also went to Korea during the war to cover the Marine landing at Inchon and to set straight the conflicting reports over the fighting on the Pusan perimeter early in the war. His magazine article on the fighting, “Delaying Action,” was adapted for television’s Hollywood Opening Night. (His article covering the same material, “7 Bloody Hours that Saved Korea,” originally published in Real can be found at On his return to the US, his reports on the low morale of the troops and weak leadership of the US military led to an assignment in Kansas City, MO where he organized the Army Home Town News Service as a means to improve the image of soldiers fighting in Korea. He also served as the unit’s first commanding officer. Later, Pennino worked in Washington D.C. as the Director of Information for the Army Reserve and ROTC Affairs Bureau. For his efforts to increase ROTC and reserve enrollment he was awarded the Silver Anvil Award, the highest honor the American Public Relations Society offers.

After his retirement from the military in 1959, NASA recruited him to head up its public information program. As Deputy Director and then Director, Pennino led NASA’s worldwide press operations, as well as its operational programs for both manned and unmanned space flights. Pennino was also the advance man on the Presidential goodwill tours made by the Apollo 11 crew, and helped to bring the Apollo 13 crew safely home after a malfunction forced NASA to abort the mission. During the energy crisis of the 1970’s, Pennino established a nationwide public relations campaign for the Alliance to Save Energy (Washington, D.C.), as well as published the bimonthly newsletter for the American Public Gas Association. After retiring from NASA, Pennino worked in private industry, helping to open up commercial opportunities in space to the private sector through the development of the aforementioned Conestoga rocket.

In 1998 Ret. Lt. Co Walter Pennino passed away and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Eighty photos in the collection are categorized into ten groups. The categories are set up as general references. For example, ‘Children’ contains photos that feature a child or children. “Ceremonies & Festivals’ includes photos of a local festival (matsuri), an annual fire-brigade review (dezomeshiki), and others. Each photo is cataloged under its main theme only although many pictures may have several items of interest. For example, the four photos of a local festival feature children, but these photos appear only in ‘Festivals & Ceremonies’ category.

The categories are:
1. Children (11 photos)
2. Ceremonies and Festivals (10 photos)
3. Daily Life (6 photos)
4. On the Street (8 photos)
5. Entertainment (7 photos)
6. Buildings (9 photos)
7. Women in Kimono (4 photos)
8. Women at Work (8 photos)
9. Men at Work (12 photos)
10. Repatriated Soldiers (5 photos)

No permission is necessary if photos are used for non-commercial educational purposes such as use of the photos in class lectures, students’ presentations, and academic conference presentations. Please credit the photos with the sentence: “From the Walter A. Pennino Postwar Japan Photo Collection, courtesy of the Center for Japanese Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.” However if the photos are planned to be used in books, newspapers, documentaries, films, or other forms of media and print, the users must fill out a request form and submit it to the Center for Japanese Studies to request permission. You may access the form here: (copy & paste) Send inquiries or requests to: Pennino Photo Collection Center for Japanese Studies, Moore 216 University of Hawaii Honolulu, HI 96822 tel. 808-956-2664 fax 808-956-2666 email:

Browse the Collection


Date issued