Tai Sing Loo
|Given Name||Tai Sing|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseTai Sing Loo was born in 1886 in the Kingdom of Hawaii, the son of a gold leaf sign painter who had only arrived in Hawaii a few years earlier from Guangdong (Postal Map: Canton) Province, Qing Dynasty China. One of six children, Loo grew up in what is now Honolulu's Foster Botanical Garden. He and his brother Hoon Loo converted to Christianity and because of this, and also for disregarding some of their father's traditional ways, they became isolated from the rest of the family. Hoon Loo was then completely disowned after he married a Hawaiian woman.
ww2dbaseInterested in photography from a young age, Tai Sing Loo worked in the Honolulu photographic studios of Caroline Gurrey from 1909 to 1918. For 30 years from 1919 until his retirement in 1949, he was the official photographer for the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. He photographed the comings and goings of many Navy ships as well as VIP visits, funerals, and recreational events. He also did some photography work for the Interisland Steamship Company and was known as an accomplished landscape photographer. He became well known around the Navy facilities with his trademark pith helmet and either his bicycle or bright red, gasoline powered, three-wheeled "putt-putt."
ww2dbaseTai Sing Loo is responsible for some of the most recognizable Navy photographs from the Hawaiian area. He developed a trademark shot of a ship in the harbor framed by palm trees. On 7 Dec 1941, he was on his way to photograph the Marine guards at the Navy Yard's main gate when the Japanese attack began. He took many of the photographs that have become iconic images of the attack but he also put down his camera and assisted directly with the firefighting efforts around Drydock #1 and the USS Pennsylvania.
ww2dbaseTai Sing Loo and his wife, Florence, had two sons and two daughters. Late in life, they moved to Twentynine Palms, California, United States. He passed away in 1971.
Hawaiian Historical Society
United States Naval Institute Archives
Last Major Revision: Feb 2017
Photographs Taken by Tai Sing Loo
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945