By Susan Zimmerman In an age before television and instant communications, Americans wanted to see what was going on in the world’s “deadliest conflict in human history,” and LIFE magazine was making a name for itself as THE war magazine during World War II. The news weekly did its part by filling its pages with top-notch photography. LIFE magazine’s youngest war correspondent and photojournalist in the Pacific Theater at that time was 24-year-old Ralph Morse. His wasn’t a household name yet, but his war photographs would soon be on newsstands and in homes throughout America. Growing up in the Bronx, New York, with humble roots, Morse wanted to be a newsreel cameraman but when he realized he couldn’t afford to join the union, he decided to take every free photography class that the City College of New York offered in the late 1930s. When it came time to look for work, he opened a New York business directory and started working his way through the alphabet. He landed his first job when he reached “P”—with photographer Paul Parker. Morse’s life became a Horatio Alger rags-to-riches photographic success story. After working for Parker, Morse exhibited early on his knack for being in the right place at the right time. While working in a photo lab as a printer with co-worker
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All honour to a brave and dedicated man. Ralph Morse’s pictures have been with me constantly throughout my 45 years as a Kiwi history teacher. I wonder now what myself and my students would have done without his so truthful pictures and stories. Iconic records indeed!