10/8/2009 - AFS Mourns the Passing of Irving Penn, 1917-2009
Penn sightseeing in Venice, May 1945. Photo by an AFS Driver Hugh Lamberton
Irving Penn, the world’s foremost fashion photographer and an AFS ambulance driver in World War II passed away at age 92 on October 7, 2009 in New York. Please see his obituary in the New York Times here.
Penn was born on June 16, 1917 in Plainsfield, New Jersey and educated at Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art. He was twenty-seven years old and a photographer for Vogue when he volunteered with the American Field Service in August of 1944. Penn was sent overseas with AFS Unit CM 92 in October 1944. He was attached to AFS 485 Ambulance Company and served as an ambulance driver in the Italian Campaign. After the end of the war in Europe, he was transferred to India in July of 1945 and returned to the United States in November of 1945. For his service Penn was awarded the British medals—the Italy Star, 1939-45 Star, and the War Medal.
As an AFS staff photographer Penn recorded AFS service in Italy and India. He covered the meeting of the AFS French and Central Mediteranean Units in the Brenner Pass in the Alps in May of 1945. He documented AFS volunteers in Austria, and shot the transfer of AFS volunteers to India in July of 1945. Penn’s photos captured unique moments in AFS’s history.
AFS takes great pride in Penn’s service. We deeply appreciate his contribution and steadfast commitment.