US WWII vet returns Japanese flag to fallen soldier's family

The previous U.S. Marine knew the calligraphy-coated flag he took from a fallen Japanese soldier seventy three years in the past was greater than a souvenir of World Conflict II. When Marvin Strombo lastly handed the flag again to Sadao Yasue’s youthful brother and sisters Tuesday, he understood what it actually meant to them.

Tatsuya Yasue buried his face into the flag and smelled it, then he held Strombo’s palms and kissed them. His elder sister Sayoko Furuta, sitting in her wheelchair, coated her face with each palms and wept silently as Tatsuya positioned the flag on her lap.

The flag is a treasure that may fill a deep void for Yasue’s household.

The flag Strombo handed to Yasue’s siblings is the primary hint of their brother. The Japanese authorities solely gave them a picket field containing a number of rocks, a substitution for the stays which have by no means been discovered.

The flag’s white background is crammed with signatures of one hundred eighty associates and neighbors on this tea-rising mountain village of Higashishirakawa, wishing Yasue’s protected return. “Good luck ceaselessly on the battlefield,” a message on it reads. Wanting on the names and their handwriting, Tatsuya Yasue clearly recollects their faces and friendship together with his brother.

“The flag shall be our treasure,” Tatsuya Yasue, a youthful brother of the fallen soldier, informed the Related Press at his four hundred-yr-previous home. The 89-yr-previous farmer says the return of the flag brings closure. “It is just like the conflict has lastly ended and my brother can come out of the limbo.”

Yasue final noticed his older brother alive the day earlier than he left for the South Pacific in 1943. Tatsuya and two siblings had a small ship-off picnic for the oldest brother outdoors his army unit over sushi and Japanese candy mochi, which turned their final meal collectively. On the finish of the assembly, his brother lowered his voice, asking Tetsuya to take excellent care of their mother and father, as he can be despatched to the Pacific islands, harsh battlegrounds the place probabilities of survival have been low.

A yr later, the picket field containing the stones arrived. Months after the struggle ended, the authorities advised Yasue his brother died someplace within the Marianas on July 18, 1944, at age 25.

“That is all we have been advised about my brother, and we might solely think about what may need occurred,” he stated. Yasue and his kinfolk questioned Sadao may need died at sea off Saipan. About 20 years in the past, Yasue visited Saipan together with his youthful brother, imagining what their older brother may need gone by means of.

The one one that can present a few of these solutions, Strombo, stated he discovered Yasue’s physique on the outskirts of Garapan when he received misplaced and ended up close to the Japanese frontline. He advised Yasue’s siblings that their brother doubtless died of a concussion from a mortar spherical. He advised them that Sadao was mendacity on his left, peacefully as if he was sleeping, not in ache.

A minimum of the flag and his story recommend Yasue died on the bottom, which raises hopes of retrieving his stays.

The stays of almost half of two.four million Japanese warfare-lifeless abroad have but to be discovered seventy two years after the World Conflict II ended. It is a urgent concern because the bereaved households attain previous age and reminiscences fade.

Allied troops often took the flags from the our bodies of their enemies as souvenirs. However to the Japanese bereaved households, they’ve a a lot deeper which means, particularly these, like Yasue, who by no means discovered how their family members died and by no means acquired stays. Japanese authorities has requested public sale websites to cease buying and selling wartime signed flags.

Strombo had the flag hung in a glass-fronted gun cupboard in his house in Montana for years, a subject of dialog for guests. He was within the battles of Saipan, Tarawa and Tinian, which chipped away at Japan’s management of islands within the Pacific and paved the best way for U.S. victory.

In 2012, he was related to an Oregon-based mostly nonprofit Obon Society that helps U.S. veterans and their descendants return Japanese flags to the households of fallen troopers. The group’s analysis traced it to the tea-rising village of two,300 individuals in central Japan by analyzing household names.


Comply with Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at

Her work may be discovered at APNews at

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