US veteran to return Japanese flag to serviceman’s family
August 14, 2017
TOKYO- A US World War II veteran plans to return a Japanese flag he recovered on the Pacific island of Saipan more than 70 years ago to the family of the fallen Japanese serviceman who had owned it.
Marvin Strombo, a 93-year-old former Marine, told a news conference in Tokyo on Sunday that he has wanted for a long time to give the flag back to its original owner's family.
Strombo, a resident in Montana, plans to visit Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, on Tuesday, the 72nd anniversary of Japan's surrender in the war, to hand the flag in person to the family of the serviceman of the former Imperial Japanese military.
In June 1944, Strombo landed Saipan, where he found the Japanese flag filled with many signatures from the body of the fallen Japanese serviceman.
He recovered the flag in the hope of returning it someday to the family of the deceased. Strombo said that although he had a feeling of guilt, he thought that the flag would be lost forever if left there.
After keeping the flag for more than 70 years, the daughter of Strombo last March contacted the Obon Society, a US nonprofit organization that helps the return of personal effects of fallen Japanese troops to their families.
After coordinated efforts with parties including the Nippon Izokukai (Japan War-Bereaved Families Association), the US group learned that the flag belonged to Sadao Yasue, then 25, from the Gifu village of Higashishirakawa.
Yasue's remains have not been discovered, according to his family.
The flag carries a message praying for long-lasting good luck in battle, along with the signatures of some 180 people. Jiji Press
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