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Marine Takes Flag From Fallen Enemy During WWII, 73 Yrs Later Comes Face To Face With Soldier’s Family

In 1944, a 20-year-old Marine from Montana was deployed to Saipan during WWII. While there, the Marine, named Marvin Strombo, became separated from his squad and stumbled across the dead body of a Japanese soldier.

It would be 73 years before Marvin learned the name of the soldier– Sadao Yasue– but he’d never forget his face or the flag Yasue carried near his heart.

Washington Post

The flag Yasue kept under his jacket was a “good luck flag”– a Japanese flag decorated with notes from 180 family-members and friends. Across the top of the flag were the words “long-lasting fortune in battle.”Strombo took the flag, and it has been on display in his home in Missoula, Montana ever since.

But last week, on the 72nd anniversary of Japan’s WWII surrender, Strombo traveled to a remote village to return the flag to Yasue’s family.

Washington Post

“I had such a moment with your brother 73 years ago,” said Strombo. “I promised him one day I would return the flag to his family,”he said. “It took a long time, but I was able to bring the flag back to you, where it belongs.â€

Yasue’s brother and sister–now age 89 and 95— buried their faces in the flag and wept.

Washington Post

“Marvin, thank you very much for bringing us this flag,”said Yasue’s sister. “Looking at this flag, the signatures are very clear, and I can almost smell my brother’s skin from the flag,”she said. “We know that you have kept it well for so long.â€

The family had never found out what happened to Yasue, so hearing Strombo’s story gave them much-needed closure. Yasue’s siblings plan to take the flag to their parents’ grave and intend to pass the flag down through their family.

Washington Post

“I’m so glad we finally got it back to you, and I’m sorry it took so long,”said Strombo.

The heartwarming interaction was prompted by the Obon Society, an Oregon nonprofit that works to reconcile wartime enemies. This isn’t the first time the Obon Society has returned souveniers like this to families, but it is the first time they’ve facilitated a meeting in person.

Washington Post

“We cannot change the past,”said the Obon Society’s co-founder, Rex Ziak, “but from this day forward, we want this historic meeting of the families to be known as the final chapter of the war.â€

Watch the video below for more of this heartwarming story.

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