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U.S. WWII veteran returns Japanese flag to owner's family

A U.S. World War II veteran on Tuesday returned a Japanese flag
taken on the island of Saipan in 1944 to the family of a fallen
Japanese soldier in Gifu Prefecture, central Japan.

Marvin Strombo, 93, met the long-dead soldier Sadao Yasue's
younger brother Tatsuya, 89, and other family members in the village
of Higashishirakawa and delivered them the flag, on which Yasue's
acquaintances and relatives had written their names.

"He was a reliable and kind brother. I feel like I can smell his
scent because it has been kept in good condition," Tatsuya said, as
the family members repeatedly pressed their cheeks against the flag
and shed tears.

Strombo told them that he believes Yasue was killed by the blast
of a mortar attack as there were no noticeable wounds on his body and
he had looked as if he were asleep.

He said he had promised to the dead Yasue to return the flag to
his family and was glad to have kept his pledge after 73 years.

Japanese soldiers brought such flags to the battlefield as a
good-luck charm, and Allied troops frequently took them from the
bodies of fallen soldiers and brought them home as souvenirs of the

Strombo found the body of 25-year-old Yasue and the flag in
Saipan while battling Japanese troops as a young Marine in July 1944.

His journey was realized through the support of the Obon
Society, a nonprofit organization in the United States that helps
veterans and their descendants return battlefield flags to the
owners' families, after his daughter contacted the society.

The society was able to find Yasue's family through the writing
on the flag.

It is believed that Strombo is the first U.S. veteran who has
returned a flag to a Japanese family in person through the Obon
Society. (Aug. 15)

U.S. World War II veteran Marvin Strombo (C) meets with Tatsuya Yasue (L) in the central Japan village of Higashishirakawa on Aug. 15, 2017, to hand over a Japanese flag Strombo found in a battlefield in 1944. Acquaintances and relatives of Yasue's late brother wrote their names on the flag, eventually enabling a U.S. organization to identify its owner. (Kyodo)