When a young soldier named Marvin Strombo took a Japanese flag from a fallen soldier's body, he created a mystery that haunted the man's relatives for decades.
Strombo was lost near enemy lines when he stumbled onto the body of a Japanese soldier with a flag nearby. Japanese flags were popular souvenirs for American soldiers, especially ones covered in calligraphy like this one, so Strombo took it.
After the war, Strombo displayed the flag in his home, but over the years he started to feel guilty about his keepsake. With the help of an organization called the Obon Society, he tried to track down who the flag belonged to so he could return it.
At first all he knew was the flag belonged to a young Japanese soldier who died on the island of Saipan, but experts used the writing on his flag to learn even more. The calligraphy turned out to be almost 200 names of villagers from a small town named Higashishirakawa.
Then they narrowed it down even further, tracing the flag to a young soldier named Sadao Yasue, who still had relatives living in the same small village. Soon a reunion was planned, and by returning the flag Strombo managed to solve a 73-year-old mystery that had plagued the Yasue family.
Get ready, because this family's reaction will make you cry...
When Sadao died, all his family received was a box with some rocks inside. His actual remains were never uncovered.
In fact, the Japanese government wasn't sure where Sadao had died, and could only say it was somewhere in the Mariana Islands. Ever since, Sadao's little brother Tatsuya had been left wondering about his fate.
Strombo was able to finally solve the mystery, revealing that the young soldier was probably killed by a mortar while fighting on Saipan, and then he seemed to die very peacefully.
The Yasue family welcomed the news, along with Sadao's flag. Tatsuya buried his face in the fabric and said "it smelled like my good old big brother, and it smelled like our mother's home cooking we ate together."
Sadao's sister Sayoko covered her face and cried as Strombo put the flag on her lap. "I was so happy that I returned that flag," he told Fox News, "I can see how much the flag meant to her. That almost made me cry ... It meant everything in the world to her."
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[H/T: Fox News]