To find a love lost for years is heavenly. This is true for a recent meeting between Duane Mann, a 91-year-old Korean War veteran, and his beloved Peggy Yamaguchi, who is the same age. Mann described the emotional reunion, held earlier this week after a 70-year hiatus, as a “liberating experience”. But it seems that it was really the work of fate as he was finally able to find her and reunite again after several efforts.
In 1953, Navy man Mann had first met Yamaguchi in Japan, where he was stationed from 1953 to 1954. In his spare time, Mann used to repair slot machines at a club of the air force non-commissioned officers. In it, Peggy was working as a “hat control girl.” The two had decided to get married, but Mann was fired and sent back to the United States two months earlier.
Returning home, Mann found that his father had spent all of his savings, which he sought to use to call Yamaguchi to the United States. For a time, the couple exchanged letters until one day Mann stopped receiving mail from her. He later found out that his mother had burned letters because she didn’t want Mann to “marry a Japanese girl”.
Watch: A 70-year journey to find lost love: Korean War veteran reunites with first love
When Mann returned to the United States, Yamaguchi was pregnant. He wanted to find her to tell her that he had never abandoned her. He also wanted to explain why they couldn’t unite.
In a final attempt to reunite with Yamaguchi, Mann wrote a Facebook post about their romance. He said they spent “a lot of time dancing together” when they fell in love.
When her story went viral, 23-year-old History Channel researcher Theresa Wong tracked down Yamaguchi after finding an article from 1956 with the headline “Tokyo Bride Makes Life in Escanaba.”
All the while, Yamaguchi was living with her Navy husband in Escanaba, Michigan, USA. She had three sons.
For the two, Mann’s son and Yamaguchi’s son arranged a meeting at the Island Resort and Casino in Escanaba. The two shared their side of the story and reminisced about their time together in Japan years ago. “I’m here to tell you that I haven’t abandoned you at all. I just couldn’t find you,” Mann told Yamaguchi.
He also showed Yamaguchi his photos which he had kept in his wallet for 70 years. “Thank you for remembering and [saving] all the pictures, you must have loved me,” Yamaguchi said as she hugged and kissed Mann.
(With agency contributions)
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