- A 91-year-old retired soldier Duane Mann's heart was put to rest when he finally met his long-lost love, Peggy Yamaguchi
- The two last saw each other 70 years ago when they were lovers and Mann had to go back home to the US, leaving Yamaguchi pregnant and alone
- Yamaguchi would send him letters but abruptly stopped, which made him think she had dumped him
- It turns out Mann's mum used to hide letters from Yamaguchi because she didn't want him to marry a Japanese girl; they reunited through the efforts of the media
A 91-year-old US retired soldier has finally met the love of his life who broke up with him after 70 years of searching for her.
Saw Peggy Yamaguchi in 1954
Duane Mann saw his first love, Peggy Yamaguchi, for the first time in 1954 when he was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan.
WNEM reports that Yamaguchi was pregnant when Mann, a 22-year-old Iowa farm boy, got his orders from the Navy to go back to the states.
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Mann left and promised to marry her but upon arrival in Iowa from the Korean War, he found his father had fallen on hard times and spent all his savings.
Suddenly, letters from Yamaguchi stopped coming, but he was wrong to think that she didn't love him anymore. He later discovered his mother had burned the letters.
She had lost the baby
“She didn’t want me to marry a Japanese girl,” Mann said.
A final letter arrived for Mann and Yamaguchi wrote that she had lost the baby and married someone else.
“It was over, it set in that idea that I abandoned her, just wore me out,” Mann said.
“That’s not an honorable thing to do,” he added.
Over the years, Mann’s son, Brian, supported his father’s lifelong quest to find his lost love because he wanted to clear his concience.
Mann’s long search of hope
“I think it was a combination of guilt, confusion and sadness. We owe it to them to see if this is truly the Peggy that my dad is looking for,” he said.
In early May, Mann’s long search, of heartbreak and hope, went around the world and was shared by Japanese media. Viewers and readers got in on the search, emailing and posting obituaries and photos, wondering if they had found Yamaguchi.
It turns out that when Duane Mann was in Iowa searching for Yamaguchi, she was closer to him than he could have imagined.
Rich Sedenquist, Yamaguchi’s son, was eventually found, contacted and asked if she remembered Duane Mann.
Yamaguchi had moved on
“One way to find out,” he said.
So, he took his headphones over to his mother and played the video clip of Duane Mann from the news article. She right away said that she remembered him because he really loved her.
Yamaguchi was alive and had moved on with her Navy husband whom she married in 1955. She lived in the same Michigan community where she raised her three sons.
“He’s able to fulfill his dream, his lifelong dream to find the woman that he met and fell in love with and, 70 years later, what a wonderful story,” Sedenquist said.
Discovered by a Canadian woman
An article dated February 3, 1956, from the local Escanaba newspaper, The Daily Press, was instrumental in finding Yamaguchi.
"It was discovered by a Canadian woman who saw Duane Mann’s story online and felt compelled to act.
“I feel like it cut me right to my soul,” she said.
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The 23-year-old is a researcher for the History Channel and she found the old newspaper article with the headline Tokyo bride makes life in Escanaba.
Carrying around the heartbreak
That article provided the last name and an address to go by.
“I cannot imagine carrying around that heartbreak for 70 years,” Wong said.
“I really hope this is just that opportunity to get closure and really like a release all those years of worrying about it,” he added.
Upon meeting, Duane Mann and Yamaguchi spontaneously started reminiscing about their special time in Japan.
“I was scared at first, I thought my mother and Duane wouldn’t talk like they did but when they started smiling and talking it was all worth it. it was all worth it for me,” Sedenquist said.
Brian Mann, Duane Mann’s son had similar sentiments.
“It’s a great example, as my dad has always been telling me, follow your heart, be a kind person and not be afraid to take a step other people won’t. It’s authentic to me," he added.
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Mann's strong impression on Yamaguchi
Duane Mann told Yamaguchi he remembers her with photos in his billfold wallet, which he has carried around for 70 years.
Duane Mann also left a strong impression on Yamaguchi. Sedenquist’s middle name is Duane.
“It just came to light how I really got that name, and it wasn’t by happenstance, it was for a reason I believe,” Sedenquist said.
“It’s really been a freeing experience for me,” said Mann.
Old soldier reunites with children he saved
Meanwhile, Legit.ng earlier reported that a 97-year-old World War II veteran, Martin Adler, reunited with the three kids he rescued in Italy as the German was losing the war in 1944.
It was gathered that more than 70 years after the war, the man would fondly hold the black and white photo of himself when he was a 20-year-old American soldier as he posed beside the children he saved.
On Monday, August 23, 2021, the man met the children who are now in their 80’s for the first time during the war. The reunion was such an emotional one as he kept stretching his hands towards them.