A Korean War Navy veteran who spent nearly 70 years looking for the woman he fell in love with has finally found her.
When Duane Mann’s unit was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, in 1953, he met Peggy Yamaguchi for the first time. Peggy worked as a hat-check girl at an Air Force NCO Club, where the 22-year-old slot machine repairman worked.
Sparks flew, and the couple went on to the court for 14 months.
“I really loved to dance and she and I found out we could really dance together, I mean, to where people would watch us. And gradually we fell in love, we couldn’t stop it,” Mann recalled.
Mann, on the other hand, was abruptly ordered to return to the United States two months early. Yamaguchi was expecting his child at the time, and he promised to send for her so they could marry and raise a family together.
When he returned home, he discovered that his father had spent all of his savings on bringing Yamaguchi to the United States.
Mann and Yamaguchi corresponded regularly until he stopped receiving them after a month. He would later learn that Yamaguchi’s letters were destroyed by his mother because she did not want him to marry a Japanese woman.
Yamaguchi eventually wrote Mann a letter in which she revealed that she had miscarried their child and had married another man.
«It was finished. That solidified her belief that I had abandoned her. It was simply exhausting. «That is not a noble act,» he declared.
The veteran carried his grief and guilt with him for the rest of his life, afraid Yamaguchi would believe he had neglected her while she was carrying their child.
Mann’s local news station, KETV NewsWatch 7, broadcast his story last month, and it went viral. The Japanese press also covered Mann’s lifelong search for his long-lost love.
Theresa Wong, a 23-year-old Canadian researcher for the History Channel, was moved enough by Mann’s story to launch her own investigation. She came across a 1956 article titled «Tokyo bride enjoys life in Escanaba,» which gave her the last name and an address to work with.
That piece of information eventually led to a lead.
Yamaguchi, 91, had moved to the United States with her Navy husband and lived in Escanaba, Michigan, just a few states away from Mann in Iowa, where she raised three sons.
Her husband is still alive, and her adult sons said the story about their mother’s past moved them.
Wong’s tip prompted reporter Michelle Bandur to contact Yamaguchi’s son, Rich Sedenquist, who showed his mother a video clip of Mann’s search for her.
«She exclaimed, ‘I remember him!’» he explained. ‘He really cared about me, you know.’
Mann’s brother, Mike Sedenquist, is moved by Mann’s determination to find their mother.
«He’s able to fulfill his lifelong dream of meeting and falling in love with the woman he met and fell in love with, and what a wonderful story!» he exclaimed.
Mike also revealed that his middle name is Duane, and that he was named after his mother’s first love.
The two finally met in a conference room at Escanaba’s Island Resort and Casino. When Mann saw his former partner, he exclaimed, «Peggy!» They hugged, and within minutes, they were reminiscing about their wonderful time in Japan.
Mann told Yamaguchi about what had happened in the past and showed her old photos of her that he had kept in his wallet for nearly seven decades.
«And I’ve thought about that my whole life, I was worried that you thought I abandoned you,» he explained. «And I’m here to tell you that I never abandoned you. I simply couldn’t find you.»
«Thank you for remembering and [saving] all the pictures, you must have loved me,» Yamaguchi said as he hugged and kissed Mann.
Yamaguchi stated that she had not felt abandoned, and Mann stated that their reunion had «really been a freeing experience for me.»
Watch their long-awaited reunion happen in the video below.