What a contrast to the tensions over Confederate statues!


I picked this up from a tweet by a friend:

In a nutshell:

A WWII Marine vet travelled to Japan to give a flag to the family of the fallen soldier from whom he had taken it during the Battle of Saipan.

A taste…


World War II veteran Marvin Strombo traveled 10,000 miles from his quiet home in Montana to the land of the rising sun to personally return a Japanese flag he had taken from Sadao Yasue during the Battle of Saipan in June 1944.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran carried the flag with him decades after his time serving as a scout sniper with 6th Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division. He cared for the flag meticulously and never once forgot the promise he made to Yasue as he took the flag from him in the midst of war.

As a young corporal, Strombo looked up from his position on the battlefield, he noticed he became separated from his squad behind enemy lines. As he started heading in the direction of the squad’s rally point, he came across a Japanese soldier that lay motionless on the ground.

“I remember walking up to him,” said Strombo. “He was laying on his back, slightly more turned to one side. There were no visible wounds and it made it look almost as if he was just asleep. I could see the corner of the flag folded up against his heart. As I reached for it, my body didn’t let me grab it at first. I knew it meant a lot to him but I knew if I left it there someone else might come by and take it. The flag could be lost forever. I made myself promise him, that one day, I would give back the flag after the war was over.”

As years went on, Strombo kept true to his promise to one day deliver the heirloom. It was not until the fateful day he acquainted himself with the Obon Society of Astoria, Oregon, that he found a way to Yasue’s family.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. BenH says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I know my grandfather who fought in the Philippines has two such flags. He had wanted to return them but didn’t know how. He passed away November 11, 2011 at 91. I will present the Obon Society to my grandmother and family and pray they will return them.

  2. Mario Bird says:

    Amen, Fr.! And God bless them both. This whole “eradicating our history” movement is eerily similar to the denouement in Chesterton’s “Napoleon of Notting Hill”:

    “It is rumoured that Notting Hill has vetoed the statue of General Wilson they are putting up opposite Chepstow Place. If that is so, it is a black and white shameless breach of the terms on which we surrendered to Turnbull after the battle of the Tower. We were to keep our own customs and self-government. If that is so—”

    “It is so,” said a deep voice; and both men turned round.

    A burly figure in purple robes, with a silver eagle hung round his neck and moustaches almost as florid as his plumes, stood in the doorway.

    “Yes,” he said, acknowledging the King’s start, “I am Provost Buck, and the news is true. These men of the Hill have forgotten that we fought round the Tower as well as they, and that it is sometimes foolish, as well as base, to despise the conquered.”

  3. SKAY says:

    I cannot access the whole story but the fact that World War II veteran Marvin Strombo was a Marine and a member of the greatest generation could explain the difference.
    Considering the circumstances, it is a very special story and speaks so well of Mr. Strombo.

  4. Lusp says:

    It’s called honor. This gentleman had it, Lee had it in spades, and the BLM/ANTIFA rabble don’t even know how to spell it.

  5. gracie says:

    I posted this to Facebook with the heading, ‘With malice toward none, with charity for all . . .’ – Abraham Lincoln. No response yet – people may be too intimidated to post a comment but I hope they get the analogy.

    A second Facebook posting had to do with Iceland’s assertion that they’ve eliminated Down’s Syndrome in their country by 100% via the clever means of euthanasia. That one was titled , ‘Speaking of the Nazis . . .’ but it occurred to me that the heading, ‘Neo-Nazi bad, Paleo-Nazi good’ might have been more to the point.


  6. iamlucky13 says:

    Perhaps this is a bit long and speculative, but there’s a lot to think about that the parallels help me contextualize.

    I suspect few things can remind one of the humanity of their enemies than seeing them stripped of all that you fear of them, every bit as helpless in death as your own comrades. I can only imagine seeing that him on the battlefield like that made it much easier for him to forgive not only Mr. Yasue, but the rest of Japan as well.

    I note that the Japanese military did things during the war even worse than enslaving other human beings…and they did that, too. It was not easy for those who lived through it, or even their children, to forgive. Meanwhile, even today the nation of Japan still has difficulty accepting that part of its history, as the South does theirs, and reconciling it with the individual sacrifices made by their soldiers.

    It’s always seemed fairly obvious to me that we can’t celebrate what the South was fighting for, yet there’s an understandable desire to fill that part of their history with something that is not ignoble, and I think Lee represented that to the defeated Confederate states trying to pick up their lives after the war and cope with the deaths of their brothers and fathers.

    I’m not deeply familiar with Japan’s sense of its own history, but I have the perception that Admiral Yamamoto is starting to be thought of the same way in Japan. Yamamoto did not want war with the US, but he followed his orders to carry it out nonetheless. Although some may be tempted to white-wash Lee’s tolerant views of slavery, it is true that he similarly was reluctant to fight for the South. He left after secessions started, argued against it, and was even promoted by President Lincoln. But when it became clear that his duty in the Union Army was going to be to attack his neighbors and family in Virginia, he instead decided to defend them.

    Perhaps Yamamoto’s conduct both before and during the war could help them accept a history troubling enough they don’t even teach much of it in schools, because dwelling only on the infamy is too much. In the same manner, perhaps the infamy of the Civil War is too much for the South, without some semblance of a respectable figure to hold on to.

    When reading a story like this, it is very difficult to vilify a man like Mr. Yasue, despite what he fought to defend. Perhaps it seems easier to vilify Admiral Yamamoto because a legendary leader seems less like ourselves than a little known soldier, but I don’t see how that reaction to him would be any more productive.

    So then why do so for the South, and take away any sense that their grandparents and great grandparents might have had some lingering nobility despite the cause they sided with? Why refuse to distinguish between actual racism today and the struggle for parts of the country to explain things their families were involved in before they were born and instead insist the latter act of clinging to figureheads is universal proof of the former?

  7. Ellen says:

    There is a man in my home town who was a pilot in Air Force during the Vietnam War. During a battle, he engaged in an intense fight with a Vietnamese pilot in a MIG and shot the MIG down. The pilot ejected. Some years later, he found out the Vietnamese pilot’s name and went to see him. The two men have become good friends. They have honor and respect. Antifa has neither.

  8. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Just some food for thought, do you know what other group destroys monuments of the past?


  9. Magash says:

    I know that I should be more charitable but I can’t help thinking that what needs to happen is that these Confederate memorials need to be removed from their places of honor and set in museums. Next to them there needs to be large brass plaques that says, “This is a memorial to the American Civil war that members of the Democratic party started to perpetuate the institution of slavery. It was erected by members of that same party during the years it actively attempted to resisted the application of the Thirteenth Amendment through the use of Jim Crow laws. We should never forget.”

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