A 91-year-old Korean War Navy veteran is hoping to find his first love, who he met during his time as a second class petty officer in Japan in 1953.
Duane Mann, 91, wrote a Facebook post on May 1 hoping to find someone who recognizes the woman in a photo he took in 1953, whose name he says is Peggy Yamaguchi. In the post, Mann explains that while he was stationed in Japan from 1953 to 1954 at age 23, he met Yamaguchi at an Air Force NCO Club, where he worked as a slot machine repairman in his spare time and Yamaguchi worked as the “hat check girl.”
Mann recalls spending “a lot of time dancing together,” leading the two to fall in love and begin a relationship less than six months after meeting each other.
The couple planned to get married within three months; however, Mann was discharged two months early and sent back to the U.S. The 91-year-old says he had no choice but to leave her behind and that she was also pregnant at the time.
After returning home to Iowa in 1954, Mann discovered that his father had spent all of his savings, which he had planned to use to bring Yamaguchi to the U.S. Mann and Yamaguchi exchanged letters each week until, he says, he stopped receiving them after about a month.
Three months later, Mann received a letter from Yamaguchi stating that she had lost the baby and was married to an Air Force man from Wisconsin.
He also discovered that his mother had been burning Yamaguchi’s letters “because she didn’t want [him] to marry a Japanese girl.” He recalled feeling “devastated and deeply confused” at that moment and was “completely destroyed.”
“I don’t know why I didn’t become violently angry as I was so completely distroyed [sic] at the moment. So, I have spent the [last] 70 years trying to find Peggy because the most haunting thing of all is that she must have figured that I ABANDED [sic] HER!! I have never been able to shed this thought and have lived now to the age of 91 and carry a very heavy heart because of what all happened,” Mann wrote.
Mann added that he does not know Yamaguchi’s Japanese first name or her possible husband’s name and is hoping that someone who finds his Facebook post will recognize Yamaguchi.
“I AM HOPING, WITH ALL MY HEART, that this last posting can be SHARED to the extent that I may reach Peggy or a member of her family,” he writes in his post.
Feature Image via KETV
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