WWII vet flies to Japan to return 'good luck' flag to soldier's family
PORTLAND, Ore. – A WWII veteran is flying to Japan Wednesday to return a flag to the family of a deceased soldier, fulfilling a promise he made to himself while fighting overseas 73 years ago.
Marvin Strombo served as a sniper with the 2nd Marine Division, 6th Regiment.
As American forces fought to take the Japanese stronghold of Saipan, Strombo says he found himself separated from his company, behind enemy lines.
That's when he noticed a fallen Japanese soldier, and a “good luck flag” that the soldiers were given before they went to war.
“He had that flag folded next to his body,” the now 93-year-old Strombo remembered. “I knew that it was something special and was reluctant to take it. But I also knew if I didn't somebody else would, and it would be lost forever."
Strombo has held onto the flag for more than seven decades, and vowed to return the flag to the soldier's family.
The Astoria-based OBON Society heard about his story and identified the soldier as Sadao Yasue, using messages that relatives wrote on the flag.
Strombo will be heading to Japan to deliver the flag to Yasue's 89-year-old brother.
The OBON Society said that Strombo is the first living veteran to return something like this through their organization.