Love

After Searching For 70 Years, A Veteran Finally Reunites With The Love Of His Life

Photo: Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock
elderly couple walking together

Can you imagine living without the love of your life for over seven decades, all because of your nationality? This 'Romeo and Juliet' story involved a 91-year-old veteran, Duane Mann, who finally completed his quest to find his first love — clearing his conscience 70 years after losing her.

Mann found love in Japan but was only able to stay several months before he had to return to the States.

Mann, a Korean War veteran, was sent to Japan in 1953 when he was just 22 years old. While stationed there, he met Peggy Yamaguchi, and it did not take long for the pair to fall in love. Although their relationship only lasted for a few months, Yamaguchi quickly got pregnant with their first child and the couple planned to get married.

Sadly, though Mann found love in Japan, his romance came to an abrupt end when the military sent him back to Iowa.

“When I boarded a plane, I left a very unhappy girl shedding many tears, also pregnant,” Mann wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post. “I reassured her not to worry as I had saved more than enough money to send for her as soon as I could.”

   

   

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However, things did not go as planned. Once Mann arrived home in Iowa, he found out that his family was going through “hard times." While away, Mann’s father spent all of his son's savings, making it difficult for Mann to return to Japan as promised.

Yamaguchi kept sending letters to Mann’s residence, updating him on her life and trying to keep their love alive, but Mann was not responding, making Yamaguchi believe their love story was over. It was later revealed that Mann had never even seen the letters due to his mother, who was burning them as they were coming in.

“She did not want me to marry a Japanese woman,” Mann said to KETV NewsWatch.

   

   

The last letter Yamaguchi sent to Mann stated how she had lost the baby and married another man, crushing Mann’s heart.

“This girl thinks I abandoned her, and that is just depressing,” Mann stated.

Throughout the years, Mann eventually got married and had a family of his own, but he still had hopes that he would one day see Yamaguchi again. As his kids grew up, he told them about his time in Japan with the love of his life. His kids were supportive of his dream and wanted to help their father complete his quest.

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With the help of social media, Mann was able to find Yamaguchi after last seeing her nearly 70 years ago.

Mann's family sent out a Facebook post, telling others about Mann and Yamaguchi’s love story and requesting help finding her. It took less than a month before the internet found the woman, only a few states away from Iowa, where Mann still resided.

After Yamaguchi married her navy husband in 1955, she moved to Michigan, where she raised her three sons. 

Theresa Wong, a researcher for the History Channel, was compelled by the story and initially located Yamaguchi by finding an article titled ‘Bride Like Life in Escanaba’ from the 1950s, providing searchers with a last name and eventually an address.

   

   

“I cannot imagine carrying around that kind of heartbreak for 70 years,” Wong told KETV NewsWatch. “I really just hope that this is the opportunity to get closure.”

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Mann finally met Yamaguchi face-to-face after a lifetime apart.

At first, Mann’s son and Yamaguchi’s children were scared that their parents would not talk like they did years ago, but they were entirely wrong. The two of them “hit it off” and started talking about the memories they made in Japan years ago. “Remember the dancing,” Yamaguchi says to Mann. 

Along with their reminiscing, Mann told Yamaguchi the truth about why he never came back for her.

"I was worried that you thought I abandoned you,” Mann said. “And I am here to tell you that I didn’t abandon you at all. I just couldn’t find you.” Mann even pulled photos of Yamaguchi out of his wallet.

She embraced him, showing the love and affection that remained, even after all these years. Yamaguchi’s son later revealed that Mann had an impact on Yamaguchi as well, making her son’s middle name ‘Duane,’ spelled exactly the same as Mann’s first name.

Many people do not get the chance to correct their past, but Mann had hopes that his life would be different.

He held onto hope and guilt for 70 years, dreaming that one day he would be able to correct his mistakes and make sure that Yamaguchi knew the truth.

Mann has since passed away, but the family was happy knowing that he could rest peacefully after reuniting with his first love.

Take a page out of Mann's book and remember that it is never too late to fix your mistakes. Do not leave life with regrets if you can avoid it.

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Lauren Reams is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news.