Veteran’s lifelong quest of finding the love he lost 70 years ago ends with a sweet reunion

A Korean War Navy vet who had been trying for nearly 70 years to find his love has finally found him.

Peggy Yamaguchi was the first person Duane Mann met while his unit was stationed in Yokosuka (Japan) from 1953 to 1954. The 22-year old would work as a slot machine technician at an Air Force NCO Club where Peggy was a hat-checker girl.

Sparks flew and the couple enjoyed 14 months of marriage.

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“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 was ordered to return to America two months early by a sudden order. Yamaguchi was already pregnant at the time with his child, and he promised that he would send for her to marry him and start a family.

However, he discovered that his father had spent all of the savings he had saved to send Yamaguchi to the U.S.

a young Peggy Yamaguchi
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Mann and Yamaguchi continued to correspond regularly until Yamaguchi stopped receiving them after a few months. Later, he would learn that his mother had burned Yamaguchi’s letters because she didn’t want him to marry a Japanese woman.

Yamaguchi finally wrote Mann a letter informing him that Mann had lost their baby and that she had married another man.

“It was over. That was when I realized that I had to leave her. [It]I was just worn out. That’s not an honorable thing to do,” he said.

Yamaguchi was convinced that Yamaguchi had abandoned Yamaguchi while Yamaguchi was carrying their child. The veteran carried his guilt and grief with him for the rest his life.

Last month, Mann’s local news station, KETV NewsWatch 7, broadcast his story, which was shared globally. The Japanese media also ran stories about Mann’s lifelong search for his long-lost love.

Duane Mann during his time in the Navy
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Theresa Wong, a 23-year-old Canadian researcher for the History Channel, was so moved by Mann’s story that she decided to conduct her own investigation. She stumbled upon a 1956 article called “Tokyo bride likes life in Escanaba,” which provided a last name and an address to go on.

This piece of information was finally a lead.

Yamaguchi, now 91, had also moved to the U.S.A with her Navy husband. She lived just a few miles from Mann in Iowa at her home, Escanaba, Michigan where she raised her three sons.

Her husband is still alive, and her adult sons said they were moved by the story about their mom’s past.

Peggy Yamaguchi and Duane Mann hugging
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After the tip-off from Wong, reporter Michelle Bandur contacted Yamaguchi’s son, Rich Sedenquist, who showed his mother a video clip of the news story about Mann’s search for her.

“She right away [said], ‘I remember him! You know that he truly loved me.’” he said.

His brother, Mike Sedenquist, is deeply touched by Mann’s dedication to finding their mother.

“He’s able to fulfill his dream, his lifelong dream to find the woman that he met and fell in love with and, 70 years later, what a wonderful story!” he said.

Mike also revealed that his middle name is Duane, realizing he was actually named after his mom’s first love.

Peggy Yamaguchi and Duane Mann reminiscing about the past
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The couple finally reunited at the Escanaba Island Resort and Casino. Mann cried “Peggy!” upon seeing his former partner. They shared an embrace and soon they were talking about the wonderful times they had in Japan.

Mann explained the past to Yamaguchi and showed Yamaguchi old photos of him with Yamaguchi, which he had kept for almost seven decades in his wallet.

“And I’ve thought about that all my life, I worried that you thought that I abandoned you,” he told her. “And I’m here to tell you that I didn’t abandon you at all. I just couldn’t find you.”

“Thank you for remembering and [saving] all the pictures, you must have loved me,” Yamaguchi responded, hugging and kissing Mann.

Yamaguchi emphasized she hadn’t felt abandoned, and Mann told her their reunion had “really been a freeing experience for me.”

The video below shows their long-awaited reunion.

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