At 91, A Navy Veteran Finally Tracks Down His Long Lost First Love After 70 Years(video)

At the age of 21, Duane Mann found himself deployed to Japan in 1953, during the concluding stages of the Korean War. Assigned to Yokosuka, he played a crucial role in handling priority Navy cargo at an airport alongside six other Navy personnel. During his off-duty hours, Mann took on the role of a slot machine repairman at the Air Force Non-Commissioned Officers Club. It was at this club that he first laid eyes on Peggy Yamaguchi, the hat check girl, a woman who would occupy a special place in his heart for over 70 years.

Mann and Yamaguchi's love story unfolded on the dancefloor and during scenic trips, leading to a pregnancy. However, as they made plans to marry, Mann received unexpected orders to return to the United States earlier than anticipated.

Facing the challenge of a rushed departure, Mann reassured Yamaguchi, saying, "Don't be afraid. When I get home, I am just going to send for you."

Upon Mann's return, he discovered that his savings earmarked for Yamaguchi had been spent by his father. Despite this setback, Mann and Yamaguchi maintained their connection through letters. He promised her that he would soon accumulate enough savings after securing a job in a highway construction company.

Unknown to Mann, his mother destroyed the letters sent by Yamaguchi. She disapproved of his intention to marry a Japanese girl, keeping him in the dark about Yamaguchi's continued correspondence.

Years later, Mann learned the devastating truth. In a final letter from Yamaguchi, she informed him that she had married an Air Force man, and tragically, she had lost their baby. The news left Mann profoundly devastated, marking the end of their once-promising love story.

Despite leading a life that included two marriages and the joy of raising six children, Duane Mann could never shake the memories of Peggy Yamaguchi from his mind. At the age of 91, Mann still carried the weight of remorse for leaving Yamaguchi behind when he returned to the United States.

Haunted by this regret, Mann felt compelled to find Yamaguchi and share his feelings. In May 2022, he posted a heartfelt plea on Facebook, accompanied by a photo of Yamaguchi, urging anyone with information about his lost love to reach out.

Mann's story gained widespread attention globally, even making its way to Japanese media. History Channel researcher Theresa Wong, moved by Mann's journey, took it upon herself to track down Yamaguchi. She discovered a 1956 newspaper article titled "Tokyo bride likes life in Escanaba," which provided the crucial information needed to locate her. Surprisingly, Yamaguchi had been living in the United States all these years, just 650 miles away from Duane's home in Iowa, and had settled, raising three sons.

The long-awaited reunion between Mann and Yamaguchi finally took place at the Island Resort and Casino outside Escanaba in June 2022. Witnesses were deeply moved as the pair, separated for 70 years, saw and embraced each other.

As they sat together, the decades between them seemed to vanish, replaced by heartfelt conversations, reminiscing, and laughter. Yamaguchi, with affection, asked Mann about their past dances. However, Mann had an important message to convey.

"I'm here to tell you that I didn't abandon you at all. I just couldn't find you," Mann reassured Yamaguchi, who nodded in understanding. In response, Yamaguchi expressed her gratitude, saying, "Thank you for remembering and (saving) all the pictures. You must have loved me."

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