Duane Mann and Peggy Yamaguchi began planning their life together in 1953, just before the Korean War ended and tore them apart.
Duane Mann, a U.S. Navy veteran, has carried a burden on his heart for nearly 70 years. He’d had a love affair with Peggy Yamaguchi, a lady he hoped to marry while stationed in Japan as a young lieutenant. Life had separated them, but Mann was determined to find her at the age of 91.
Mann requested assistance in locating Yamaguchi in a Facebook post dated May 1. “I am going to attempt one more time to find this Japanese girl or one of her family members,” Mann wrote, posting a photo of Yamaguchi.
Then he told their incredible — and terrible — tale.
Mann was stationed in Japan from 1953 to 1954. He met Yamaguchi, who worked in the hat check room at a military officers’ club, while residing in Tokyo. “Peggy and I, we started to dance,” he told The Washington Post one evening.
The two rapidly fell in love after that. Mann stated on Facebook, “We could dance quite well together and entertained a lot of people gazing on.” “It took less than 6 months for both of us to fall in love.”
Yamaguchi became pregnant shortly after the couple agreed to marry. The Korean War ended before they could marry, and the Navy returned Mann to the United States.
Mann posted on Facebook, “When I boarded an aircraft, I left a very unhappy girl shedding many tears, also pregnant.” “I reassured her that she didn’t have to be concerned because I had saved enough money to send for her as soon as possible.”
But things didn’t turn out the way Mann had hoped.
Mann learned that his money was vanished when he came home to Pisgah, Iowa. Mann had left his bank account in his father’s name in the event that he was killed in war, and his father had squandered every penny.
Mann told The Washington Post, “Every bit of it.” “I would not have returned home if I had known I didn’t have any money.”
Mann addressed the circumstances to Yamaguchi in a letter. To rebuild his finances, he acquired a job and began working in construction. The letters from Yamaguchi halted after that, until Mann received one from her informing him that she’d miscarried their child and married someone else.
Mann stated on Facebook, “That’s when I found out that my mother had been burning all of Peggy’s letters because she didn’t want me to marry a Japanese girl.” His mother wished for him to marry someone from their church.
Mann did. He had six children after two marriages. But he never forgot about the woman he’d met in Japan and fallen in love with.
Mann posted on Facebook regarding the termination of his relationship with Peggy, “I was saddened and terribly puzzled.” “So, I’ve been looking for Peggy for the past 70 years because the most terrifying thing is that she must have assumed I abandoned her!”
The internet took over at that point. Mann’s message rapidly went viral, garnering attention from Omaha television station KETV and even making headlines in Japan.
“I left her standing there, pregnant,” he told KETV, “and that continued to haunt me more and more over the years.”
Mann’s pleading touched a young woman called Theresa Wong, who works as a researcher for the History Channel in Vancouver. According to The Washington Post, she began her search for Peggy Yamaguchi online and discovered that she was living in Escanaba, Michigan, just a 14-hour trip from Mann’s home in Iowa.
Peggy Yamaguchi, now Yamaguchi Sedenquist, said, “I remember him.” She’d married someone else in 1955 and had three sons with him, just as she told Mann. But she hadn’t forgotten about her handsome American beau. In truth, she’d given her eldest kid the name “Duane” as a middle name.
The two families set up a reunion, and Duane Mann and Peggy Yamaguchi Sedenquist reunited over 70 years after their sorrowful parting. They hugged and talked about their dance days in Japan. Yamaguchi also assured Mann that she would not be abandoned by him.
It’s a nice ending to an old heartbreak for Mann, who is 91 years old. He told the Washington Post, “I’m at peace with it now.”