After nearly 70 years of searching, a Korean War Navy veteran has finally reunited with the woman he fell in love with. Duane Mann first encountered Peggy Yamaguchi in 1953 while his unit was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan.
Peggy worked as a hat-check girl at an Air Force NCO Club, where the 22-year-old Duane worked as a slot machine repairman. Their connection was immediate, and they courted each other for 14 months.
“I loved to dance, and she and I found out we could dance together, I mean, to where people would watch us. And gradually we fell in love, we couldn’t stop it,” Mann fondly recalled. However, Mann’s military duty abruptly called him back to the U.S. two months earlier than expected.
At the time, Yamaguchi was pregnant with his child, and he promised to send for her so they could marry and raise their family together. Unfortunately, upon his return home, Mann discovered that his father had squandered all his savings, which he had intended to use to bring Yamaguchi to the U.S.
Mann and Yamaguchi maintained regular correspondence, exchanging letters until Mann suddenly stopped receiving them after about a month. Later, he discovered that his mother had intercepted and destroyed Yamaguchi’s letters because she opposed his relationship with a Japanese woman.
In one of the last letters he received from Yamaguchi, she disclosed that she had miscarried their child and subsequently married another man. This news devastated Mann, solidifying his belief that he had abandoned her. He carried the weight of guilt and sorrow for the rest of his life, haunted by the fear that Yamaguchi thought he had forsaken her during her pregnancy.
Recently, Mann’s local news station, KETV NewsWatch 7, aired his story, which garnered widespread attention globally. Japanese media also covered Mann’s lifelong quest to find his lost love.
Theresa Wong, a 23-year-old Canadian researcher working for the History Channel, felt deeply touched by Mann’s story and decided to launch her investigation. Her search led her to discover a 1956 article titled “Tokyo bride enjoys life in Escanaba,” which provided Yamaguchi’s last name and an address to pursue further.
Armed with this valuable piece of information, Wong eventually uncovered a lead. It turned out that Yamaguchi, now 91 years old, had relocated to the United States with her husband, who served in the Navy. They settled in Escanaba, Michigan, just a few states away from Mann’s residence in Iowa. In Michigan, Yamaguchi raised three sons with her husband, who is still alive. Upon learning about their mother’s past, her adult sons were deeply moved by the story.
Following Wong’s lead, reporter Michelle Bandur reached out to Yamaguchi’s son, Rich Sedenquist, who shared a video clip of Mann’s quest with his mother.
Upon seeing the clip, Yamaguchi exclaimed, “I remember him! He cared about me, you know,” expressing her fond recollection of Mann.
Mike Sedenquist, Mann’s brother, was deeply moved by Mann’s unwavering determination to reconnect with their mother. “He’s able to fulfill his dream, his lifelong dream of finding the woman he met and fell in love with, and what a wonderful story!” Mike exclaimed.
Mike also shared a poignant revelation: his middle name is Duane, realizing that he was named after his mother’s first love.
The long-awaited reunion between Mann and Yamaguchi finally took place in a conference room at Escanaba’s Island Resort and Casino. As Mann caught sight of his former partner, he exclaimed, “Peggy!” The two embraced warmly, and within moments, they were transported back to their cherished memories of Japan.
Mann opened up to Yamaguchi about the challenges he had faced in the past and shared old photos of her that he had carried in his wallet for nearly seven decades. “I’ve thought about that my whole life, I was worried that you thought I abandoned you,” Mann confessed. “And I’m here to tell you that I never abandoned you. I simply couldn’t find you.”
Moved by Mann’s heartfelt words and the photos he had kept, Yamaguchi expressed her gratitude. “Thank you for remembering and saving all the pictures, you must have loved me,” she said, embracing Mann with affection.
Yamaguchi reassured Mann that she had never felt abandoned, and Mann described their reunion as “a freeing experience” for him.
Witness their emotional reunion unfold in the video below.