A flag carried by a Japanese soldier who was killed during World War II is returning to his family

Jul 20, 2023, 10:16 AM | Updated: 12:02 pm

A flag carried by a Japanese soldier killed in action during World War II was handed over Thursday by the USS Lexington Museum in Texas to a nonprofit organization for return to the man’s family.

Known as a Good Luck Flag, it is covered with the signatures of Shigeyoshi Mutsuda, his family and friends. The Corpus Christi museum where it was displayed for 29 years gave the flag to the Obon Society, a nonprofit organization that has returned about 500 similar flags, known as non-biological human remains, to descendants of Japanese service members killed during the war.

“This is all that’s left of this man” to return to his family, said Obon Society co-founder Rex Ziak. “They feel exactly the same as Americans when they receive the bones or teeth” of relatives who were identified and returned decades after being killed in war, he said.

Hirofumi Murabayashi, consul general of Japan in Houston, expressed appreciation to the museum for willingly handing over the flag and said the transfer symbolizes the friendship between the United States and Japan.

“He (Mutsuda) was killed in action and his body was not found … there’s no remains,” Murabayashi said.

“The only remains will come back to the family” to be reunited with his wife, who died in May at age 102, but whose funeral has been delayed until the flag is returned, Murabayashi said.

The flag, known as Yosegaki Hinomaru, has been displayed at the museum aboard a WWII aircraft carrier since it was donated in 1994, according to museum director Steve Banta. He called the donation routine and said the museum has been unable to locate who gave the flag to the museum because of what he called record-keeping issues at the time.

Mutsuda’s signature on the flag was recognized by one of his sons, now 82, who saw an image of the flag and also recognized the signatures of other family, friends and neighbors, confirming the flag was carried by his father, according to Ziak.

The signatures match those in a family photo of Mutsuda holding the flag and surrounded by family members before he left for war, Ziak said.

Who found the the flag and under what circumstances is not known, Ziak said.

“Often soldiers will search battlefields for sensitive information, like maps, and find flags and other things and collect them as souvenirs,” Ziak said.

The flags could be rolled and carried easily and service members “brought them home by the thousands” as souvenirs, according to Ziak.

The tale of how, or even where, such items were found is then often lost to the passage of time, according Ziak, as the veterans return home and store them away until they are found after the service member’s death.

The flag will be returned to the two sons and daughter of Shigeyoshi Mutsuda in Tokyo later this month during a ceremony at a shrine to Japanese war dead in Tokyo.

National News

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs poses in Los Angeles, Monday, July 15, 2024. Tubbs says he is r...

Associated Press

Former mayor known for guaranteed income programs launches bid for California lieutenant governor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Michael Tubbs is running for lieutenant governor of California, returning to politics four years after voters in his Central Valley hometown ousted him as one of the country’s youngest mayors following his reboot of guaranteed income programs for the poor that made him a star. The 2026 campaign, announced Wednesday, offers […]

47 minutes ago

FILE - A logging truck drives on the Interstate 5 bridge that spans the Columbia River and connects...

Associated Press

Aging bridges in 16 states will be improved or replaced with the help of $5B in federal funding

Dozens of aging bridges in 16 states will be replaced or improved with the help of $5 billion in federal grants announced Wednesday by President Joe Biden’s administration, the latest beneficiaries of a massive infrastructure law. The projects range from coast to coast, with the largest providing an additional $1.4 billion to help replace two […]

2 hours ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a 2024 Prosperity Summit Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in North Las Vegas, ...

Associated Press

Biden aims to cut through voter disenchantment as he courts Latino voters at Las Vegas conference

LAS VEGAS (AP) — President Joe Biden is trying to shore up support among disenchanted voters key to his reelection chances as he meets Wednesday with members of a Latino civil rights organization in the battleground state of Nevada. Biden is set to deliver an address to the UnidosUS annual conference in Las Vegas, where […]

2 hours ago

FILE - The Mirage Hotel and Casino is seen in Las Vegas, on May 3, 2018. Gambling ends Wednesday, J...

Associated Press

After reshaping Las Vegas, The Mirage to be reinvented as part of a massive Hard Rock makeover

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Mirage is about to vanish from the Las Vegas Strip. Gambling ends and the doors close Wednesday at the iconic tropical island-themed hotel-casino that opened in 1989 with a fire-spewing volcano outside, and Siegfried & Roy’s lions and dolphins inside. Frenzied final days have seen standing-room crowds wagering to win […]

6 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives during the second day of th...

Associated Press

The stepped-up security around Trump is apparent, with agents walling him off from RNC crowds

MILWAUKEE (AP) — On the floor of the Republican National Convention Tuesday evening, vice presidential candidate JD Vance greeted and shook hands with excited delegates as he walked toward his seat. It was a marked contrast from former President Donald Trump, who entered the hall a few minutes later and was separated from supporters by […]

6 hours ago

Texas delegates cheer during the Republican National Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Milwauk...

Associated Press

What to watch as the Republican National Convention enters its third day in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The third day of the Republican National Convention kicks off Wednesday with Republicans — led by the newly nominated Donald Trump and JD Vance — shifting to issues of national security and foreign policy. Republicans are expected to focus on Democratic President Joe Biden’s handling of the ongoing crises in Europe and […]

7 hours ago

A flag carried by a Japanese soldier who was killed during World War II is returning to his family