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

A Korean War Navy veteran who had been trying to track down the woman he fell in love with nearly 70 years ago has finally reunited with his lost love.

Duane Mann first met Peggy Yamaguchi in 1953, while his unit was based in Yokosuka, Japan, from 1953 to 1954. The 22-year-old would work as a slot machine repairman at an Air Force NCO Club, where Peggy worked as a hat-check girl.

Sparks flew, and the couple went on to enjoy 14 months of courtship.

“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.

However, Mann was suddenly ordered to return to the U.S. two months early. Yamaguchi was pregnant with his child then, and he promised to send for her so they could marry and raise their family together.

But when he returned home, he discovered his father had spent all of his savings, which he had planned to use to bring Yamaguchi to the U.S.

Mann and Yamaguchi wrote to each other regularly until he stopped receiving them after a month. Later, he would learn that his mother had burned Yamaguchi’s letters because she didn’t want him to marry a Japanese woman.

Mann eventually received one letter from Yamaguchi, revealing the unfortunate news that she had lost their baby and had married another man.

“It was over. That set in the idea that I abandoned her. [It] just wore me out. That’s not an honorable thing to do,” he said.

The veteran carried around his grief and guilt for the rest of his life, fearing that Yamaguchi believed he had neglected her while she was carrying their child.

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.

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.

That piece of information finally provided a lead.

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

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

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! He really loved me, you know.'” 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.

The pair finally reunited in a conference room at the Island Resort and Casino in Escanaba. Mann cried “Peggy!” upon seeing his former partner. They shared an embrace, and within minutes, they were reminiscing about the wonderful time they shared in Japan.

Mann explained what happened in the past and showed Yamaguchi his old photos of her, which he had kept in his wallet for nearly seven decades.

“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.”

Watch their long-awaited reunion happen in the video below.

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