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.

United States News

FILE - President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his economic agenda at a training center run by Labo...

Associated Press

As employers face labor shortages, Biden administration rolls out playbook for training workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday is expected to release a playbook on best practices for training workers as the low 3.8% unemployment rate and years of underinvestment have left manufacturers, construction firms and other employers with unfilled jobs. Worker shortages have been a frustration for some employers, who upped their investments in […]

50 minutes ago

The Iron Gate Dam is seen in Hornbrook, Calif., Sept. 17, 2023. The dam is one of a series of four ...

Associated Press

Things to know about the Klamath River dam removal project, the largest in US history

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The largest dam removal project in United States history is underway along the California-Oregon border. The project will remove four dams on the Klamath River. Work has already begun on removing the smallest of the four dams. The other three will come down next year. The project is part of a […]

3 hours ago

FILE -Oakland County Judge Kwame Rowe looks towards witness during cross examination, July 27, 2023...

Associated Press

Michigan judge to decide whether Oxford High School shooter gets life in prison or chance at parole

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A teenager who killed four students at Michigan’s Oxford High School will learn Friday whether he will spend his life in prison or get a chance for parole in the decades ahead. Judge Kwame Rowe will announce his decision over video conference, weeks after hearing from experts who clashed over Ethan […]

5 hours ago

FILE - From left, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa...

Associated Press

The far right has been feuding with McCarthy for weeks. Here’s how it’s spiraling into a shutdown.

WASHINGTON (AP) — With little time left to prevent a government shutdown, the House is in a familiar position: effectively paralyzed as conservatives feud with Speaker Kevin McCarthy over matters large and small. McCarthy has pushed the Republican conference to embrace a short-term funding plan that would also include a sweeping Republican proposal for the […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

186.000 migrants and refugees arrived in southern Europe so far this year, most in Italy, UN says

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency said Thursday that some 186,000 migrants and refugees arrived in southern Europe so far this year, the vast majority in Italy. Between January and Sept. 24, over 2,500 people seeking to cross the Mediterranean were found dead or are still missing, a significant increase from the 1,680 […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Hawaii authorities search for man with handgun he gets into scuffle on Army base and flees

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii authorities were looking for a man who fled with a handgun after getting into a scuffle while trying to talk to soldiers at an Army base, officials said. No shots were fired but the Army treated it as an “active shooter situation” and two military bases on Oahu went into lockdown […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Sanderson Ford...

Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford congratulates D-backs’ on drive to great first half of 2023

The Arizona Diamondbacks just completed a red-hot first half of the major league season, and Sanderson Ford wants to send its congratulations to the ballclub.



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.

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