war memorabilia

Oban Society

A World War II veteran from the Inland Northwest traveled to a village in rural Japan Tuesday to personally return a "good luck flag" he picked up from the body of a fallen Japanese soldier on the Pacific island of Saipan in the summer of 1944.

"Taking the flag kind of bothered me because it is so special,” said Marvin Strombo, 93.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor who now lives in Lincoln City, Oregon, has vivid memories of the surprise strike on the Pacific Fleet that pushed the U.S. into World War II. Ed Johann, then a 17-year-old apprentice seaman, was crewing a hospital ship's water taxi when the first fighter bombers came over the horizon.

As museums and historians polish exhibits and remembrance programs for the 75th anniversary on Wednesday, Johann recalled the attack that killed more than 2,300 U.S. servicemen.

Obon 2015

A pair of World War II veterans from the Pacific Northwest and their escorts will return 70 inscribed Japanese flags Tuesday directly to the prime minister of Japan.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Seven Pacific Northwest veterans of World War II leave for Tokyo Thursday. They're carrying 70 captured Japanese flags to return for the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Some aging veterans of World War II are embarking on one more mission. The object is to return Japanese flags taken as war souvenirs from Pacific battlefields.

A collector of World War II memorabilia has succeeded in a daunting quest thanks to help from the Japanese government. The veteran from Clarkston, Washington has found the right person to receive a Japanese war flag taken in battle nearly 70 years ago.

Years ago, memorabilia collector George Koller bought an inscribed "good luck flag." It originally belonged to a Japanese fighter pilot killed in combat. Last year, Koller asked the Japanese consulate in Seattle for help to give the flag back.

Wednesday will mark the 67th anniversary of the Japanese surrender to end World War Two. With each passing anniversary, there are fewer and fewer living witnesses to the event. Time is also running low for an aging U.S. Marine veteran who wants to return a captured Japanese war flag.

Ex-U.S. Marine George Koller of Clarkston, Washington collects war memorabilia. Among his possessions is an inscribed "good luck flag" carried into battle by a Japanese fighter pilot. The airman's plane crashed into the jungle of New Guinea late in World War II.