Grab the tissues boxes and settle down because this one’s an absolute tear-jerker!
91-year-old Duane Mann lost the love of his life, Peggy Yamaguchi, for 70 years, and this year in 2022, he was finally able to reunite with her and clear up so much heartbreak carried with him all those years.
The two met when Duane was in the Navy and was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. They quickly fell in love, she got pregnant and they talked about their big dreams and plans for their future.
However, out of the blue, the Navy decided to send Duane, who was a 22-year-old Iowa farm boy at the time, back to the United States to continue his duty.
The two made plans to stay in touch by writing to each other and Duane use his savings to get her to America so they could get married and live a happy ever after.
Things didn’t go as plan, however, Duane’s father had fallen on hard times and ended up spending his money. On top of that, he stopped getting letters from Peggy and didn’t find out until many years later it was because his mother was burning them, so he never got them.
“She didn’t want me to marry a Japanese girl,” Duane told KETV NewsWatch 7.
She kept the letters away from Duane long enough until Peggy ended up writing him that she lost the baby and married someone else, so his mother let him read that one.
“It was over, it set in that idea that I abandoned her, just wore me out,” Duane said. “That’s not an honorable thing to do.”
Duane’s son Brian said that he had supported his father’s lifelong quest to find his lost love so he could clear his conscience.
“I think it was a combination of guilt, confusion and sadness,” Brian told KETV NewsWatch 7. “We owe it to them to see if this is truly the Peggy that my dad is looking for.”
KETV NewsWatch 7 decided to step in and help Brian and his Dad find Peggy and in early May, Duane’s story of love, heartbreak, and hope was shared on social media and multiple news outlets, including Japanese media.
The viewers and readers of the story got in on the search and emailed a KETV and posted obituaries and photos, asking them if they had found Peggy.
Eventually, Rich Sedenquist, Peggy’s son, was found and contacted to see if he could ask his mom if she knew who Duane was.
“One way to find out,” Rich told KETV NewsWatch 7.
Rich put some headphones on his mother’s head and played the video clip of Duane from the news article talking about her.
“She, right away [said], ‘I remember him, he really loved me, you know,’” he said.
Peggy was alive and still living with her Navy husband she married in 1955, only this time she wasn’t in Japan. Peggy had been living in the same Michigan community in America all these years, where she raised all three of her sons.
“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,” Mike, Peggy’s other son told KETV NewsWatch 7.
A meeting was finally arranged for them to meet and they did. They both lit up reminiscing about their special time together in Japan.
“I was scared at first, I thought my mother and Duane wouldn’t talk like they did but when they started smiling and talking it was all worth it. it was all worth it for me,” Mike said.
Duane’s son Brian agreed with Mike.
“It’s a great example, as my dad has always been, ‘Follow your heart, be a kind person’ and not be afraid to take a step other people won’t,” Brian said. “It’s authentic to me.”