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Japanese flags begin journey home

On Monday, five flags were returned to the Astoria-based nonprofit OBON 2015, created by local historian and author Rex Ziak and his wif,e Keiko Ziak. OBON 2015 will then attempt to locate the families in Japan.

By The Daily Astorian

Published on March 26, 2015 9:56AM

Last changed on March 26, 2015 10:55AM

Ed Bartlein, a WWII veteran and member of PNP-41st Signal, is helped up by Rex and Keiko Ziak, right, before handing over the Yosegaki Hinomaru flag he collected during the war at the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday. The ceremony was the first public transfer of Yosegaki Hinomaru to OBON so that they can be returned back to families in Japan.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian

Ed Bartlein, a WWII veteran and member of PNP-41st Signal, is helped up by Rex and Keiko Ziak, right, before handing over the Yosegaki Hinomaru flag he collected during the war at the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday. The ceremony was the first public transfer of Yosegaki Hinomaru to OBON so that they can be returned back to families in Japan.

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Ursula Bassett smiles as she shows a photo of her late husband, Dale Bassett, after returning the Yosegaki Hinomaru he brought back from WWII at the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian

Ursula Bassett smiles as she shows a photo of her late husband, Dale Bassett, after returning the Yosegaki Hinomaru he brought back from WWII at the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday.

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Hiroshi Furusawa, Consul General of Japan to Portland, bows to veterans and their families after they returned Yosegaki Hinomarus during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony. Japanese soldiers carried these Yosegaki Hinomarus — flags covered in well-wishes from family and friends— into battle during WWII. The flags were common war trophies taken by American soldiers. Now, 70 years later, veterans and their families are trying to make sure these flags return back to Japan.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian

Hiroshi Furusawa, Consul General of Japan to Portland, bows to veterans and their families after they returned Yosegaki Hinomarus during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony. Japanese soldiers carried these Yosegaki Hinomarus — flags covered in well-wishes from family and friends— into battle during WWII. The flags were common war trophies taken by American soldiers. Now, 70 years later, veterans and their families are trying to make sure these flags return back to Japan.

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Leslie “Buck” Weatherill, a WWII veteran and member of AT-162, shakes hands with Rex Ziak during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian

Leslie “Buck” Weatherill, a WWII veteran and member of AT-162, shakes hands with Rex Ziak during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday.

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JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian
Elaine Locke, daughter of Kenneth Clegg, tears up during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday. Locke returned the Yosegaki Hinomaru collected by her father.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian Elaine Locke, daughter of Kenneth Clegg, tears up during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday. Locke returned the Yosegaki Hinomaru collected by her father.

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Leland “Bud” Lewis, a WWII veteran and member of SC-186, gives a thumbs-up during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday. The ceremony was the first public ceremony for WWII veterans and their families to return Yosegaki Hinomarus flags. Lewis was one of several who gave their Yosegaki Hinomaru to OBON to be returned to Japan.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian

Leland “Bud” Lewis, a WWII veteran and member of SC-186, gives a thumbs-up during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday. The ceremony was the first public ceremony for WWII veterans and their families to return Yosegaki Hinomarus flags. Lewis was one of several who gave their Yosegaki Hinomaru to OBON to be returned to Japan.

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JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian
A Yosegaki Hinomaru is put up on a board during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian A Yosegaki Hinomaru is put up on a board during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday.

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JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian
Ed Bartlein, a WWII veteran and member of PNP-41st Signal, adjusts his medal before going up to the podium during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian Ed Bartlein, a WWII veteran and member of PNP-41st Signal, adjusts his medal before going up to the podium during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony at the Barbey Center Monday.

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JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian
Rex Ziak addresses the crowd during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony.

JOSHUA BESSEX — The Daily Astorian Rex Ziak addresses the crowd during the OBON 2015 Returning Ceremony.

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Seven decades after the end of World War II, a group of American veterans gathered in the Barbey Center at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria Monday to peacefully return souvenirs of war back to their rightful owners.

The souvenirs are Japanese flags the American soldiers acquired during the war. The flags were prepared by the Japanese soldiers’ families and friends before sending them off to war.

Each Japanese soldier carried at least one flag with them during battle.

Over the years, the American soldiers and their families discovered their souvenirs, known as Yosegaki Hinomaru, are actually personal items belonging to Japanese families.

On Monday, five flags were returned to the Astoria-based nonprofit OBON 2015, created by local historian and author Rex Ziak and his wife, Keiko. OBON 2015 will then attempt to locate the families in Japan.

“All the people who cared about that person, all the people who thought about him, were going to war with him,” Rex Ziak told the audience about the flags.

OBON and members of the 41st Infantry Division — National Guard units from the Northwest that served in World War II — hosted the ceremony.

The ceremony was the first official public transfer of the flags in America.

















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