CHANDLER, Ariz. — Since ancient times, military victories have been celebrated with a display of captured weapons, flags and sometimes even body parts.
World War II was no different, especially the Battle of the Pacific.
When Japanese soldiers and pilots would head into battle, they were often given a flag signed by members of their family. The flag was meant to be a symbol of strength and good luck.
But, those flags, the Yosegaki Hinomaru often became war souvenirs, lifted from the body of a dead Japanese soldier or pilot.
Bill Kalaf, Jr. of Chandler never really knew much about his father's service during the war. Just that he served in the Philippines, survived, and then came home to raise a family.
But when his father passed, Bill received a box of some of his belongings. Inside he found one of those flags.
Almost ready to hang it in his office, he stumbled upon an article about the OBON society, an organization in Oregon that repatriates these war souvenirs with the families they rightfully belong to.
This is Bill's story. How his small offering became an international gesture of goodwill and healing.
If you or someone you know has a flag or a war souvenir, you can reach the non-profit on their website.
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