Collector To Return Japanese War Flag Nearly 70 Years After Capture
By Tom Banse
A collector of World War Two memorabilia has succeeded in a daunting quest... thanks to help from the Japanese government. This veteran from Clarkston, Washington has found the right person to receive a Japanese war flag taken in battle nearly seventy 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. Now, based on handwritten notes on the flag, the Japanese Ministry of Health has identified the fallen WWII pilot as Lance Corporal Kirihara. Then the ministry located a living brother northeast of Tokyo. Koller describes the letter he'll send to the brother, along with the wrinkled and yellowed flag.
George Koller: "This flag should be with you, not me. I should have thought of it sooner. Anyway, I'd like for you to have the flag as a gesture of friendship from the United States, at least from me."
Koller says the pilot crashed into the jungle of New Guinea late in World War II. He says a U.S. Marine recovered the flag.George Koller (left) shows the "good luck flag" to historian Priscilla Wegars of Moscow, Idaho. Courtesy photo.
Close-up of "good luck flag," known as hinomaru yosegaki in Japanese. Courtesy photo.
Previous coverage: Wash. Veteran Having Difficulty Repatriating Captured War Flag (Aug. 13, 2012)