Forefather’s flag returns home
March 15, 2009
TOKYO — A lot of things need to line up for something to come full circle after 60 years.
A Japanese family here now has in its possession a reminder of that.
During a ceremony Wednesday at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, members of the Kosakadani family were presented a Japanese flag that belonged to Cpl. Masayuki Kosakadani, who died during World War II.
The flag was brought to Japan by Air Force Col. Charles Eastman, who is in Japan with members of the Air War College in Alabama, where he is an instructor. Eastman got the flag from Casey Breslin, a friend who says the colonel is the only servicemember she knows, Eastman said after the ceremony..
Breslin is the granddaughter of Army Maj. Hugh Breslin Jr., who had possession of the flag for a short time until his death last year. Hugh Breslin had received it from Army Col. John H. Blair, who served with Breslin and who had kept the flag for more than 60 years. According to a fact sheet released by the U.S. Embassy, the exact circumstances relating to how Blair obtained the flag are unknown.
The Breslin family wanted the flag to go to the Kosakadani family, so Eastman sought the help of a Japan Air Self-Defense Force member at the college, who worked with the Japanese government to find them.
"He told me very early on that the outcome could be questionable," Eastman said. "Even if they found the family, they might decide that it was too hurtful to them and, actually, that it might bring back pain rather than honor."
Eastman said after the ceremony that he couldn’t have pictured a better ending. "It’s just absolutely perfect. I was honored to be part of it," he said.
"I’ve been in very close contact with the family by e-mail, and they’re just absolutely thrilled that it has culminated with the return home of the flag here to Japan and the family."
The family members were visibly appreciative.
"I am deeply moved that it was kept well and warmly for a long time and returned the way it is," said Yoshio Kosakadani, 67, son of Masayuki Kosakadani’s older brother, Kousa. "It was returned by the efforts of many warm people. I’d like to thank everyone."
The family hopes to write letters to the Americans who helped return the flag, which is destined for a place at the family altar in their Toyama prefecture home.