Even in the face of the enemy, there is a human being.
That’s how a relative of fallen Marine, Sgt. Harry Dininger of the 22nd Marine Regiment, feels, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Dininger who battled the Japanese on the Marshall Islands during WWII sent his own family photos of Japanese soldiers with their own families.
They suspect he got them from the bodies of dead Japanese infantrymen on the battlefield and sent them to show his families what the Japanese were like.
Dininger himself died in battle just a few weeks after sending the photos.
David Wassel, a distant relative from Pennsylvania, found the photos in another relative’s basement along with a box full of letters.
He’s been spending nearly ten years trying to track down the Japanese family to return the photos to them.
“If I was in their position, I imagine I would want someone to do this for me,” he said to Stars and Stripes.
Wassel is getting the help of Japanese journalist Mariko Fukuyama who has interviewed Wassel and publicized his effort.
The photos have since been sent to the National Museum of Japanese History which did a forensic analysis of the photos, but failed to find any clues about where they could return the photos.
“Japanese families might know where their relative died but they didn’t get bodies back,” said Wassel.
Fukuyama shares his passion in returning the photos after reading some of the letters.
“They really speak to my heart — how close they look like my own family,” she said last week. “Many Japanese families would probably feel the way I felt when I saw them.”
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