Source: U.S. Navy Memorial Collection, Jim Will Spry Papers, undated, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #677.082
Staff Person: Dale Sauter
This item is believed to be a souvenir flag obtained by an American soldier from a Japanese soldier. At the request of Lynette Lundin (preservation and conservation specialist in Special Collections), the flag was recently interpreted by Dr. Nobuaki Takahashi, an assistant professor at ECU. The results were quite interesting. The flag was presented to a drafted Japanese soldier, Nakamura (surname), Tomezoo (given name), upon his leaving for military duty. Along with the obvious footprints of a young child are several wishes by friends and family members. These include: “Do Your Best and Wait for Answer From a Supernatural Power,” (an old proverb from the soldier’s father) “Take Care, my Brother,” (from the soldier’s brother) “Congratulations for Your Draft,” “Keep Fighting and Keep Winning,” “Take Good Care of This Country,” “God is on Our Side,” “Sacrifice Your Body to the Country,” “Rapid Stream,” “Win, Triumph, Loyalty,” “Don’t Stop Shooting” and “I Wish You the Best for Your Military Success.”
The flag can be found in the U.S. Navy Memorial Collection, Jim Will Spry Papers, #677.082. The Spry Papers also include photographs, ephemera, correspondence and printed materials. Spry was born in Bayville, Tennessee, and attended the U. S. Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. He served as Radarman, Third Class, USNR, aboard the USS CATES (DE 763). He began his service in November 1944 and was honorably discharged in April 1946. There are only a few items of a personal nature present, so we do not learn much more about Spry from his papers. Interestingly enough, there is no mention of the flag in any other part of the collection. As a clue, the collection does contain a certificate giving permission for the American soldier to retain as property “one Japanese bolt-action and one (1) bayonette, both souvenirs of World War II”. Given these facts, we can assume the Japanese soldier’s ultimate fate.
For information on the Spry Papers or any other collections we hold, please contact us for further details.
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