SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV)/Salt Lake County father, son who helped solve World War II mystery returns home

The return ceremony was hel...

The return ceremony was held at Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine.

Dick(Richard) Johnson

Dick(Richard) Johnson

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A father and son from Salt Lake County have recently returned from Japan after helping to solve a World War II mystery.

It was a life changing moment in the lives of a family in Hiroshima, Japan; Dick Johnson and his son Chris traveled from Utah to provide them with closure after 78 years.

"It was a very tender and sweet experience," Dick Johnson said.

"There was a very special feeling. It was intense. It was an honor to return the flag," Chris Johnson said.

The flag marked the homecoming for 21-year-old Japanese solider, Norito Myochin who was killed during the 1994 World War II battle.

"They consider that to be his spirit and it's coming home to them," Chris Johnson said.
Japanese soldiers kept these "good luck" flags folded under their shirts. They were signed by friends and family but if they were killed, the flags were often taken from soldiers' bodies as war souvenirs.

"The family and everyone associated with them, were so thankful to see this flag," Dick Johnson said.

Dick's father, a World War II Marine, brought the flag home after the way but just recently the OBON Society used the signatures and writing on the flag to trace it back to the long lost soldier.

"They consider it to be his non biological remains," Dick Johnson said.
Dick and Chris are now back in Salt Lake. 2News retraced their trip with an exclusive video from the OBON Society, which worked tirelessly to return soldier flags to their families.

A rare look inside the Shinto Shrine in Hiroshima, where the flag was blessed, then presented to the soldiers nephew and 83-year-old sister, Keiko Hirota.
"She seemed very touched by seeing this flag that had belonged to her brother," Dick Johnson said.

It was a very big event that brought local leaders and a lot of press. The families exchanged photos, gifts, a handmade quilt and took time to reflect at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial, the site of the atomic bomb blast.

"Back then we were on opposite sides of the war. Now 79 years later, we're connected as friends," Chris Johnson said.

Dick and Chris Johnson said they visited the Myochin's family farm and home where the soldier grew up.

"It was a very personal connection between our family and their family," Chris Johnson said.

Now, a moment that almost never came, thanks to a father and son who followed their hearts across the world. Keiko could finally lay her brother to rest.