The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Iwo Jima Mementos, a Faded Photograph and Child's Drawing, Bring Closure to Japanese Family
Framed photo of baby Japanese girl, sister of Chie Takekawa and a letter to her father is seen at a press conference in the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010. As a 21-year-old American GI fighting on Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, Franklin Hobbs III found them in the chest pocket of a fallen Japanese soldier and took them home as a souvenir. AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi.

By: Eric Talmadge, Associated Press

TOKYO (AP).- For decades, the faded photograph of a baby Japanese girl and a child's colorful drawing hung on a wall in the home of Franklin Hobbs III in America.

As a 21-year-old U.S. soldier fighting on Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, Hobbs found them in the pocket of a fallen Japanese soldier and took them as a souvenir.

Until recently, he tried not to think too much about the battle or the photo and drawing. Then, a few years ago, at his wife's suggestion, he decided to try to give them back.

For the girl in the photo and her sister, they meant the world.

Hobbs, now 86, returned to Japan this week for the first time since the war and met with one of the daughters whose life he changed by returning the items. Chie Takekawa had drawn the picture of an air raid drill that Hobbs found on her father — a man she barely knew and whose remains have never been found.

"As a child, I had always wondered when my father would come home from the war," Takekawa, 74, said Thursday with a beaming Hobbs by her side. "I feel like he has actually come back after all these years. I am very grateful."

The story of the mementos very nearly ended on Hobbs' wall.

Hobbs — himself an orphan from an early age — said he first found them in an envelope on a Japanese soldier lying dead outside a large cave. A corporal in the Army Signal Corps, Hobbs had just survived an intense battle on the beach, dug in deep with a buddy and eating raw bacon for three days.

When the fighting had calmed enough, he was assigned to drive a truck to help set up lines of communication for the U.S. troops. He was steering up a hill when he came upon several other Americans searching the bodies of three dead Japanese.

One of them was 36-year-old Matsuji Takekawa.

"I saw the letter sticking out and I said, 'I don't want any swords or anything, but I think I'll take this letter.' I just picked it up, I suppose out of curiosity. But I felt a little bad about it at the time."

Hobbs took it with him when Japan's surrender that August meant he could leave the island after eight months.

He considered himself lucky.

The battle, which began on Feb. 19, 1945, and lasted more than a month, claimed 6,821 American and 21,570 Japanese lives.

Closure for the Japanese families is rare. About 12,000 Japanese are still classified as missing in action and presumed killed on the island, along with 218 Americans.

Japan's government announced last week it is investigating two sites believed to be mass graves that may contain as many as 2,000 of the dead. Officials say it could take months to collect the remains, and identification is expected to be extremely difficult.

The battle for the tiny volcanic island became a symbol and rallying point for the United States after the U.S. flag was raised on its highest ground, Mount Suribachi.

For Hobbs, it was simply a killing field.

"It was just death everywhere, and I hated it," he said.

Hobbs graduated from Harvard Business School, married and raised a family. His wife framed the mementos and put them up in one of their sons' rooms. Hobbs never discussed his memories of the war.

"My kids didn't know what the drawing was; they thought maybe their mother had drawn it," he said. "I never really told my kids because there wasn't that much to tell."

He later divorced, and when his new wife, Marge, was going through his things at their home in Brookline, Massachusetts, she noticed the mementos and suggested Hobbs try to return them. They contacted a family friend, Reiko Wada, who could read the address on the envelope.

Though the address was outdated, Wada contacted the Japanese health ministry — which keeps records for pensions — and was able to find the family in the northern Japan city of Sanjo, where it owns a liquor store. To Wada's surprise, the baby in the photo — Yoko Takekawa — was living in New Jersey, where she had moved to do missionary work.

On a trip to Japan two years ago, Wada turned the photo and drawing over to Japanese officials, who had them delivered to the older sister, Chie, who still lives in Japan.

Chie Takekawa said they are now on the family altar, where she makes daily offerings of water — in her father's letters home, he often spoke of his constant thirst and how there was never enough water for the soldiers to drink.

"It's hard to bring back the emotions that I felt when I first saw the letter," she said. "We were all amazed that this could happen. I was just so happy."

Like Hobbs, Takekawa had tried to put the war and her loss behind her, but the return of the photo and drawing rekindled her feeling of a connection with her father and inspired her and her sister to join a government-sponsored trip to Iwo Jima for an annual memorial last March.

"When I got off the airplane I was shocked by how small an island it is," she said. "All my sister and I could do was cry. I felt I was walking on the soil where he is buried. I wanted to dig in my hands and try to find him."

Takekawa now intends to go to Iwo Jima every year. "I feel that somehow my father made this all happen," she said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Today's News

October 28, 2010

SFMOMA Presents Major U.S. Retrospective of Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

A Masterpiece from the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Agrigento Goes on View at the Getty Villa

Specially Equipped Silver Aston Martin First Driven by Sean Connery Sells for $4.1M in London

FBI Seizes a Forgery of Andrew Wyeth's Painting "Snow Birds" from an Auction House

Harry Blain and Former Sotheby's Vice Chairman Emmanuel Di Donna to Open New York Gallery

Caravaggio-Inspired Dutch Masterpiece Acquired for Fitzwilliam Museum

Documentation and Artwork, 1972-1985 by Cuban-American Artist Ana Mendieta at Galerie Lelong

Iwo Jima Mementos, a Faded Photograph and Child's Drawing, Bring Closure to Japanese Family

Christie's Sales of Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art to Offer an Impressive Array of Rare and Important Works

Oakland Museum of California Acquires Historic "All of Us or None" Poster Collection

Two 150-Year-Old Civil War Dolls Get X-Rayed at VCU Medical Center for Signs of Smuggling

Baltimore Nuns Auctioning Famous Baseball Card to Raise Money for Diocese

Kunsthaus Zrich Embarks on Ambitious Restoration Project on the Work of Alberto Giacometti

Irma Stern Makes New £2.4 Million World Record for South African Art at Bonhams in London

Harn Museum of Art Creates New Position to Increase Collaborations with University of Florida Faculty and Students

The U.S. Department of State and the Bronx Museum of the Arts Announce International Community-Based Visual Arts Program

Children's Spontaneity "Wiped Out by Teaching" Claimed Beatrix Potter in Forthright Letters for Sale at Bonhams

SFMOMA Debuts a New Body of Work by R. H. Quaytman

Leslie Hewitt Awarded 2010 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize

Sylvia Sleigh, Prominent Painter, Dies at Age 94, Seminal Work On View at the Hudson River Museum

Tate Launches The Muybridgizer App for iPhone, Free for the Duration of the Exhibition

Exceptionally Rare Darth Vader Costume to Be Offered at Christie's South Kensington

Audit Shows Records at National Archives in Washington at Risk of being Lost for Good

Saatchi Gallery Opens Second Installment of Museum-Scale Survey of Emergent British Contemporary Art

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa Wants Yale University to Return Artifacts to Peru

The Hayward Gallery Presents Seminal Works by Leading Artists in Move: Choreographing You

Special Exhibition Reconsiders John La Farge's Contributions to American Art in Centenary Year of Artist's Death

Successful Anniversary Year Boosts Meijer Gardens Attendance and Membership

Rudy Giuliani's New York City Hall Portrait, Painted by Everett Raymond Kinstler, is Unveiled

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lvy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful