New Trier Class Helps Return World War II Artifact To Japanese Family

Bob Roberts
December 05, 2018 - 8:35 pm

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Seventy-four years have passed since a 20-year-old Japanese Army private died in fighting on the Marshall Islands, carrying a battle flag inscribed with well-wishes from his family and friends.

It turned up at Winnetka’s New Trier Township High School, which has returned the flag to the soldier’s family.

It was almost lost forever. The flag was pasted to posterboard. It had fallen behind a cabinet and been forgotten until rediscovered in 2015 in an archives room in a building that was about to be demolished.

New Trier’s Japanese Club turned it over to a group that reunites such artifacts with Japanese families. It took three years to determine that Private Tokichi Shimizu carried it into battle and that an elderly brother and sister were still alive.

New Trier students and staff sent 55 letters with the flag when returning it in August. Senior Sam Pomerantz was amazed that the soldier’s 90-year-old brother, Teruo Shimizu, responded and was grateful.

“He said the letters were very heartfelt and moved him,” Pomerantz said.

Shimizu wrote that his brother was a border security officer in Manchuria before being transferred to the Marshall Islands.

“I have never received letters that moved me so much,” Shimizu wrote. “Thank you. I want to express my gratitude.”

Now, the club is raising money to help return similar flags. To date, the students have raised more than $1,000.