Salisbury woman will take dad's Japanese WWII flag to Pearl Harbor

Woman finds flag from WWII in her home
Robert Doyel Hartman (Source: Family)
Robert Doyel Hartman (Source: Family)

MOORESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - A Salisbury woman has had a piece of WWII history in her home for years. Now the Japanese flag she kept in a dark closet will soon be seen where America entered the war, Pearl Harbor.

Dianne Hall has seen a hand-sewn wool red and white Japanese flag her whole life. She remembers the scratchy wool against her skin when she was 5 years old.

"Thought it was blanket, kept me warm," Hall said.

Later she learned it was a flag and hung it in her son's bedroom and in her dad's man cave. Robert Doyel Hartman died in 1999.

"I didn't want it to go back into the closet again. It needs to go into history," Hall said.

Hall's father was a Mess Sgt. in the Navy during World War II.  He retrieved the flag from a Japanese battleship the HIJMS Nagato which surrendered in the Tokyo Bay area at the end of the war.  Hartman kept the documentation from August 30, 1945.

"Daddy climbed back on the crow and daddy said when it was announced that they captured the ship.  He said it was so amazing to sit up there in the crow's nest to see all these planes flying over about the capture of the ship," Hall said.

Hartman was on the USS Horace A. Bass.

"His ship was allowed to board the ship since they brought it in.  They went through the whole ship," Hall said, "They just went through and took things that they wanted."

Hall said he took the flag and some smaller items.  She found the veterans at Richard's Coffee Shop in Mooresville earlier this year and wanted to give them the flag to display.

"I will tell you the first time I held that flag the hairs on the back of arm stood up," said Lt. Colonel John Hedley, an army veteran.

Richard's Coffee Shop has a museum but Hedley didn't want to keep the Japanese flag in North Carolina. Hedley thought the flag should go to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

"I would love to have it in here it would get lost in here.  This is a phenomenal place put it's not like the Arizona memorial," said Hedley.

Roger Schiradelly was the veteran who brought it to Hedley's attention.

"And we discussed it and decided that flag was too big for here, not size, value.  Like she says it belongs to history," Schiradelly said.

History affects us all differently, and Schiradelly talks about the significance of flags.

"How do you feel about our flag?" Schiradelly asked.

The Japanese flag is more than 75 years old and it represents the end of a war.

"One of our Navy guys when we told him about it today got a tear in his eye," Schiradelly said.

Hall is so grateful that Schriadelly took the time to listen to her dad's story.

"I've always tried to listen," Schiradelly said, "History is so valuable in knowing where you're going because you're not going to know where you're going unless you know where you've been."

"I've been trying to tell everybody about the flag and I thought well is this flag important or not.  I don't want it to be thrown away I want it up for history," Hall said,  "I want people to see their history."

With the help of the local veterans, she will take it to Hawaii on Monday so the people of the United States, Japan and around the world can see history.

"The people from Japan can come there and can see their flag and be proud of it.  The Americans can see and they can see my father and the crew," Hall said, "It's important that my father be there and I wish my father could be alive to know that he's going to be there now. "

WBTV's Molly Gr antham helped veterans from Richard's Coffee Shop connect with the National Parks Service, which runs the memorial at Pearl Harbor.

"Brings attention to us worldwide, which is a big benefit for Mooresville, for North Carolina, for Richard's Coffee Shop," Schiradelly said.

"I'm very emotional about it," said Hall, "I'm very thankful and I'll never ever forget these guys that helped me out to do this."

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