After more than three weeks of medical treatment and recuperation, including extensive debriefing sessions with both Japanese and U.S. diplomats, the 96-year-old Japanese soldier found last month behind Butch’s Beach Burritos was released yesterday from North Ottawa Community Hospital. The soldier’s name continues to be withheld, as Authorities discovered the he has an older brother still living in Japan, and had hoped to provide a private reunion for the brothers in Tokyo, before either of them is subjected to the media scrutiny they are sure to attract.
Unfortunately, however, the long-awaited reunion will have to wait at least one more day, and Grand Haven Officials are now scrambling to contain a public-relations and diplomatic backlash after the 96-year-old soldier was found in Seoul, South Korea, wandering alone in the airport. Local Officials insist the man was delivered to Gerald R. Ford International Airport by Grand Haven Public Safety Officers, and was escorted to the Departure Gate by a Japanese diplomat serving as translator and travel companion. In Tokyo, the 96-year-old’s 98-year-old brother was disappointed, and also angry to find out he’d driven to the airport, and paid for parking, only to discover his brother had been lost again.
The question of how the 96-year-old man ended up alone in the Seoul Airport is already under investigation by Grand Haven Public Safety Department, Homeland Security, the Japanese Consulate, and a special sub-committee formed by The Downtown Development Authority to investigate the soldier’s travel itinerary and review focus-group results on the viability of using the old soldier as official spokesperson for next year’s “Visit Grand Haven” advertising campaign.
Details of the soldier’s story, surviving and spying for nearly 70 years without being discovered, remain shrouded in mystery, but according to an anonymous 19-year-old Candy Striper volunteering at North Ottawa Community Hospital, the soldier has spent some of his convalescent time in negotiations for the possible sale of book and movie rights to his story, and is said to have an insatiable craving for fried perch dinners, after spying on the American Legion for so many decades. The Candy Striper also reports that an attempt to reunite the soldier with his older brother via a Skype video call failed when the soldier “got all freaked out by an iPad”.
Authorities say the 96-year-old soldier spent last night at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and will be flown home to Japan within twenty-four hours. Officials in Tokyo have agreed to transport the soldier, via their best courtesy-van, to his brother’s retirement village thirty five miles outside the city, thus saving the brother from making two airport-runs in two days.