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A Soldier's Story

This time around, CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman proves that every soldier has a story. As usual, when he arrived in Brookings, Ore., he found a phone book, and randomly selected the name of Richard Kelly.

One woman in town couldn't help but shake her head and chuckle.

"The one person that's really caused me a lot of grief," said Brenda Jacques of the Brookings Public Library.

Kelly is 78 years old and in all his life he has never written a letter of complaint before - except to the Brookings Public Library.

"That's exactly right. That's how strongly I felt about it," he said.

The story of Kelly and his beef with the local library began three years ago.

He and his wife, Ann, had just moved to town when he decided to buzz down for some books.

He walked into the library and saw a display case - with a Samurai sword that belonged to a Japanese World War II pilot who had bombed America. And he wasn't talking about Pearl Harbor.

"The Japanese were going to be damn sure they bombed the continental United States. And they did," Kelly explained.

The pilot's name was Nobuo Fujita and, as the story goes, he had devised a way to catapult a floatplane off the deck of a submarine. The idea actually took flight over the Oregon sky Sept. 9, 1942. Fujita dropped two incendiary bombs that landed in the middle of the woods - way outside of town.

Supposedly, the idea was to start a huge forest fire that would panic America. But it had rained the night before, and in the end, the fire fizzled. America hardly noticed, and Nabuo Fujuita was all but forgotten, until the summer of 1962.

It was the annual Azalea festival and you-know-who was the guest of honor.

"They made him the local hero," said Kelly.

No doubt if Kelly had lived in Oregon at the time, he, too, would have signed this complaint petition that appeared in the local paper.

And yet despite the controversy, Fujita made several more trips to Oregon before he died just a few years ago. He always apologized profusely and even gave the city his Samurai sword as a peace offering, which, of course, brings us back to where this story started.

Boy, did Brenda Jacques get an earful that day.

"He would not listen to the fact that it was historical. He thought it was a shrine to the Japanese. He thought it should not be here; he wrote to the governor," said Jacques.

"It became an obsession," said Kelly.

"A fair amount of me was like, 'What are you making a big fuss about.' But by the time I finished typing the letter, I was in tears because then I understood," said his wife, Ann.

Richard Kelly wrote:

"I fought too long and too hard for the United States Of America to see an enemy attacker being glorified with public money."

Kelly was one of the Marines who took Iwo Jima…

" …and that was a bloodbath," he said.

Almost 60 years later, he still can't bring himself to even take the shrinkwrap off the movie "Sands Of Iwo Jima."

"I haven't gotten that far yet," he said. "I lost too many friends."

During Hartman's first visit, he really couldn't talk about it much, but when Hartman came back to check up on him two years later, Kelly says, "I had changed a lot, and I've changed for the better. I'm not living in the ghost of the guys that got killed."

Kelly says what made the difference was realizing that for the past 60 years, he'd been carrying an enormous load of guilt, guilt that he survived and his friends didn't. And Kelly says, once he saw that, "I started looking at the sword situation down there, and I realized that it's ancient history."

Today, he brings fresh flowers to Jacques. There is a decidedly different mood at the Brookings Public Library.

"Brenda and I have become friends. How about that?" Kelly says. Not only that, they are also co-workers.

Not long ago, Kelly started volunteering at the library and is now in charge of maintaining the display.

He says, "If I can criticize it, I can go back to it and contribute."

And that's the story of how two proud soldiers both found their peace at a little library on the Oregon coast.
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