Captured Japanese battle flag donated to The National World War II Museum

Historic artifact taken to Davenport Goodwill store

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IOWA CITY — In the end, it came down to doing the right thing.

A Japanese battle flag that was donated to Goodwill of the Heartland's Davenport store will be donated to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, La., rather than being sold for more than $4,000.

The flag, captured by United States forces after the battle of Tarawa Island during World War II, was originally listed on Goodwill’s online auction website, When bids for the flag topped $4,000, Jason Wilcox took a closer look at the listing.

"When I discovered the item was an important part of our military history, our retail leadership team didn’t feel right about selling the flag," said Wilcox, Iowa City-based Goodwill’s e-commerce lead. Instead, they agreed to donate the military artifact to the Louisiana museum.

The Japanese Imperial Navy raised the flag during its occupation of Tarawa, an atoll in the central Pacific Ocean. On Nov.  20, 1943, the United States 2nd Marine Division attacked Tarawa in an effort to end the Japanese occupation of the island.

The flag donated to Goodwill has the following inscription written along its border: “CAPTURED FROM JAPANESE IMPERIAL MARINES NOV. 24 1943 ON BETIO ISLE IN TARAWA OF GILBERT ISLAND. WILLIAM PO. KULBEIEDA 3BN. K CO. 8 MARINES 2ND MARINE DIV.”

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