OKINAWA, JAPAN (WVNS) – In July, fans of the popular manga, Television series, and card game world of Yu-Gi-Oh were devastated to hear of author and Creator Kazuki Takahashi’s passing. New information has been released that sheds light on the circumstances – and the heroism – surrounding his death.

At the time of his passing, little was known about the circumstances surrounding how Kazuki Takahashi died. Takahashi was found floating face down by The Japanese Coast Guard on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. He was wearing snorkeling equipment when he was found, but until later investigation was completed it was not known why.

A story on Stars & Stripes, the Department of Defence’s own news site, reported that a “U.S. Army officer [has been] recognized for rescuing three people from a riptide at a popular Okinawa dive spot in an episode that apparently killed a well-known Japanese manga artist.

Maj. Robert Bourgeau, 49, of Missoula, Mont., the deputy operations officer for the 10th Support Group at Torii Station in Yomitan, was the one recognized. He was nominated by his command last month for the Soldier’s Medal (a medal given for heroic acts, not military conflict). The nomination came after his actions during a July 4 rescue at Mermaid’s Grotto in Onna.

Kazuki Takahashi attempted to aid Bourgeau in the rescue, unbeknownst to the American. Takahashi unfortunately drowned in the process, a pained Bourgeau told Stars and Stripes on Oct. 3.

“You play that ‘what if’ game a lot. This guy had a huge impact on the world.”

Maj. Robert Bourgeau

Bourgeau was at Mermaid’s Grotto meeting two students for instruction, when he heard cries of help from a Japanese woman, whose daughter and a fellow U.S. soldier were trapped in a rip current. He ran into the water to help, still wearing running shoes.

At some point during the rescue, Takahashi entered the water, Bourgeau said. He said he didn’t see the Japanese icon during the ordeal, but Bourgeau’s students caught glimpses of him until he disappeared beneath the waves. Several sworn witness statements given to the U.S. army prove that Takahashi attempted to aid in the rescue.

“He’s a hero. He died trying to save someone else.”

Maj. Robert Bourgeau

Takahashi was found two days later by the Japanese Coast Guard the next day floating off the coast of Nago, a city in the northern part of Okinawa. Bourgeau’s actions managed to save the two from the rip current, but he and Takahashi should both be recognized for their heroism and their actions to save and preserve human lives.