Kazuki Takahashi, the creator of “Yu-Gi-Oh!,” a manga that became a worldwide phenomenon, reportedly gave his life earlier this year while trying to save a mother and daughter trapped in a rip tide. Initial reports said that Takahashi had died in a snorkeling accident, but a report from a military publication recently gave some more heartbreaking details that reveal that Takahashi didn’t just die; he apparently died a hero. On July 4, the 60-year-old author and illustrator was at the Mermaid’s Grotto in Onna, Japan. At some point, the mood at the popular diving spot changed, as a Japanese woman started yelling for help, according to the American military newspaper Stars and Stripes. The woman, her 11-year-old daughter and a U.S. soldier were trapped in the waves about 100 yards from the beach, a strong current pulling them out while 6-foot-tall waves crashed down on them. [firefly_embed] [/firefly_embed] U.S. Army officer and scuba instructor Maj. Robert Bourgeau, from Montana, was also on the beach that day with two students. He hadn’t even donned his equipment yet when he spotted the trio trapped in the waves and took off toward them, still wearing his sneakers. One of his students followed him, and the other stayed on the sand and called for help. The 49-year-old officer managed to reach the woman and her daughter, and with much effort was able to drag them to safety. Takahashi reportedly entered the water to help them, witnesses later reported, but he disappeared from sight. “The conditions were really, really rough,” he said. “I grabbed mom and I grabbed [the girl] and I just kicked for all life.” Tired out from the rescue, Bourgeau went out again to assist the soldier, but after attempting to help him, he realized that he was in very real danger himself, tired out from the whirlpool effect of the rough water. “That was one the hardest things I have ever had to do, I let [the man] go so I could save myself,” Bourgeau explained. “I didn’t think I was going to make it.” His students encouraged him as he struck out for shore. Bourgeau eventually made it to shore and was able to help guide the soldier in, too. As a result of his lifesaving efforts, he was nominated for the Soldier’s Medal, which recognizes heroic acts outside of enemy conflict. A Japanese Coast Guard told Stars and Stripes that two days after the ordeal, Takahashi’s body was found about 1,000 feet off the shore of Awa, in Nago City. An official with the Naha Coast Guard Nago station said the body showed signs of trauma consistent with an attack by a marine animal of some sort, potentially a shark, according to Fox News. [firefly_embed] [/firefly_embed] After finding out about the man who had perished in the waves trying to help save the three people he’d barely been able to save himself, Bourgeau had nothing but praise for Takahashi. “He’s a hero,” Bourgeau said. “He died trying to save someone else.” This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.