The Man Who Fought WWII For 30 Years

Samuel Reason | February 17th, 2018

The mission was to stay out of sight and collect information about the Allied troop movements. The Location was the island of Lubang in the Philippines. Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda from the Japanese Imperial Army was tasked with a Rambo-like top secret mission: him and his four man team against the world. At least that is what he understood.

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The orders? Disrupt enemy forces, gather intelligence, never give up and under no circumstances were they to surrender. Hiroo took those orders in 1944 and followed them to the letter, making him one of the most dangerous soldiers to come out of World War II.

Even after the American forces overran the island completed, Hiroo’s team retreated into the jungle to continue their guerrilla warfare. Eating coconuts four times a day and blasting enemy supply chains – that is what Hiroo ended up doing for the next 30 years. But hang on didn’t war end in 1945? It did indeed but not for Hiroo. Him and his team believed the reports of the end of the war were just propaganda by the Allied forces! So what did he do for the next 30 years?

Rigged transport ships to explode and shoot at anyone who moved. Entering hundreds of gunfights with U.S. troops garrisoned on the island and also with the Filipino police force. They survived off coconuts and bananas found in the jungle and when they ran out of beer? Then it was time for dastardly night raids into the town to steal supplies.

No matter how many Japanese pamphlets or newspaper clippings the Filipino authorities dropped, Hiroo could not conceive that it was possible that his homeland had surrendered. So his crack team of jungle fighters continued to shoot their rifles at the “enemy” and gather intel. This continued until 1972 when Hiroo’s final squad member was killed: he was now a one man army. Would he finally give up? Never.

He continued to evade capture and fight crazy gun battles, killing more policeman than Al Capone – it is safe to assume the locals hated him. And the Japanese Army where were they? No they wanted no part in this crazy lieutenant who was still on his mad renegade mission; they had already declared he was dead.

Only in 1974 was there finally a breakthrough. A Japanese college student called Norio on a trek found Hiroo’s deep jungle hideout. Norio explained the war was over, but Hiroo was adamant that he could not surrender until receiving orders from his superior officer.

Norio tracked down his retired superior officer in Japan. Finally after more than 30 years of causing havoc to the island of Lumang, Hiroo came out of the jungle and surrendered his sword to the Filipino president. Amazing to think for three whole decades he refused to lose and fought on without any resupplies. Even the most hard-core survivalist may be hard pressed to live in the jungle for that long.

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