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Friday, January 24, 2014

Hiroo Onoda soldier who fought for 30 years after the end of WWII.

"Every Japanese soldier was prepared for death, but as an intelligence officer I was ordered to conduct guerrilla warfare and not to die," – Hiroo Onoda

Hiroo Onoda a former Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer and commando who spent 29 years in in the jungles  on an island in the Philippines after World War II has died at the age of  91. Hiroo Onoda had fought in World War II and did not surrender in 1945. Believing that Japan’s surrender in WW II was enemy propaganda Onoda continued to follow his orders given to him by his superior officer.

At the age of 20 he enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army. Onoda trained as an intelligence officer in the commando class "Futamata" (二俣分校 futamata-bunkō?) of the Nakano Rikugun Gakko a secret Japanese Army Intelligence training School in Tokyo, the key training camp for Intelligence agents.  He was trained in propaganda, sabotage, martial arts, ninjutsu, survival, and guerrilla warfare.

On December 26, 1944, Onoda was sent to the Philippine Island of Lubang with a top-secret mission - to stay out of sight, collect information on Allied troop movements on the island, launch guerilla attacks, to disrupt the enemy. Onoda's orders also stated that under no circumstances was he to surrender or take his own life. Onoda spent three decades waging his own guerrilla war on Lubang Island.

Onoda conducted guerilla raids against the occupying armies, engaging in numerous gun battles with U.S. troops garrisoned on the island as well as the local Filipino police force. He managed to elude capture and retreat back into the dense jungles of Lubang.

For years, Hiroo Onoda would ignore attempts to get him to surrender. He dismissed leaflet drops and search parties as enemy trickery and propaganda. By 1959, Lieutenant Hiroo's military status in Japan was changed from "Missing in Action" to "Killed in Action" by the Japanese Army. However Onoda and his final surviving team member were still strategizing and executing raids, and collecting critical reconnaissance data.

Over the years, Hiroo continued to evade what he believed were “enemy patrols" sent to look for him and fight occasional gun battles with “enemy scouts”.  Finally, in 1974 a Japanese college student named Norio Suzuki came across Lieutenant Hiroo's hideout.  Norio told Hiroo that the war was over, but Hiroo refused to believe it.  Onoda told Norio the he would not surrender until he recieved orders from a superior officer.  Norio Suzuki returned to Japan, found Hiroo's former commander, and the Japanese government flew the former commander out to tell Onoda that World War II had been over for 29 years.

Almost thirty years after the end of WWII conducting jungle warfare and guerrilla raids Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda came out of the jungle, his rifle and his sword were in pristine and excellent working condition and he surrendered them to Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos.  During his time on the island he had killed over 30 Filipinos and Americans and wounded over 100 more people, but given the extenuating circumstances he was officially pardoned for his crimes. 

In 1984, he set up an organization, "Onoda Shizenjyuku", to train troubled Japanese youth  in Jungle survival methods  he had acquired during his decades in Lubang's jungles. His adventures are detailed in his book "No Surrender: My Thirty-year War."