The last Japanese imperial soldier to surrender from World War II, Hiroo Onoda has died. He was 91-years-old. Hiroo surfaced from the Philippines jungle 29 years after the end of the war.
Stars and Stripes reported “ Onoda was an intelligence officer who came out of hiding, erect but emaciated, in fatigues patched many times over, on Lubang island in the Philippines in March 1974, on his 52nd birthday. He surrendered only when his former commander flew there to reverse his 1945 orders to stay behind and spy on American troops.
Onoda and another World War II holdout, Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi, who emerged from the jungle in 1972, received massive heroes’ welcomes upon returning home.”
Japanese soldiers of the World War II era are known for fierce loyalty to their military and nation. They often lived by the code of death over surrender.
After the 29 years in the Philippines jungle, Onoda bought a ranch in Brazil. He told the Associated Press in 1995 that he does not consider all those year in the jungle a waste.
Stars and Stripes continues, “I do everything twice as fast so I can make up for the 30 years,” Onoda said. “I wish someone could eat and sleep for me so I can work 24 hours a day.”
Onoda died last Thursday in Tokyo hospital at the age of 91.