Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Loyal, Dedicated, Honorable and Fascinating Man Has Passed

I vaguely remember, but do recall, back in 1974 when the news broke about Hiroo Onoda finally surrendering to then Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. What makes a man surrendering to the authorities something memorable?  In this case is was that Mr. Onoda was a soldier in the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII, an Intelligence officer to be more exact. In 1945, his superior officer ordered him to remain behind on Lubang Island in the Philippines to collect intelligence on the American forces there. Even though Japan had surrendered in that year, Onoda remained on the island and carried out his orders, he did so for 29 years after the end of the war. He was never deterred from doing so, he was loyal and dedicated to duty for all that time. He survived on Lubang, stealing food, and wearing his by then overly patched army uniform for all those years. Even though a few attempts had been made to tempt him out of the jungle, with his family members making pleas for him to surrender (Japan had flown his family to the island), he did not come out of hiding until subsequent to 'globe-trotter' set camp near his location and tempted him into his camp. That globe-trotter notified Japanese authorities who then flew Onoda's former commander to the island to give him an order to surrender on his 52nd birthday.

Imagine that, being so loyal to your country and dedicated to duty as to remain behind, virtually as the 'last man standing, against all odds and doing it for 29 years and then not thinking that you had made a mistake or wasted your time. If that is not fascinating, nothing is at all.

Now he is gone, dead at the age of 91. Read more about him here at Fox News and here at Wikipedia, the sources for the above. His story is pretty awe inspiring. I commend his actions, honor his memory and offer my condolences to his loved ones even though he was our enemy. There are not many men among all of us as honorable as he. Yet, he was not he last Japanese Army holdout. In December of 1974, only months after the surrender of Ondoa, Teruo Nakamura was captured on Morotai Island in Indonesia. Nakamura was the actual last man to serve the Japanese Imperial Army of WWII. He passed in 1979, only 5 years after his capture. Absolutely amazing.

All the best,
Glenn B


Peter said...

I'm not so sure about the 'honorable'. It's estimated that he and his companions killed up to 30 Filipinos during their time in the jungle, injured many more, and had several armed encounters with police. All that after having heard many times that the war was over, but refusing to believe the news. He had to be amnestied by President Marcos before returning to Japan, otherwise he'd have faced trial for his crimes.

I can admire his dedication to his cause - but honorable? I'm not sure. By his lights, I guess he was; but by ours, not so much, I guess.

Glenn B said...

I think he was quite honorable. He believed the war was still ongoing. He believed he was fighting the enemy. He
did not kill anyone believing that peace had come about. Had he done that, kept on fighting after he believed that the war was over, then it would have been dishonorable. That after all was the deciding factor in his being pardoned, his belief that he was still under orders and still fighting the war, that he acted honorably. He did what soldiers around the world have done, fight and kill their perceived enemies. He did not capture and torture anyone for intelligence. He only stole food to survive to be able to continue his mission. Maybe that was all foolish but he was honoring his duty, his oath, his orders, his superior officers, his nation and his God (the emperor of Japan).

He was ordered to keep fighting and never surrender or commit suicide. Usually, Japanese soldiers were instructed to commit suicide rather than surrender and many did so; however, he was given specific orders not to do so before being stationed on Lubank. That he carried out his duty for all those years until given orders from his commander to cease and desist was, as I see it, quite honorable. Maybe he was foolish or plane out an idiot for believing that the war was still ongoing for 29 years but there is no dishonor in that as far as I see it and apparently as the president of the Philippines saw it.

All the best,