Japanese youth Onoda Hiroo was drafted into the army in 1942. At that time he was 20 years old, before being drafted, he worked in a private trading company and was actively involved in martial arts. At that time, the young man could not even imagine that for him the Second World War would continue for decades, and would end only in 1974.
In 1944, already with the rank of senior sergeant, Onoda was sent to a school that trained intelligence officers. But after a few months, studies had to be interrupted: Onoda Hiroo was appointed commander of a sabotage detachment and sent to the Philippines. The young officer was ordered to sabotage American military installations. Surrendering or committing suicide was strictly prohibited.
A month later, the island of Lubang, on which the Japanese group was operating, completely came under the control of American troops. The saboteurs had to go into the impenetrable jungle, from where they attacked the enemy's military facilities, and it happened that even on the fields of civilians. In addition to the commander, the group included Privates Yuichi Akatsu, Kinsichi Kozuka and Corporal Seichi Shimada.
The saboteurs had no connection with the outside world: they did not have a radio station, they naturally did not read newspapers. Therefore, they could not find out that the war had ended long ago. At the end of 1945, leaflets were scattered over the jungle from planes with orders from the Japanese command to lay down their arms and surrender. These leaflets fell into the hands of Hiroo Onoda, but he thought it was enemy propaganda.
A few years later, Private Yuichi Akatsu escaped from the group and surrendered to the Philippine police, and in 1954, Corporal Seichi Shimada was killed in a shootout with the guards. Two Japanese remained in the jungle, who did not want to believe that peace had come long ago.
By agreement with the government of the Philippines, a Japanese commission was created, which for several years has been looking for its soldiers. But it was not possible to find Onoda and Kozuki. In May 1969, they were pronounced dead and awarded the Orders of the Rising Sun.
In 1972, Onoda Hiroo was left alone, his subordinate was killed in another shootout. Two years later, Japanese student Norio Suzuki, traveling through the Philippine jungle, accidentally met a hermit warrior. The student told Onoda that the war had ended many years ago, and suggested that he get out of the underground. But the proud officer said that he obeyed only the orders of his commander, Major Taniguchi, who sent him to the island.
The young traveler returned to Japan and tracked down a major who, after the end of the war, worked in a bookstore. On March 9, 1974, Taniguchi flew to Lubang, contacted Onoda, wearing a military uniform, and announced the following order to him:
1. According to the order of His Majesty, all military units are exempted from carrying out combat operations.
2. According to Order No. 2003 on Combat Operations "A", a special group of the General Staff of the 14th Army is exempted from all operations.
3. All units and persons who are subordinate to the special group of the General Staff of the 14th Army must immediately cease fighting and maneuvers and come under the command of the nearest senior officers. If this is not possible, they should contact the US Army or their allies' armies directly and follow their instructions.
After 30 years, the guerrilla laid down his arms and surrendered to the government of the Philippines. Under Philippine law, Onoda faced the death penalty for robbery and murder, attacks on the police and the military during 1945-1974, but thanks to the intervention of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, he was pardoned. The surrender ceremony was attended by dignitaries from both countries, including then-President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos. Onoda solemnly returned to his homeland on March 12, 1974.
During his thirty years of sabotage activities, Onoda made about a hundred attacks on the American military and Filipino police officers. In the skirmishes with Onoda and his group, about 30 people were killed, more than 100 were injured.
Due to a campaign of harassment in the media and difficulties in adapting to the conditions of post-war Japan, Onoda decided to leave his homeland. In April 1975, he moved to Brazil, where a large Japanese diaspora has existed since the late 19th century. A year later, Onoda got married and began to engage in cattle breeding. For ten years, he managed to create a ranch with an area of 1200 hectares for 1800 head of cattle. Along with this, Onoda founded the Brazilian Japanese Society in 1978 and served as its chairman for eight years. In 1984, Onoda returned to Japan and founded a public organization to educate a healthy young generation. Under the leadership of Onoda, the school annually held summer camps for children and their parents throughout Japan, organized assistance to disabled children, and held scientific conferences on education.
On December 6, 2004, Onoda became the first Japanese to be awarded the Santos-Dumont Medal, the Brazilian Air Force's highest civilian award. He also received the title of Honorary Citizen of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso from the government of that state. On November 3, 2005, the Japanese government awarded Onoda the Medal of Honor with a blue ribbon "For Service to Society."
The veteran died on January 16, 2014, only 2 months before he was 92 years old.