Warfare History Network
A remarkable Second World War story.
Remarkably, Onoda was not the last Japanese soldier to come in from World War II. In December 1974, a holdout named Nakamura Teruo was captured on the Indonesian island of Morotai. He was not Japanese, but a Taiwanese conscript more afraid of his Japanese masters than he was of the Indonesians. Consequently, he did not receive a hero’s welcome in Japan, but returned quietly to Taiwan where his arrival highlighted the wartime activities of the so-called Takasago Volunteers.
The Japanese empire was a fine place for young Hiro Onoda. In 1939, at age 17, he hired on with a lacquerware company that posted him to Hankow (Wuhan) in Japanese-occupied China. There, he visited suppliers by day and danced the night away with obliging Chinese women.
His idyllic world, along with that of countless others, came to an abrupt end in December 1941.
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Japan opened up a new front in her war against the rest of the world. The Army desperately needed manpower. Onoda was called up in May 1942, and after basic training he was accepted into officer’s candidate school. Upon graduation, he was promoted to 2nd lieutenant and selected for special training in a pacification squad, a type of commando unit.