8. A Japanese Lieutenant Cutoff in a Backwater Island
When Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda arrived at Lubang, he joined forces with Japanese forces already in the island. They included officers who outranked him, and who took exception to Onoda’s orders that allowed him to operate independently. So they meddled, interfered, and ended up preventing him out his reconnaissance mission. Within months, American forces invaded Lubang, and in short order and with rare exceptions, killed or captured all Japanese personnel in the island. The rare exceptions included Onoda and three other Japanese soldiers. He took charge of the survivors, and took to the hills.
Elsewhere in the Philippines, American forces overran the archipelago and crushed organized Japanese resistance. Onoda, scurrying about the rugged terrain of Lubang, was cut off from communications with his chain of command. Thus, he did not receive official word of Japan’s capitulation in 1945 and orders to surrender. Without new orders countermanding his last received instructions to fight to the death, Lieutenant Onoda abandoned common sense and, as seen below, went full jerk to fixate on an odd definition of duty.