History of Survivor Hiroo Onoda The Last Samurai Part 2

About the last of the Japanese samurai Hiroo Onoda, biography and history of his survival.



In June, 1953, Shimada was shot in the leg by an islander. Every day for four months Onoda bathed the wound and wrapped it in a loincloth dipped in cow fat. The wound healed, but Shimada grew steadily more despondent, frequently looking at the photograph of his wife and children. Once Onoda heard him saying softly to himself, "Ten years. Ten whole years."

On May 7, 1954, the three men were spotted by an island search party. Shooting began, and while Onoda and Kozuka dived for cover, Shimada stood upright and aimed his gun, but without any attempt to fire it. Suddenly he fell headfirst with a bullet between his eyebrows. Onoda could not understand why Shimada had not dived for cover.

By now the two remaining men had learned the laws of survival. For mending their clothes, they fashioned needles from wire netting and made cotton from a jungle hemplike plant. They brushed their teeth with the fiber from palm trees. They oiled their guns with palm oil. The palm leaves were their toilet paper. They always dug holes for their waste and examined their urine and feces to verify that their diet was correct. Their main food was bananas, coconut milk, and meat, when they could kill a local cow. After eating fresh cow's meat, Onoda's temperature rose so dramatically that the soles of his feet burned. He learned to counter this fever by drinking green coconut milk. By stringently observing these rules, Onoda remained remarkably free from disease and only had two fevers during his entire ordeal. Kozuka also remained healthy; his only ailments were cuts on his feet caused by sharp thorns.

Sleep was always a threat to their safety. They never once slept without their trousers on, and in the dry season they slept on sloping ground so that, in the event of a surprise attack, they could instantly see all round without getting up. During the rainy season they lived in makeshift huts.

All their other needs they would "requisition" from the local natives on daring night raids, which they called "stepping out for the evening." The villagers called the two soldiers "the mountain devils."

There were many search parties over the years. One expedition cost $375,000 and used 13,000 men, but didn't find the slightest trace of Onoda.

In May, 1959, a search party arrived, led by Onoda's brother and Kozuka's brother. They stayed for six months, and as a final effort to convince Onoda, Toshio Onoda, using a microphone, began to sing in the hope his brother would recognize his voice. But he was so emotionally overcome, his voice broke, and Onoda became convinced it was an impersonator. In 1972, another search party arrived, with his sister, Chie, and another brother, Tadao. This time Onoda decided that the voices were indeed those of his sister and brother, but this suggested to him only that Japan was about to recapture the island. In the meantime, he would continue his vigil.

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