The Badass of the Week.

Hiroo Onoda


You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand.  It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we'll come back for you.  Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him.  You may have to live on coconuts.  If that's the case, live on coconuts!  Under no circumstances are you to give up your life voluntarily.

Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda of the Japanese Imperial Army's Intelligence Division was sent to the Philippine Island of Lubang in 1944 with a top-secret mission - to stay out of sight, collect information on Allied troop movements on the island, launch guerilla attacks, disrupt the enemy and generally just be completely fucking nuts.  He took this mission so seriously that he ended up fighting for his life well after everyone else had called it a day and went home.  If the delicate line between insanity and badassitude is measured by determination, then Lt. Hiroo is probably high in the running for being one of the most badassed men of World War II.

Onoda and his small, elite four-man reconnaissance team were initially tasked with exploding the airfield and pier on the island, but not long after they deployed the entire Philippines was overrun by American forces.  Onoda's men managed to elude capture and retreat back into the dense jungles on the outskirts of the island, where they were forced to live off of the land to avoid detection by enemy scouts and patrols looking to shove their guns up some Japanese asses.  From this super-secret base of death, destruction and mayhem, Onodo and his men conducted lightning raids against the occupying armies, engaging in numerous gun battles with U.S. troops garrisoned on the island as well as the local Filipino police force.  They survived on rice, coconuts and bananas foraged from the underbrush, and occasionally made daring night raids into town to steal beer and other supplies from peoples' outdoor fridges.

For a year and a half Onoda and his team avoided detection and fought sporatic skirmishes with the local garrison, until one day, in August 1945, a plane flew over the jungle dropping hundreds of leaflets.  The leaflets basically said, "Hey jackasses, the war is over.  Come out and surrender already."  Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda immediately believed this to be a ploy by the Allies to trick him and his men into surrendering their positions.  The citizens of Japan were all being trained to fight to the death and to protect the homeland and the Emperor at all costs - how could the Imperial Army have possibly surrendered so quickly?!  It was inconcievable.  No, Lt. Hiroo had strict orders to stay put until he heard from a superior officer, and that's exactly what he was going to do.  Unfortunately for him (and the people living on the island of Lubang), it appears that the Japanese High Command forgot to copy Onoda on the memo that he needed to stop rigging transport ships with explosives and indiscriminately shooting anything that moved.

For years these brave, misguided souls hung out in the jungle, kicking peoples' asses and executing balls-out guerilla raids against the local police station.  The Japanese and Filipinos left numerous pamphlets, leaflets and newspaper clippings indicating the end of the War in the Pacific, but Hiroo wasn't in the mood to hear these stupid bullshit fucking lies.  He continued to stab faces and lead his men in their mission to the Empire.  In 1950, one of his men decided he was sick of sleeping in the jungle and eating fucking coconuts three times a day, and he surrendered to the Filipino authorities.  Four years after that, the second man in Hiroo's unit went down, killed in a particularly nasty gun battle with local police.  By 1959, Lieutenant Hiroo's military status in Japan was changed from "Missing in Action" to "Killed in Action", because to the Japanese military, it seemed perfectly reasonable to pronounce him dead - especially since they hadn't fucking heard from him in fifteen years.

Meanwhile, back on the island of Lubang, Onoda and his final surviving team member were still strategizing plans of attack, collecting critical reconnaissance data, eating more raw bananas than a soccer team comprised entirely of ravenous monkeys, robbing convenience stores for food, and firing their bolt-action rifles at pretty much anybody they deemed an "enemy combatant".  In 1972, the final member of Onoda's squad was killed by the cops.  Hiroo continued to evade "enemy patrols" sent to look for him (some of which were actually teams of Japanese diplomats sent to bring this fucking guy back to the mainland) and fight occasional gun battles with enemy scouts.  He was, quite literally, an "Army of One" - kind of like Rambo or John Matrix, only instead of killing terrorists or Commie pinko bastards he was shooting more cops than the Italian Mafia.

Finally, in 1974 a Japanese college student named Norio Suzuki came across Lieutenant Hiroo's hideout deep in the impenetrable Filipino jungle.  Norio told Hiroo that the war was over, but Hiroo refused to believe it.  He told this kid that he refused to surrender until he recieved orders from a superior officer.  Norio Suzuki promptly returned to Japan, found Hiroo's former commander (he was now an old man working in a bookstore), and the Japanese government flew this dude out to tell Onoda that World War II had been over for 29 years.

On 10 March 1975, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda came out of the jungle wearing his immaculately-kept full military dress uniform and surrendered his sword to Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos.  During his time on the island he and his men had killed over 30 Filipinos and Americans and wounded over 100 more people, but given the extenuating circumstances he was officially pardoned for his crimes.  Onoda returned to the island of Lubang in 1996 to donate $10,000 to local scholarship funds, but as you can probably imagine the people of the Philippines pretty much completely fucking hate this guy's guts.

Hiroo Onoda is awesome because he's also completely fucking insane.  This guy fought World War II for 30 fucking years, which is a claim that not even some of the most hardcore fucking WWII re-enactors can make.  He survived in the jungle for three decades with no supplies, no reinforcements, and no official orders, he refused to give up even when pretty much everybody from the Emperor to his own mother were telling him to come home, and he basically represents the physical embodiment of the mantra "refuse to lose".  As far as I'm concerned, that's pretty badass.


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