Carried on a one man war for 28 years on Guam after World War Two
© Christopher Eger
Jul 9, 2006
The resourceful Sergeant remained hidden on an island just three times the size of Washigton DC for three decades after world war two, remaining faithful to his oath
When war broke out 26 year old bachelor Shoichi Yokoi was plucked from his life as a tailor in Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Japan and drafted into the army to serve his Emperor He served with the 29th Infantry Division in Manchuria from 1941 until he was transferred in 1943 to the 38th Regiment in Guam. He was an Army Sergeant, attached to the Supply corps when the Americans came to retake Guam in 1944.
According to the records about Guam (called Omiya-jima island by Japan), Sergeant Yokoi's unit was located in the Fena Mountain region when the Americans landed on the night of July 21 in Showa (now Nimitz) bay . The Japanese troops made banzai charges and the battle lasted through the early morning inflicting terrible carnage all along the front line. The Japanese attackers were annihilated by US tanks that had been brought ashore. Cut off from his unit, he took to the jungles. He spent nearly 28 years there, surviving by any means possible.
He was listed by the Japanese government as having been killed by Sept. 30 1944. A number of Japanese soldiers remained at large with Yokoi on the island. Two soldiers, privates Minagawa and Ito, were repatriated to Japan in 1960 after surrendering to Americans. Finally in 1964 when two compatriots, Shichi Mikio, a soldier, and Nakabata Satow, a civilian worker for a labor battalion, died Yokoi found himself entirely alone.
Yokoi lived in a tunnel-like, underground cave in a bamboo grove until Jan 24, 1972, when he was discovered near the Talofofo River by hunters and brought into a local police station with his hands bound with rope.
Two Japanese grenades, his non-functional Ariska rifle, and an American 155mm artillery shell were found in the caves alongside the buried remains of his two companions. He was remarkably healthy when he was found. Yokoi was able to keep from getting ringworm, lice infestations and other infectious diseases by bathing frequently and thoroughly. . He lived by trapping shrimp, fish, and rats and eating jungle vegetation. He had correctly calculated the time that had passed while in the jungle and knew that the year was 1972 when he was captured and was wearing a handmade uniform of his own design.