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THE WRONG KIND OF LOYALTY

There is a story of a Japanese soldier, Lt. Hiroo Onada, left on the island Lubang in the Philippines on December 25, 1944, with the command to "carry on the mission, even if Japan surrenders." Onada continued his war alone. All efforts to convince him to surrender or to capture him failed. He ignored messages from loudspeakers announcing Japan’s surrender and that Japan was now an ally of the United States. Leaflets were dropped over the jungle begging him to surrender so he could return to Japan. He refused to believe or surrender.

Over the years, he lived off the land and raided the fields and gardens of local citizens. He was responsible for killing at least 30 Filipinos during his 29-year personal war. Almost a half-million dollars was spent trying to locate and convince him to surrender. Thirteen thousand men were used to try to locate him.

Finally, on March 10, 1974, almost 30 years after World War II ended, Onada surrendered his rusty sword after receiving a personal command from his former superior officer, who read the terms of the cease-fire order. Onada handed his sword to President Marcos, who pardoned him. The war was over. Onada was 22 years old when left on the island. He returned a prematurely aged man of 52. Onada stated, "Nothing pleasant happened in the 29 years in the jungle."

(From a sermon by Paul Clemente, "From Being A Bad Witness To Good" 2/23/2009)

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