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This Happened

This Happened—January 24: Shoichi Yokoi, World War II's Final Holdout

After U.S. forces captured the island of Guam during World War II, Japanese Sergeant Shoic Yokoi went missing in the jungle. When he was found 28 years later he was welcomed back to Japan as a hero.

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Why did Shoic Yokoi go missing?

When American forces captured Guam in 1944, Yokoi went into hiding with nine other Japanese soldiers fighting there during World War II. Seven of them eventually moved away and only three stayed in the region.

How was Shoic Yokoi found?

On 24 January 1972, almost 30 years after disappearing, two locals discovered him near a river in Talofofo. Thinking his life was in danger, Yokoi attacked them, but the men managed to subdue him and carried him out of the jungle, bringing him to their home and feeding him before turning him over to the authorities.

What did Shoic Yokoi say after he was found?

He returned to Japan in March of 1972. "It is with much embarrassment that I return," he said, mentioning that he had known since 1952 that World War II had ended, but feared coming out of hiding. "We Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive.”

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