Hiroo Onoda, was a Japanese soldier who refused to surrender and quit his World War II fight until the 1970s – decades after peace was declared.
At a certain point in his training, he was chosen to be trained at Nakano School as an Imperial Army Intelligence Officer. In this specialized military intelligence training, he was specifically taught methods of gathering intelligence and how to conduct guerrilla warfare. He was being groomed to go in behind enemy lines and be left with small pockets of soldiers to make life miserable for Japan’s enemies and gather intelligence in the process.
On December 26th, 1944, Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines. His orders from his commanding officers, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, were simple: 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.