Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THE FORGOTTEN STRAGGLERS


Masashi Ito (left) and Bunzo Minagawa (right) after their capture in 1960


Mention Yokoi on Guam and practically everyone knows who we're talking about.

But Ito and Minagawa?

Yet, almost 12 years prior to the capture of Yokoi in early 1972, two Japanese stragglers were found on Guam in 1960.

Manibusan and Santos

Like Yokoi, the first of the two to be found in 1960, Minagawa, was found by Chamorro men from Talofofo who were hunting. Vicente Manibusan and Clemente Santos were hunting coconut crab by Togcha when they saw a man in the distance. Just from the look of the man, they suspected he was a Japanese straggler.

They circled the area and found Minagawa up inside a breadfruit tree. When they called out to him, he jumped down and tried to run away. After about a quarter of a mile in pursuit, Manibusan and Santos caught up with Minagawa and struggled with him till he finally gave in. Passing cars were hailed, but it was only the third car which cooperated and promised to call the police to send a patrol car to that area.

A fourth car agreed to take the trio to the Yoña police precinct. There they waited for a police car to fetch them and take them to the main Agaña police headquarters. Then the Navy stepped in and took over.


Ito

During his questioning by authorities, Minagawa informed his captors that there was another Japanese soldier still hiding in the jungle by the name of Masashi Ito. Minagawa was willing to accompany the military police to Ito's hidden camp site and encourage him to surrender.

When the time arrived, the search party went by helicopter to the site and Minagawa called out to his compatriot. Ito emerged from hiding and turned himself in. The two were eventually repatriated to Japan, in good condition.

Asked if they thought there were more Japanese holdouts hiding in Guam's jungles, they replied no. Boy were they wrong!





The discovery of the stragglers naturally made news all over the world

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating story! Thanks for sharing! You are right, most of us are only familiar with the story of Yokoi.

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