The following story has been purloined from Evening Colors, Page 13, April 2002

THE LAST HOLDOUT

By Lew Hayes

We return to Palau for another of the tales.

Dear Editor,

The following true account from the time of my command of CG LORST A Palau.

Among the last of the CO's of the old 83 foot boats, I turned over command in early 1955 of the Nantucket based CGC 83503. I

departed for Loran duty, eventually reporting to LORST A Palau on Angaur Island to take command. During my years tenure on the island my crew and I had experiences that would be hard to come by in the other branches of the Coast Guard, as with possibly other Loran Stations. Among them was the surrender to us of the last Japanese holdout on the neighboring island of Peleliu - the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the pacific in World War ll, during it's invasion in September of 1944. Angaur was invaded at the same time, but it was not so strongly defended.

The holdout turned out to be not Japanese, but Korean, but hid for eleven years on that coral island all alone -- not from devotion

to the Emperor, but out of pure fear! He had hidden in Peleliu's coral caves, eating the plentiful seafood from the reefs and swamps, as well as raiding the native's gardens to supplement his seafood diet. His story continues - let's call him "Kim."

Before the invasion, the Japanese officers had told their men that if they were captured by the Americans, they would their arms and legs to four wild horses and tear them apart. Many of the enlisted believed it - which may explain why so few prisoners were taken. Kim survived the invasion but the vision of those wild horses kept him from surrendering - for eleven years!!

Kim was pretty certain that the war was over for years, but he wasn't sure who had won. He figured that it was probably the Americans, since the Japanese never came back for him. Also he could see American ships and planes going to Angaur; Japanese ships visiting Angaur (to pick up phosphate); ships passing at night with their lights on - and no one shooting at each other. Still, there WERE those wild horses to consider.

The natives knew that he was there. They had caught glimpses of him as he dashed naked into the jungle after raiding their gardens for food and chickens. He ran naked for the very simple reason that his uniform had long since rotted away

Finally, after his eleven years of self imposed confinement in his coral prison, he thought (in effect), "To heck with their wild horses - let them tear me apart, enough is enough!" So he turned himself over to the natives. They put some old clothes on the thoroughly frightened man, and sent him over to me on a native boat.

Fortunately for Kim, we were fresh out of wild horses and we didn't have four jeeps to take their place, so we had to leave him in one piece - much to his undisguised pleasure. We assured him that naval vessels don't carry wild horses in peacetime, and can imagine his surprise when we informed him (through a native interpreter) that the war was not only over, but that now the U. S. was a great friend and ally of Japan, and that Russia was now the "Bad Guy." To make the confusion worse, he learned that his own homeland of Korea had been torn apart and partitioned in a bloody civil way in which the U. S. had played a major role. It was nearly too much for him, and I think the poor guy was beginning to regret having left his cave!

After a few days as our guest, he was picked up by a Coast Guard UF-1G (a Grumman amphibian that was the workhorse of the CG in those days) and flown to Guam. On to Honolulu, and eventually flown home to Korea. We don't know what kind of reception awaited him but I hope it was a good one. As far as I know, he was the last of the opposing force left on Palau -- at least he was the last one to surrender. Sure hope he collected all of his back pay!!

I would appreciate hearing from my former shipmates, as well as from other Loran veterans of their out of the ordinary and interesting happenings on their stations. There could very well be a book in these stories. Please write me at:

CDR Lew Hayes, USCGR-Ret Apartado 124 Puntarenas, Costa Rica

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