Soldiers have always been used to fight in wars. From the second World War to the 2001 ‘Iraq invasion,’ those in power have always used their troops to show their authority and might. However, some soldiers get lost on the battlefield and never return home. War is always a confusing mess where soldiers are taken as prisoners of war or killed. In almost all instances, such soldiers are never accounted for, and they disappear from history. Most of the lost soldiers are declared dead, never to be seen again. However, some have turned up alive many years since their ‘deaths.’ Here are ten soldiers who came back alive after being pronounced dead.
10. ‘Mateo Sabog.’
Sergeant Mateo Sabog fought in the Vietnam War until 1970, when he was supposed to return to the USA. He was to travel from Saigon to the North California’s Fort Bragg, but the soldier never showed up. In 1973, his brother wrote to the army and asking of his whereabouts, and it is at that time when the Army learned he had disappeared. Seven years later, the Army declared him dead after his brother Kenneth wrote a second letter. In 1996, Mateo Sabog appeared from nowhere. It was then learnt that he left the military and began living with a lady in California. After the woman had died, Mateo applied for social security and revealed his identity. He apologized for the mistake and later died in 2007.
9. ‘Bakhretdin Khakimov.’
The deadly conflict between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union in the 1980s led to confusion and bloodshed. Bakhretdin Khakimov is a native of Uzbek who was severely wounded in the war and believed to have died in 1981. After being declared ‘dead,’ the soldier was treated by a medicine man using herbs, after which Khakinov became a medicine healer known as ‘Sheikh Abdullah.’ He married a woman from Afghanistan and survived the ‘2001 US invasion.’ 33 years after his ‘death,’ the ‘Committee for International Soldiers’ traced Bakhretdin. He remembered his family but could not speak Russian and was nervous about the ‘Red Army.’
8. ‘John T Downey’
John T. Downey worked with the CIA in 1952, his role being to gather information at the height of the Korean war. In the company of another agent, Downey flew to rescue a captured intelligence contact in Manchuria but was shot down after being double-crossed by the contact. Downey then became the ‘longest held POW’ in the USA. He was presumed dead, but the fact is that the Chinese held him prisoner for 20 years. After doubts about his death had come up, Richard Nixon’s intervention brought Downey back to the US where he served the government until his demise in 2014.
7. ‘Teruo Nakamura’
Teruo Nakamura was a Taiwan conscript stationed on Morotai island during the 1945 attack by the allied forces. Together with other Japanese soldiers, Nakamura hid in the jungles of Morotai and never knew that Japan had surrendered. After a long argument, Teruo decided to leave his group and live alone. He built a hut, grew crops and survived on his own. Residents attempted to tell him that Japan had surrendered, but he would hear none of that. In 1974, Indonesian soldiers wore Japanese uniforms and pretended to be rescuing Teruo. He was the last ‘Japanese holdout’ to return to Taiwan.
6. ‘Surjeet Singh’
An Indian named Surjeet Singh left his country and never returned for over 30 years. His family presumed him dead and tried to forget about him. Despite being alive, Surjeet was held as a prisoner in Pakistan. He had gone on a spying mission in Pakistan, but India ‘denied’ it had such a mission. He was later sentenced to death but pleaded for mercy, which made him imprisoned for life in high isolation. In 2012, he was freed and went back to India. Today, Singh works as an advocate for Indian prisoners in Afghanistan.
5. ‘Lee Soon Sang.’
Lee Soon Sang was a soldier in the Korean War who unfortunately got captured in 1953, a few days before the ‘armistice’ got signed. He was held for three years as a POW before he was forced to work in the Aoji coal mines in North Korea. He was made to believe that his wife was dead and remarried. In 2004, a human trafficker told Soon that his wife lived in China. He gave $ 150 to his family in North Korea and went back to the first wife. The Chinese woman was shocked to see Lee Soon Sang alive.
4. ‘Ishinosuke Uwano.’
Ishinosuke Uwano was an officer stationed in Russia’s Sakhalin Island in 1958 who went missing for many decades. He was declared dead in 2000. However, the soldier was alive in a far and unlikely part of the world. He was found alive in Ukraine in 2006. He went to Kiev in 1965, but the Soviet Union denied him the opportunity to contact his Japanese family. He, therefore, sought Ukrainian citizenship and married. Officials who searched for missing soldiers in the former Soviet Union were terrified to find Uwano alive. He returned alive to his family after decades of separation.
3. ‘The Soldiers in the Forest.’
In 2015 a Russian soldier who had been presumed dead a long time ago was found alive over ten years since his ‘death.’ He was discovered in an unusual place: the remote ‘Kamchatka Peninsula. The soldier’s family identified the body of another person by mistake and buried it. For all the time, the Russian soldier had built a shelter in the thick Kamchatka forest. Locals reported a ‘suspicious inhabitant’ to the authorities, and he was rescued from the woods.
2. ‘Andras Toma.’
Andras Toma went back to his home in Hungary in 2001 after missing for 55 years. The soldier’s ordeal started during the First World War when the notorious Soviet Army captured him in 1944. A year later, he was taken to Leningrad where he was placed in a prison camp. He was taken to a mental hospital in 1947 after the camp’s closure. Andras was left neglected in the hospital for more than half a century, after which he was discovered as a toothless and elderly man. More than 80 families with missing relatives claimed Toma, but he was taken back to his real family in Hungary.
1. ‘Ho Van Thanh.’
At the time when ‘Ho Van Thanh’ was thought to be long dead, he was still in the company of his son called Lang. Van was an officer in the Vietnam army who took his son and fled to the jungle in 1972 when his village was bombed. The soldier thought the other family members were killed and remained vigilant, thinking the war was still going on. He raised the kid in isolation while the other son called Tri survived the bombing. Tri heard about two men in the jungle and went to rescue them. In 2013, the family reunited after decades of uncertainty about their father and son.
The disappearance of a family member or a friend is one of the most painful things. When a soldier can no longer be traced, everyone presumes that he has been killed in a war. However, some people are lucky enough to find their relatives alive. The above ten cases are evidence enough that we should always hope for the best.