Shoichi Yokoi, 82, a former Japanese soldier who hid in the jungles of Guam for 27 years without knowing World War II had ended, died Sept. 22 at a hospital in the central Japanese city of Nagoya after a heart attack.

The former Imperial Army sergeant, honoring a pledge never to surrender, fled into the jungle when U.S. troops recaptured the Pacific island of Guam in July 1944.

He lived in a tunnel-like cave that he dug in the undergrowth and survived on a diet of coconuts, papaya, shrimp, frogs and rats. He made his own clothes from strips of tree bark and kept track of time by marking the cycles of the moon. He was found in January 1972 by two hunters while he was fishing along the Talofofo River.

"I've come back to report to the Japanese people about the fighting and my experiences in Guam because I don't know what wars we may encounter again," he said after landing in Japan.

He brought back his army-issue rifle, which he said he wanted to return to "the Honorable Emperor," adding, "I am sorry I did not serve his majesty to my satisfaction."

Yokoi later said he had seen reports of Japan's surrender in leaflets and newspapers scattered about the island but refused to surrender because he thought they were U.S. propaganda.

"We Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive," Yokoi said.

Yokoi, who had been a tailor's apprentice before being drafted in 1941, became a folk hero in Japan and seemed to adjust to modern life.

He married months after returning and traveled throughout Japan giving lectures on survival tactics. He ran unsuccessfully for the House of Councillors -- parliament's upper house -- in 1974.

Two years after Yokoi was discovered, another World War II straggler, Lt. Hiroo Onoda, was found in the jungles of the Philippines. Onoda refused to give up until March 1974, when the Japanese government flew in his former commander to inform him officially that the war was over.