From  the  book  UNBROKEN  by  Laura  Hillenbrand

The Boiling City

The unbelievable  strength  of  Louie…… but  the   "bird"  madman  had  to  be  killed  -  he  was  a  maniac  monster  -  Keith Hunt

NO ONE IN NAOETSU WAS SLEEPING. B-29s CROSSED OVER every night, and the air-raid sirens wailed for hours on end, competing with the roar of the planes. The sound of them, and the sight of endless flocks of planes soaring unopposed over Japan, sent the Bird ever deeper into madness.

During the raids, the POWs were ordered to stay in the barracks with the lights out. Once the planes had passed, the Bird would bound in, ordering the Americans outside. He and his henchman, Kono, would pace back and forth, shouting and swinging clubs, kendo sticks, or rifles. On some nights, the Bird would shove the men into two lines, facing one another, and order them to slap each other's faces. Sometimes he and Kono would make them stand with their arms over their heads for two to three hours at a time, or force them into the Ofuna crouch, pounding them when they faltered. During one beating, Louie was clubbed on his previously injured ankle, leaving it so painful that he could barely walk. And on at least one of these nights, the Bird beat Louie to unconsciousness.

Louie's job as pig custodian was over. Barge loading had also been canceled; Allied planes had sunk so many Japanese ships that none came or went from Naoetsu anymore. Louie was back on half rations. Limping, sick, and hungry, he begged the Bird for work so he could get full rations again. The Bird brought him a paper-thin gray goat that appeared to be on the brink of death.

"Goat die, you die," the Bird said.

Louie had nothing to secure the goat with, and no pen to put him in. His friend Ken Marvin stole a rope from his work site and brought it to him. Louie tied the goat to a pole and began nursing him, giving him water and grain. At night he tied him inside a grain shack. The goat only got sicker. One morning, the Bird ordered Louie to come before him. He said that the goat had gotten loose, broken into a grain bin, and gorged himself. The animal was deathly ill, and it was Louie's fault. Louie knew that his knot had been secure. If the goat had gotten loose, someone had untied him. The goat died.

Terrified of retribution, Louie tried to hide from the Bird, but his dysentery was becoming very serious. Risking being seen by the Bird, he went to the camp doctor to plead for medication. The Bird ran him down, demanding to know if he had received permission to approach the doctor. Louie said no.

The Bird marched Louie away from the doctor's shack, passing Tinker and Wade, who'd been ordered to work outside. Out in the compound, the Bird halted. Lying on the ground before them was a thick, heavy wooden beam, some six feet long. Pick it up, the Bird said. With some effort, Louie hoisted it up, and the Bird ordered him to lift it high and hold it directly over his head: Louie heaved the beam up. The Bird called a guard over. If the prisoner lowers his arms, the Bird told him, hit him with your gun. The Bird walked to a nearby shack, climbed on the roof, and settled in to watch.

Louie stood in the sun, holding up the beam. The Bird stretched over the roof like a contented cat, calling to the Japanese who walked by, pointing to Louie and laughing. Louie locked his eyes on the Bird's face, radiating hatred.

Several minutes passed. Louie stood, eyes on the Bird. The beam felt heavier and heavier, the pain more intense. The Bird watched Louie, amused by his suffering, mocking him. Wade and Tinker went on with their work, stealing anxious glances at the scene across the compound. Wade had looked at the camp clock when Louie had first lifted the beam. He became more and more conscious of how much time was passing.

Five more minutes, passed, then ten. Louie's arms began to waver and go numb. His body shook. The beam tipped. The guard jabbed Louie with his gun, and Louie straightened up. Less and less blood was reaching his head, and he began to feel confused, his thoughts gauzy, the camp swimming around him. He felt his consciousness slipping, his mind losing adhesion, until all he knew was a single thought: He cannot break me. Across the compound, the Bird had stopped laughing.

Time ticked on, and still Louie remained in the same position, conscious and yet not, the beam over his head, his eyes on the Bird's face, enduring long past when his strength should have given out. "Something went on inside of me," he said later. "I don't know what it was."

There was a flurry of motion ahead of him, the Bird leaping down from the roof and charging toward him, enraged. Watanabe's fist rammed into Louie's stomach, and Louie folded over in agony. The beam dropped, striking Louie's head. He flopped to the ground.

When he woke, he didn't know where he was or what had happened. He saw Wade and some other POWs, along with a few guards, crouched around him. The Bird was gone. Louie had no memory of the last several minutes, and had no idea how long he'd stood there. But Wade had looked at the clock when Louie had fallen.

Louie had held the beam aloft for thirty-seven minutes……


That night was a turning point for Louie. The next morning, his dysentery was suddenly extremely severe. He was dangerously dehydrated and beginning to have trouble eating. Each day he was thinner, weaker.

Every day and night, the B-29s raked over the sky and the Bird rampaged through camp. He attacked Ken Marvin, knocked him unconscious, roused him with a bucket of water to his face, told him to take care of his health, then knocked him out again. While Louie hid upstairs on his bunk, sick with fever, he saw the Bird and Kono beat two sick POWs until they acquiesced to the Bird's order to lick excrement from their boots. On another day, Louie looked across the compound to see the Bird and Kono standing before a line of POWs, holding a confiscated book on boxing and taking turns punching the prisoners.

Louie was Walking in the compound when the Bird collared him and dragged him to the overflowing benjo pit. After pulling over several men, the Bird forced Louie and the others down on their stomachs, on-top of the waste pits, and ordered them to do push-ups. Louie was just barely able to hold his body clear of the pit. Others were not so fortunate. When the exhausted men failed to push themselves all the way up, the Bird pressed the butt of his rifle to their heads and ground their faces into the waste.

Then came the day that Louie had been dreading. He was standing outside, filling a tub of water, when the Bird barked at him to come over. When Louie arrived, the Bird looked wrathfully at him and gestured toward the water.

"Tomorrow I'm going to drown you."

Louie spent a day gripped with fear, looking for the Bird, thinking about the tub of water. When the Bird found him, he was terrified.

"I have changed my mind," the Bird said. Then he lunged at Louie and began punching him in the face, alternating right and left fists in a violent ecstasy. As abruptly as he had started, he stopped. Suddenly serene, he let go of Louie.

"I will drown you tomorrow," he said.

The Bird strolled away. His face wore the same soft languor that Louie had seen on the face of the Quack after he beat Harris at Ofuna. It was an expression of sexual rapture.

Louie could take no more. He joined about a dozen officers in a secret meeting. By the time they parted, they had a plan to kill the Bird.


The plan was simple. The men would leap onto the Bird and pull him to the top floor of the barracks, overlooking the drop to the Hokura River. There, they would lash him to a large rock and shove him out the window. When he struck the water below, the rock would carry him under. He would never draw another breath.

The officers divvied up the tasks involved in the killing. A group of men would figure out how to overpower the Bird, who was quite fit and would be difficult to subdue. Several of the biggest POWs would find a heavy but portable rock and, out of view of the guards, hoist it up the ladders and roll it to the window. Louie was tasked with stealing enough strong rope to lash the rock to the Bird.

Louie couldn't find a rope long enough to tie a man to a boulder. He began stealing shorter lengths of rope, secreting them away, then tying them together with his strongest Boy Scout knots. Meanwhile, the rock crew found a large boulder, big enough to drown the Bird and several other men. Somehow, they got it into the compound, into the barracks, and up the ladder without discovery. They positioned it by the window. When Louie had finally stolen enough rope, he tied it into one long line. It was looped around the rock, a dangling end lying ready to be wound around the Bird's body. Louie then prepared for the second phase of the plan. He had volunteered to be one of the men to capture the Bird, drag him up, and throw him to his death.

As the conspirators planned, the Bird entered the barracks. If the rock was then in place, he either didn't see it or didn't recognize what it was there for. He dug through the men's possessions. Under the tatami mat of an English officer, he found a piece of paper on which were listed the crimes of each of the Japanese officials. When the Bird looked up, he saw the man sneering at him.

The Bird was spooked. He believed that he saw the POWs glaring murderously at him. They had never looked at him in this way before. He knew that Japan was losing the war, and that when the end came, the Americans would try him. These POWs would accuse him of crimes, and the Americans would surely sentence him to death. No one, he knew, would defend him, and that fact left him angry and panicked. He was going to have to go to extreme measures to save himself.

Next to a window near which the Bird passed each day, the rock and rope sat ready. From the barracks window, it was a long plunge to the water……..