Vice Admiral Shoji Nishimura was what might be called a “hard luck” officer. A war torn veteran of the Pacific war, he was the commander of the escorts of the Japanese naval force that had decisively beaten the Dutch and Americans in the 1942 battles around the Netherlands East Indies. Before assuming the command of Force “C” at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, he carried out a unremarkable series of assignments.
While not being the most creative or highly distinguished of the Japanese admirals, he did share one characteristic present in his fellow officers. No matter what orders he had, he would carry them out even though they could result in the annihilation of himself and his command.
That is what exactly happened in the Surigao Strait when his vastly outnumbered and outgunned band of two pre-World War II battleships, one heavy cruiser, and four destroyers went to their doom against the power of the American Seventh Fleet. As shells came down like rain all around him as his command proceeded up Surigao Strait, he relentlessly kept his force on its course toward oblivion. He lost his life along with hundreds of other Japanese sailors. Although he knew his command was doomed, he did his duty and sacrificed himself and his command in true Samurai tradition, thus keeping his honor.