In measured steps a column of five men enters the screened enclosure concealing the hangman's noose. The officer in command gives a terse order, and the somber group halts. More commands are given, and the execution detail moves toward the brightly lit gallows.
One man catches all eyes, the central figure whose hands are bound in front as he approaches the gallows steps. He is the first of three Japanese soldiers sentenced to die this morning. The condemned man is dressed in the plain garb of a private soldier, stripped of 'decorations and other appurtenances signifying membership in the military profession,' by personal order of General of the U.S. Army Douglas MacArthur. At his side is a Buddhist priest.
Waiting at the top of the gallows is Lieutenant Charles Raroad, a military police officer charged with executing the condemned. 'The stage was set under a tropical star-studded sky,' Raroad wrote just hours later. 'The stars, usually so warm and friendly, seem gradually to lose their warmth and assume the air of dignified judges turned stern witness.'