19th Hikō Sentai Special Attack Monument
Itoman City, Okinawa Prefecture
The Battle of Okinawa ended in one of the caves at Mabuni Hill with the
suicide of Lieutenant General Ushijima, commander of Japanese forces on
Okinawa. Since 1972, the area on and around Mabuni Hill has been the site of
Peace Memorial Park. The park includes the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial
Museum and the Cornerstone of Peace, which lists the names of all who lost their
lives in the Battle of Okinawa regardless of nationality or military or civilian
status. Mabuni Hill itself now has dozens of monuments dedicated to war dead
including many erected by individual Japanese prefectures.
The 19th Hikō Sentai Special Attack Monument stands at the edge of Mabuni
Hill overlooking the ocean. The monument, erected in August 1980, has the following inscription:
In 1945, men from the 19th Hikō Sentai (Flying Regiment), part of the 8th
Hikō Shidan (Air Division) in Taiwan, sacrificed themselves for their
homeland's peace and prosperity. These Tokkōtai (Special Attack Corps)
members took off from Karen (Hualien) Air Base and Giran Air Base and gave
their lives in taiatari (body-crashing) attacks against the American
task force around Okinawa. We erect this Special Attack Monument as we pray
for the repose of their souls.
During the Battle of Okinawa the 19th Hikō Sentai lost 16 Type 3 Hien
Fighter (Tony) pilots in suicide attacks on the following dates :
3 men - April 11, 1945
2 men - April 18, 1945
3 men - April 22, 1945
1 man - April 30, 1945
2 men - May 4, 1945
3 men - May 18, 1945
2 men - May 21, 1945
Second Lieutenant Hirotsugu Ōde (Special Flight Officer Cadet, 1st Class)
gave his life in a special attack on April 11, 1945. Second Lieutenant Kuniomi
Watanabe (Army Air Corps Academy, 57th Class), who flew in an escort fighter
with Ōde, gave the following account of his death in a letter sent to his
parents. On April 22, 1945, Watanabe also died in a special attack.
On April 11, we took off from Giran Base in high spirits as many people saw
us off, and we advanced straight toward Okinawa. During the attack, Ōde
reached my escort plane and calmly set off on a course of no return. As we
advanced, he stuck tightly to the escort plane positions and raised
his hand with a smile. When it turned to dusk, in a while we found the enemy
task force and could clearly see the white wake it left as it advanced
forward. Anti-aircraft fire in an instant enveloped two aircraft just
downward to the right. At this time when I signaled by waving my wings, Ōde
approached me and was waving with a smile. He turned around and dove
directly into the largest cruiser. In an instant black smoke rose up into
the air, and the ship was enveloped in pitch black smoke. During the attack
we fortunately did not encounter any enemy fighters, and this was the reason
his attack succeeded. I cannot put into words my feeling of loneliness. We
also will soon follow after him. Our mission draws near. Please excuse my
Second Lieutenant Kuniomi Watanabe 
1. Osuo 2005, 213; Tokkotai Senbotsusha 1990, 292.
Although the monument indicates that special attack missions were flown from
both Karen and Giran Air Bases, Osuo indicates that all of the pilots took off
from Giran Air Base.
2. The Japanese letter written by Kuniomi Watanabe
comes Tanaka's web page.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Tanaka, Kenichi. Okinawa junpai ki (Record of Okinawa pilgrimage
(September 15, 2017).
Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.
View from 19th Hikō Sentai Special Attack Monument on Mabuni Hill