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Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Ryūko Squadron Monument
Miyakojima City [1], Okinawa Prefecture

Miyakojima, a Japanese island about halfway between Taiwan and Okinawa, had a Navy airfield from which a squadron of kamikaze pilots flying Type 93 Intermediate Trainers (nicknamed Akatonbo or Red Dragonfly) took off toward Okinawa. Slightly after 12:30 a.m. on July 29, 1945, one of these bomb-carrying training planes from the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Ryūko Squadron hit and sank the destroyer Callaghan (DD-792) with 47 crewmen and one officer losing their lives and 73 other men wounded in the attack.

Fifty years after seven Japanese airmen lost their lives in the nighttime suicide attacks, one of the surviving members of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Ryūko (meaning "dragon and tiger") Squadrons erected a monument at the site of the former Navy airfield on Miyakojima. No traces of the airfield remain today. The monument stands with several other war monuments on a ridge overlooking Miyakojima City Athletic Field.

The plaque at the top part of the monument has the following description of the kamikaze pilots who died:

With back hunched, pushing forward the control stick
Now comes an end to many countless hopes
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Ryūko Squadron

The monument base has a plaque with the following history:

History of Monument Erection

The more I think of no longer recalling anything, the more thoughts of yearning for my father and mother and of the mountains and streams of my hometown well up inside me. Feeling many things in the light moonlight as my final farewell looms, inside me I wonder what I will do as I intently advance toward Okinawa. Ah, the end with death to my extreme regret.

Middle of night on July 29, 1945
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Ryūko Squadron

Chief Flight Petty Officer Hiroshi Mimura
Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Tamio Iori
Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Kiyotada Kondō
Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Yū Hara
Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Shōjirō Sahara
Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Shōzō Matsuda
Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Makoto Kawahira

Seven brave heroes, hoping for eternal world peace, took off here from Miyakojima Special Attack Advance Base as Japan's last special attack squadron [2]. They died heroically in battle off the coast of Kadena, Okinawa. Their valor will shine brilliantly for all ages. We pray that their spirits may rest in peace as what their fathers and mothers would have desired.

All Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Ryūko Squadrons
July 29, 1995
Erected by Keizō Sasai
Member of Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 4th Ryūko Squadron
Minakuchi Town, Shiga Prefecture

The monument suggests that all seven airmen of the 3rd Ryūko Squadron left from Miyakojima in the middle of the night on July 29, 1945. However, Hara (2004, 240) and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 216) indicate that five squadron members died on July 29 and three squadron members died on July 30. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha also states that seven planes were flown by the eight squadron members, and both sources indicate that one of men who sortied on July 30, Shōichi Yagi, died off the coast of Taiwan rather than Okinawa. It is not known why Yagi's name is omitted from the monument.

On July 29, 1945, one 3rd Ryūko Squadron trainer hit and sank the destroyer Callaghan, and another trainer flown by a 3rd Ryūko Squadron pilot hit the destroyer Pritchett (DD-561) causing minor damage. Pritchett was on duty at the same radar picket station (No. 9A) as Callaghan [3]. On July 30, 1945, one of the two 3rd Ryūko Squadron trainers flown toward Okinawa most likely crashed at 0326 into the destroyer Cassin Young (DD-793), which resulted in 22 crewmen dead and 45 wounded [4].

On August 7, 1945, the destroyer Callaghan Captain, Charles M. Bertholf, submitted a "Revised Form for Reporting A.A. [Anti-aircraft] Action by Surface Ships." He indicated that Callaghan was hit by one "bi-plane, single engine, fixed landing gear," which is consistent with the Type 93 Intermediate Trainers flown by the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Ryūko Squadron.

Notes

1. When the monument was erected, it was located in Hirara City, which merged with three towns and one village to form Miyakojima City in October 2005.

2. Other kamikaze attack special attack squadrons sortied from the main Japanese island of Honshu after July 29, 1945, but the 3rd Ryūko Squadron was the last official kamikaze squadron to attack ships around Okinawa. On August 15, 1945, Vice Admiral Ugaki also led a suicide attack squadron toward Okinawa after he heard the Emperor's announcement of surrender, but this attack is generally not officially recognized in Japan as a special attack since it took place after the message to surrender.

3. Rielly 2010, 296.

4. Harmon 1985, 30-2; Stern 2010, 314-6.

Sources Cited

Hara, Katsuhiro. 2004. Shinsō kamikaze tokkō: Hisshi hitchū no 300 nichi (Kamikaze special attack facts: 300 days of certain-death, sure-hit attacks). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

Harmon, J. Scott. 1985. U.S.S. Cassin Young (DD-793). Missoula, MT: Pictorial Histories Publishing.

Rielly, Robin L. 2010. Kamikaze Attacks of World War II: A Complete History of Japanese Suicide Strikes on American Ships, by Aircraft and Other Means. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.

Stern, Robert C. 2010. Fire From the Sky: Surviving the Kamikaze Threat. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.