Nobuo Ishibashi, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps 1st Tsukuba Squadron
(April 6, 1945, Kanoya Air Base)
Remembering Times Past from 34 Years Ago
by Miyoji Kobayashi
Miyoji Kobayashi is a former Navy Lieutenant who was a buntaichō (Division
Officer) at Kasumigaura Air Group. After Tsukuba Air Group formed kamikaze
squadrons, then he had responsibilities for directing these squadrons at Tsukuba
and Kanoya Air Bases.
The situation was such that kamikaze special attack squadrons were formed at
Tsukuba Air Group. I do not know what type of talk they heard from the
Commander. However, I can roughly imagine what happened. I heard that they
volunteered, but in those days the conditions were such that no one could trail
The Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Tsukuba Squadrons that were first formed
included a total of 20 fighter aircraft crewmen. There were 6 from the Yobi Gakusei
(Reserve Students) 13th Class, 9 from the Yobi Gakusei 14th Class, and 5
noncommissioned officers. Among these men was Lieutenant Junior Grade Nobuo
Soon after special attack squadrons had been formed, I made an appearance at
the reserve officer quarters. Before hanging their hammocks and sleeping, in
various ways they were very lively and cheerful. Lieutenant Junior Grade
Ishibashi told me, "Lieutenant A is good at his imitation of Popeye." As
Lieutenant A was encouraged with cries of "ah! oh!" by his comrades surrounding
him, he cheerfully did for them his impersonation with sounds of "puff, puff."
Forgetting any complaints, they all together erupted in excitement upon hearing
the sounds of "puff, puff" that time. I was left with the impression that it was
a boisterous atmosphere. Ishibashi said to me, "Buntaichō (Division Officer),
it's because he is the Okubo Hikoza  of fighter
planes." Not knowing where such talk came from and hearing them talk about him
in different ways, I felt somewhat awkward and left. Such liveliness? Such
happiness? I wondered whether it was like that every day. Getting a chance to
look in at a side of their lives that could not be seen at the airfield, I
somehow had a feeling of relief.
We took off from Tsukuba while I accompanied the 20 young men as we advanced
to Kanoya Base. The 721st Air Group (Jinrai Butai or Thunder Gods Corps) fighter
squadrons were at Kanoya Base, and their commander was Captain Motoharu Okamura.
Commander Tadashi Nakajima was giving various directions to the kamikaze pilots.
There were also persons who made sorties on the day following their arrival
at Kanoya. I think that Lieutenant Junior Grade Ishibashi was one of these men.
The barrack was an elementary school very near the airfield. Even though the
time for dinner had long passed, Ensign Shinichi Ishimaru and Ensign
Kōichi Honda had not appeared. When I went out to the schoolyard to look, the
two of them were enthusiastically playing catch in the dim twilight.
While I watched the ball, it seemed like Ensign Ishimaru, former
Nagoya-gun  professional pitcher, and Ensign Honda, noted first baseman at
Hōsei University who participated in Tokyo Six Universities baseball
competition, were following their lifetime dreams as they held the ball. Several
days later someone asked Ensign Ishimaru, "What was the happiest moment for
you during your baseball career?" He responded with sparkling eyes, "I pitched
against Starffin  and won."
In a dark room without electric light and with one candle, Lieutenant K gazed
and gazed at the candlelight. Forever, forever.
I did not see anyone who sortied and returned. We saw them off with our hands
waving, and they were taking off from the airfield as we waved our hands.
I, who had guided many Tsukuba Squadrons, had to return to Tsukuba. I left in
Kanoya several young men who with short-lived fortune had survived without yet
having the opportunity to sortie and without knowing when the order would be
given. I flew low over their quarters and bid them farewell. The young men from
Tsukuba Air Group looked up into the sky, waved their hands, and bid goodbye to
this old man.
Tsukuba Air Group airmen during training
with pitching ace Shinichi Ishimaru in middle
Translated by Bill Gordon
The source of the story on this web page is page 187 of the following book:
Makino, Kikuo, ed. 1979. Ichioku nin no shōwa shi (Nihon no senshi 4):
Tokubetsu kōgekitai (Shōwa history of 100 million people (Japan's war
history, Volume 4): Special Attack Corps). Tokyo: Mainichi Shinbunsha.
Related web pages:
1. Okubo Hikoza is a shortened name for Okubo
Hikozaemon, a warrior who lived between 1560 and 1639. He rendered
distinguished war service to the Shogun, but he was also known for his rebellious
spirit and eccentricity.
2. The Nagoya-gun baseball team is now known as
the Chunichi Dragons.
3. Victor Starffin, who as a child immigrated with
his family from Russia, was the first professional pitcher in Japan to win 300
games. Starffin played for the Tokyo Kyojin-gun (now the Yomiuri Giants) when he
pitched against Shinichi Ishimaru.
Inoguchi (1958, 202-3) has the following letter:
Lieutenant Junior Grade Nobuo Ishibashi, a native of Saga City in
northern Kyūshū, was born in 1920. He was a member of the Tsukuba Air Group
before his assignment to the Special Attack Corps. This is his last letter
Spring seems to come early to southern Kyushu. Here the
blossoms and flowers are all beautiful. There is a peace and
tranquility, and yet this place is really a battleground.
I slept well last night; didn't even dream. Today my head is clear
and I am in excellent health.
It makes me feel good to know that we are on the same island at this
Please remember me when you go to the temple, and give my regards to
all of our friends.
I think of springtime in Japan while soaring to dash against the
Inoguchi, Rikihei, and Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau.
1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Remembering Times Past from 34 Years Ago