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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Corporal Kōji Andō

On May 11, 1945, Corporal Kōji [1] Andō took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the 51st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and piloted an Army Hayabusa Type 1 Fighter (Allied code name of Oscar). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Ōita Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Class of the Army's Youth Pilot (Shōhi) Program.

He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:

Having been born as a Japanese man, at the time of an unprecedented national crisis for the Empire, I will carry out an important responsibility to protect Shinshū [2] with this five-foot body [3]. Nothing surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of a young man.

I am determined only to fall as a shield of the skies by means of a hitchū hissatsu (sure-hit, certain-death) attack with one plane against one ship.

Imperial command received
I will go
For Empire
As shield of skies
I will fall


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter and poem come from Kitagawa (1983, 206-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 214), Kitagawa (1983, 206), and Osuo (2005, 198). The photograph at bottom comes from Osuo (2005, 114).

Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return) (Kitagawa 1983) is a book of last letters written by the Navy's Kamikaze Special Attack Corps members. However, Kitagawa does include also a few letters written by Army Special Attack Corps members such as this one by Andō.

Notes

1. The pronunciation of the given name of 康治 could not be confirmed. Both Kōji and Yasuharu are common pronunciations, so Kōji has been selected arbitrarily for this English translation.

2. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means "divine land."

3. Literally five shaku, which is the equivalent of 4.97 feet.

Sources Cited

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.


51st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron.
Corporal Kōji Andō standing second from right in back row.