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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps
(1971)

 
Last Letters of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Iwao Fumoto to His Family

At 0223 on April 1, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Iwao Fumoto took off from Kanoya Air Base in a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Betty) carrying an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb. He was an ōka pilot in the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 2nd Ōka Squadron from the 721st Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 18. He was from Hiroshima Prefecture and was a member of the 17th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter to his older brother who had died five years before:

Dear Older Brother Akira,

We had delightful times together as we got along well together as brothers from my happy youth until 1940. Older Brother, why were you able to accomplish before me the long-cherished desire of a young man? Isn't it reasonable that you would go before your younger brother? Despite that, you fell heroically ahead of me.

As your younger brother, I truly feel grief. However, Akira, your younger brother Flyboy [1] very certainly will strike your enemies.

Older Brother, I truly apologize to you that your younger brother Flyboy has lived a long life and even has a wife. It cannot be helped. Older Brother, please understand my state of mind.

However, Older Brother, since your younger brother Flyboy also right now will come to your place, I will go to the Kudan [2] gardens and pass my time happily. Older Brother, Flyboy will come to Kudan. Please let me sit down beside you.

Older Brother, please understand my heart when Flyboy recalls the days when you still were alive. Older Brother, as you pleasantly rest in peace, please watch over me at the top of Kudan. Younger brother Flyboy's mission also is important. I certainly will accomplish my mission and go to your place.

Older Brother, please wait comfortably for me at the top of Kudan. Today I am writing as I recall the days during your lifetime. I stop writing as I pray for your happiness in the next world.

He wrote the following final letter on a B-29 parachute:

Fusako, my cute lone younger sister, please always be in high spirits and live happily. Akira and I will be spirits at Yasukuni. I request that you take care of Father and Mother.     Death

Fumoto wrote the following at night five minutes before his sortie:

Beautiful Moon, I surely will succeed in my taiatari (body-crashing) attack.

Please watch over our success from the faraway spring skies.

We brave warriors of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) will die for a great cause.

Gods, please give us divine assistance.     Death

He wrote the following last letter to his parents:

A divine achievement is coming.

Father and Mother, I go before you.

I will die for a great cause.

Today's beautiful moon, is there something that you want to teach me?

I will go today in the night.

Father and Mother, be in good health. Now I will meet my death.


Letters translated by Bill Gordon
September 2018

The letters come from Matsugi (1971, 198-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 198) and Osuo (2005, 185).

Notes

1. Flyboy (飛童) is the nickname that Iwao Fumoto uses for himself with his older brother.

2. Kudan is a hill in Tōkyō where Yasukuni Jinja (Shrine) is located. Yasukuni Jinja is Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

Sources Cited

Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

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