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Last Letter of Flight Chief Petty Officer Yukio Harada to His Parents

At 0840 on March 11, 1945, when the Azusa Special Attack Unit was first beginning to take off from Kanoya Naval Air Base, Flight Chief Petty Officer Yukio Harada wrote his final letter on his own handkerchief. The name of Azusa Special Attack Unit came from the death poem of Kusunoki Masatsura, who was a general in the Nanbokuchō Period (1336-1392) and the heir of Kusunoki Masashige.

The Azusa Special Attack Unit, which would not return again, was formed with 24 land-based Ginga bombers (Allied code name of Frances) and 72 men. With fuel for only one way, they flew 1,600 nautical miles (about 2,930 kilometers), which took more than ten hours. It was a special attack unit that clearly indicated that they would carry out taiatari (body-crashing) attacks.

Like an arrow that does not return when released from an azusa (catalpa) bow used by a female medium in order to remove vengeful ghosts, there would be an attack at Ulithi Atoll in the western Caroline Islands. This was designated the Kikusui Corps Azusa Special Attack Unit.

Thinking that I will not return, I place my name among those killed by the azusa (catalpa) bow.
(death poem by Kusunoki Masatsura)

Flight Chief Petty Officer Yukio Harada's last letter is translated below:

Dear Father and Mother,

Today, I also who am unworthy have been named a Special Attack Corps member, which no desire of a young man can exceed. Living for an eternal noble cause, I will crash into the anchored enemy American fleet in the Pacific Ocean in order to protect Shinshū [1] for the Emperor.

I appreciate very much your great kindnesses.

Please give my regards to the Mizuno family.

Yukio

Yukio Harada was from Okayama Prefecture and died at age 22. He joined the 6th Hei Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program), and after training he became a member of the 262nd Attack Hikōtai.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
December 2017

The letter and biographical information on this page come from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 19).

See Masami Jinno's book entitled Azusa tokubetsu kōgekitai (Azusa special attack unit) (2000) for additional information.

Note

1. Shinshū signifies Japan in this context.

Source Cited

Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai.