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Last letters, poems, and
writings of Navy Preparatory
Flight Trainees (1)
(2004)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Isuke Hasegawa to His Family

At 1130 on April 12, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Isuke Hasegawa took off from Kokubu No. 1 Air Base [1] as gunner/radio operator in a Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Hachiman Gokō [2] Squadron from Usa Air Group. He was from Gunma Prefecture and was a member of the 18th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

Now I depart on my mission.

I truly regret very much not being grateful for my upbringing for twenty years [3] and not being able to show any filial piety.

However, this is for the Empire.

Loyalty will be in place of filial piety.

The enemy is drawing near to our mainland. The place where we are is great. Willingly I will become a cornerstone for the Empire.

Finally, I pray for the health and happiness of you my parents and sisters.

I pray for the Empire's prosperity. Ah, azusa [4].

April 5, 1945


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
September 2018

The letter comes from Kojima (2004, 50). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kojima (2004, 50) and Osuo (2005, 217).

Notes

1. Kojima (2004, 50) indicates that Kokubu No. 2 Air Base was the sortie base for the 2nd Hachiman Gokō Squadron. However, Iwamoto and Mukaida (1992, 31) do not list this squadron as making a sortie from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base in their history of this air base. Osuo (2005, 217) specifies the sortie base as Kokubu No. 1.

2. Hachiman is the Japanese god of military power. Usa City in Ōita Prefecture has the first Hachiman Shrine, which was established in the early 8th century. Gokō means "protecting the Emperor" in Japanese.

3. The traditional Japanese method of counting age, as in much of East Asia, regards a child as age one at birth and adds an additional year on each New Year's day thereafter. This explains why the letter indicates his age as 20 whereas Kojima (2004, 50) gives his age as 19.

4. Bows made of azusa (catalpa) wood have been highly regarded in Japan since ancient times. It is uncertain why Watanabe refers to azusa at the end of his letter.

Sources Cited

Iwamoto, Kiyoshi, and Tsutomu Mukaida, eds. 1992. Chinkon -- shirakumo ni norete kimi kaerimase: Tokkō kichi daini kokubu no ki (Repose of souls -- riding on the white clouds, come back to us: Record of Special Attack Corps Kokubu No. 2 Air Base). Mizobe Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Jūsanzukabaru tokkōhi hozon iinkai (Committee to Preserve the Jūsanzukabaru Special Attack Corps Monument).

Kojima, Keizō, ed. 2004. Kaigun hikō yoka renshūsei isho • iei • ikōshū (1) (Last letters, poems, and writings of Navy Preparatory Flight Trainees (1)). Tōkyō: Unabarakai.

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