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Last Letter from Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Nobutaka Inoue to His Parents

Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Nobutaka Inoue from Osaka died at the age of 18 in a special (suicide) attack near Okinawa. On April 28, 1945 [1], he took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as navigator in a two-man Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) as a member of the Navy's Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. He graduated in the 13th Ko Class of the Yokaren (Naval Preparatory Flight Training Program), and he was a member of the 3rd  Kusanagi Squadron from Nagoya Air Group.

He wrote the following last letter to his parents on the day before his final mission:

Father and Mother,

Please excuse this hastily written letter. I sincerely thank you for taking care of me until this, my 18th, year.

I also at last have joined the Special Attack Corps, an airman's highest honor, and it has been decided that I will make a sortie. I am sorry that recently I have not been able to send you news, but this also is unavoidable for military reasons. However, I have not regretted this. My heart is full of gratitude not only to you who have taken care of me until now but also to the senior officers and my friends from whom I as a single person have received so much.

Please enjoy good health until the day when in the end the Greater East Asia War is won. Even though my body disappears, my spirit only will remain. Please let me have the honor of seeing your cheerful faces from the skies of Yasukuni [2]. The end is near. I want to write various things, but I do not know which ones are best to write.

Tomorrow at last I will fly to Okinawa and carry out a taiatari (literally "body crashing") attack. I will die for an eternal cause believing I follow after my younger brothers and convinced of certain victory. If a white wooden box arrives [3], please praise me without crying. I earnestly request this of you.

I could not do any acts of filial piety for you, but I ask my older brother to do this. The enclosed photograph was taken just before my takeoff. I am in high spirits. Please rest assured. They are dirty nail clippings, but I enclose them with this letter.

I hope you live long and take good care of yourselves.

Please say hello from me to our neighbors and relatives.

Nobutaka
April 27, 1945

Nobutaka visited twice with his friends to the home of Ritsu Tsurumaru, who lived near Kokubu No. 2 Air Base. On April 28, 1945, Tsurumaru wrote a letter to his parents describing these two visits and his takeoff toward Okinawa.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
August 2009

Source of Letter and Photo

The letter and photo are from Iwamoto and Tsutomu (1992, 90-1). Kiyoshi Iwamoto kindly granted permission for their use.

Notes

1. The 4th Kikusui (Floating Chrysanthemum) mass kamikaze attack during the Battle of Okinawa took place on April 28, 1945.

2. Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo is Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

3. A white wooden box was how the Japanese military usually delivered the remains of war dead to their families. In the case of kamikaze pilots, the remains such as fingernails or hairs from the head would often be prepared in advance. There are also cases where the white box would arrive at the family's home with no remains.

Source Cited

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