Last Letters of First Lieutenant Kisaku Kataoka to His Wife and Unborn Child
On April 22, 1945, First Lieutenant Kisaku Kataoka took off from Chiran Air
Base as leader of the 81st Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special
(suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 29. He piloted an Army Type 99
Advanced Trainer (Ki-55, Allied code name of Ida). After his death in a special
attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Major. He was from Ibaraki
Prefecture. He was a member of the 1st Class of the Army Youth Pilot
(Rikugun Shōhi) training program and the 21st Class of the Army's Second
He wrote the following final letter to his wife with the names of his two
daughters, Mieko and Reiko, included at the end:
The time for a miraculous deed has arrived. Now I will take off.
I have the sincere devotion of the squadron members listed on a separate
sheet. I will go protected by an affection greater than that of a family. Also,
we have been on stand-by for about ten days at Ozuki Airfield in
Yamaguchi Prefecture and have received sincere hospitality from all of the
villagers. We truly will go with happiness. I am expected to tell you of
these conditions by Toshiko Toyoshima, Asako Sakurai, Nishiyama's wife, and
others who live in the neighborhood of the barracks. (portion omitted).
Please forgive me that I could not do anything for you like a husband. I
will go happily. I pray that you will take of yourself so that you will be able
to live for many years to come with the children.
9:00 on April 20
At command post
From Father Kisaku
The villager Toshiko Toyoshima also gave the squadron members a silk cloth
with the following words written in blood: "Congratulations on first battle.
Praying for success. Shinbu Squadron. Banzai! Toshiko." There is also the
word Yamazakura (mountain cherry blossom) to the side, and its relevance is not
Kataoka wrote the following final letter to his child who had not yet been
To my child to be born,
For the Emperor, your Father as a special attack squadron leader will
crash into an enemy ship with his plane and hit and destroy the targeted
Americans and British. In your infancy you will part from Father, but Mother
is truly a good mother. Since her heart is the same as mine, you will become
a good child who follows carefully her teachings. Without sickness and with
happiness, I will depart from you all. Farewell.
Shigeko gave birth to a son 35 days after her husband died in battle.
Letters translated by Bill Gordon
The letters and biographical information comes from Yasukuni Jinja (1995,
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1995. Sange no kokoro to chinkon no makoto
(Spirits of heroic dead and devotion to repose of souls). Tōkyō: