Last Letters of Corporal Torao Katō to Family
On May 4, 1945, Corporal Torao Katō took off from Chiran Air Base
as a member of the 109th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special
(suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army Type 97
Fighter (Allied code name of Nate). After his death in a special attack,
he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture
and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi)
He wrote the following three final letters with a death poem in tanka
form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) at the end:
Be in high spirits. I will sink a huge guy.
109th Shinbu Squadron
Please live in high spirits. I remembered when I was going to elementary
school and you cared for me when I fell from the slide. I will work and die
To Older Brother Isao and Reiko,
Please live in high spirits. I certainly will hit the target. After I am
not here, only you will be able to care for Mother. Reiko, do not cause
worries for Mother.
Sparing nothing I will become a shield for the Emperor
Even though my five-foot body is broken into tiny pieces
109th Shinbu Squadron
Letters and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letters and poem come from Yasukuni Jinja (2019, 79-80). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 124, 172) and Osuo (2005, 205). The image of the actual letter below to Torao
Katō's mother comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 124).
Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack
Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu
kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special
Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima
Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 2019. Eirei no koto no ha (11)
(Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 11). Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja
Corporal Torao Katō's Last Letter to Mother