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Last Letters of Lieutenant Mitsuo Kodama to His Parents

At 1020 on April 6, 1945, Lieutenant Mitsuo Kodama took off from Kokubu No. 1 Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack southeast of Amami Ōshima and Tokunoshima at the age of 22. He was a member of the 210th Naval Air Group Suisei Unit. He flew in a Suisei dive bomber (Allied code name of Judy). He grew up in Kagoshima Prefecture and graduated in the 71st Class of the Naval Academy at Etajima.

Mitsuo Kodama wrote the following final letter to his parents:

Dear Parents,

Enemy aircraft carrier to be sunk at once
Going to hit target with body-crashing attack
This a mountain cherry blossom of Yamato [1]
Attacking, an abiding achievement

It is a time when the sacred land of the Empire, here for three thousand years in the Imperial Era, is being desecrated by enemy Americans and their despicable leaders. Finally I was selected for the next great remarkable deed. There is no honor for a warrior that exceeds this, and I am very joyful. From now, I will ride calmly to my place of death with a smile. There is a lack of discussion about life or death and success or failure. Now I do not have any regrets. Feeling elated, my mission will proceed immediately. I only hope to make known a small part of the Emperor's kindness. The poem at the top of this letter is exhilarating. I am pleased to offer this letter to you, my parents. Thank you for your tender care and your great kindnesses for more than 22 years.

Yours sincerely,
Mitsuo

March 28

Based on the contents of the next letter, it appears to be written before Kodama was assigned to a special attack unit. The above letter dated March 28 was written in extremely formal language, whereas the one below dated February 15 is quite informal and deals with practical matters.

Dear Parents,

Forgive me for skipping the preliminaries.

There must still be intense cold, but I hope everyone is doing well. Since I no longer need money, I will send to you what I have. I sent 200 yen yesterday by money order and 1,000 yen today by telegraphic transfer. I asked an orderly to send 800 yen to you tomorrow by telegraphic transfer. Enclosed is the receipt from the 1,000-yen telegraphic transfer, so please use it to request money if it does not arrive. Since I do not have any good photos, I am sending some available ones of friends. The three small photos were taken after they returned to the mainland.

I think that enemy air attacks in Kyūshū will become more frequent. Please take sufficient care. It must be the time when barley is growing a little larger and taller. You are doing a lot.

Farewell.

Mitsuo

February 15, 1945


Letters translated by Bill Gordon
February 2018

The letters and biographical information on this page come from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 39).

Note

1. Yamato is a poetic name for Japan.

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.