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Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps
(1971)

 
Last Letters of Flight Chief Petty Officer Takeshi Komatsu

At 1200 on February 21, 1945, Flight Chief Petty Officer Takeshi Komatsu took off from Hachijōjima Airfield as pilot of a Suisei Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Judy) loaded with a 500-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Mitate Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Iwo Jima at the age of 21. He was from Kōchi Prefecture and was a member of the 16th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Mother,

I am writing a short letter at the time of my sortie.

The long-awaited splendid sortie has been set for tomorrow. Its suddenness put me a little bit in a fluster, but since I am full of great vigor, please have peace of mind.

It has been here 22 years [1] since I received my life. There is truly no excuse for not being able to repay your kindness in any way. Please forgive me. Please receive as my greatest filial piety my going and falling for the country. When you get the news that I have died in battle, please receive my remains joyfully by cooking red rice [2], not wearing a black kimono, and shouting hurrah.

Please divide my ashes into two parts, half for my father Komatsu and half for my father Nishimura, and bury them next to the graves. Since perhaps there will not be any ashes, I am sending you my exercise shirt. This is an item that I kept as a remembrance since I wore it during the Emperor's visit to Tsuchiura Air Group on July 12, 1942. Please cherish it thinking of me.

Now I have no regrets in particular. At any rate while I am living I am determined absolutely to do my best to the end. I intend surely to sink one or two enemy aircraft carriers.

I hastily have written this letter. Filled with emotion, I am not able to write anything. Here I lay down my pen.

Please live always in very good health. Give my regards to Uncle and Aunt Kishimoto. Take care.

Farewell.

Takeshi

Komatsu also wrote the following last letter to his brother and two sisters:

Dear Hideaki, Hisako, and Tsuneko,

Finally it is my farewell.

Since I will do my very best, please have peace of mind. I have pleasant memories about when I used to argue with all of you when I was young.

You three, please cooperate together and take good care of Mother as far as my portion. I ask this of you.

I am praying that you all will have great happiness. Farewell.

Takeshi


Letters translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letters come from Matsugi (1971, 116-7). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi (1971, 116) and Osuo (2005, 227).

Notes

1. 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 most likely explains why the letter indicates his age as 22 whereas the modern way of counting age based on his birth date (Matsugi 1971, 153) indicates his age was 21 at the time of his death.

2. Sekihan is the Japanese word for "red rice." The sticky rice is steamed with azuki beans, which give the rice a reddish color. Sekihan usually is served to celebrate something.

Sources Cited

Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.

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