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Last Letter of Sergeant Tetsurō Koya to His Parents

On April 6, 1945, Sergeant Tetsurō Koya took off from Nyūtabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 27. He was a member of the Makoto 37th Hikōtai (Flying Squadron). He flew in a Type 98 Direct Cooperation Reconnaissance Aircraft (Allied code name of Ida). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He grew up in Kagoshima Prefecture and was a non-commissioned officer who entered the Army in 1939.

He wrote the following final letter to his parents. The end has a haiku poem with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern.

Dear Father and Mother,

I welcome April with cherry blossoms in full bloom. A young cherry blossom of 27 years also will fall as these cherry blossoms.

Now with vigor I will make a sortie and a taiatari (body-crashing) attack. On April 6, I must give my life to the Emperor on that fortunate day.

I know that I should have sent letters individually to my younger brothers and sisters, but now I received the order. Please forgive me for being busy. I ask only that in the future you please encourage them with my spirit.

I will crash and receive sweet dharma [1] rain. If you do not receive news of my death in battle, I will carry out the taiatari attack at 1800 on April 6. I desire to be given a shower of dharma before the Buddha.

Please take care.

I do my service a short time before you. I will be waiting for the coming of everyone. Father, please report this letter to Grandfather.

Tetsurō

When tomorrow I fall
With no expectations
A cherry blossom


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 103, 217) and Osuo (2005, 211).

Note

1. Dharma refers to the basic principles of cosmic or individual existence in Buddhism.

Sources Cited

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.