Another "Eternal Zero":
Tsukuba Naval Air Group (2014)
Last Letter of Ensign Michinori Machida to His Mother
At 0658 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Michinori Machida took off from Kanoya Air Base
as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a special
(suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 24 . He was a member of the
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Tsukuba Squadron. After his death in a special
attack, he received a promotion to Lieutenant. He was from Kagoshima Prefecture,
studied in the Agriculture Department at Kyūshū Imperial University, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve
Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
He wrote the following final letter:
When I think about Father who regrettably ended as only a Buddhist monk
since he had no career although he was smart, more than ever I am able to
understand his innermost thoughts, and I can feel deeply thankful for his
kindness of sending me to school even though difficult to do so with no
money. I deeply regret going to die without being able to give peace of mind
to you who have toiled and toiled, but please forgive me when I have fallen
like a man for the Empire. I, who often cried when I heard your bedtime
stories when I was very young, now in everything I have become person with
an unmoved and withered heart. Sometimes I regret that I do not shed tears.
If I really could have deep emotions and shed tears, I think that perhaps it
would be good to be refreshed.
However, I grew up being educated to bottle up all of my emotions as a
Kyūshū person, and in one way that gives me a feeling of bitterness.
With the shutters closed and one opened for a skylight, nearby Mother was
knitting busily. We were bored, so we tried to coax her to give us some
food. Before very long Mother surely made something for us. Ah, the memories
of my childhood truly are becoming faraway things.
As for Younger Brother Yasunori, I wonder how he has been doing. After
all I do not know if he is in northern China. I wanted to see one time his
figure in a military uniform.
I feel like I want to walk together with you Mother. Desiring to give you
peace of mind, I already have passed away. Without even repaying you for
your troubles for us, without showing you joy in your old age, it is
regrettable that I go to die. The attainment of my and Yasunori's hopes will
be for Masanori. I earnestly desire that he grow up obediently and in high
spirits. I am hoping that he accomplishes Father's intention. Mother, after
I fall, please look to Masanori. Please live peacefully and happily as a
family. In this battle I certainly will annihilate the enemy.
Young Ayako in the prime of her life has experienced a great deal of
hardships. Without even makeup, without even a kimono, I think that she only
has worked for the family. I indeed bow to her. Please find a good
bridegroom. I ask that Saeko-chan
 obediently be a good child.
From Yasukuni Shrine I will be praying for that. Yasunori also has an
indescribable style. He surely must have the some thoughts as I do.
Do not be sad at all. Since I will be happy if you will be glad, please
praise me a lot.
I pray that you will take good care of your health. Farewell.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Katabami
(2014, 94, 97). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(2014, 94) and Osuo (2005, 198-9).
1. The age at death is not given in any of the
sources. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 202) indicates his birth year as 1920, so
he would have been either 24 or 25 years old at his death.
2. The suffix -chan is often added to
children's names when calling them by their given names.
Katabami, Masaaki. 2014. Mō hitotsu no "Eien no Zero":
Tsukuba Kaigun Kōkūtai (Another "Eternal Zero": Tsukuba
Naval Air Group). Tōkyō: Village Books.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.