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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 [1]. 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:

Dear Mother,

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 [2] 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
July 2018

The letter comes from Katabami (2014, 94, 97). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Katabami (2014, 94) and Osuo (2005, 198-9).

Notes

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.

Sources Cited

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.