Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps (1971)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Atsuo Matsunaga to His Mother and Aunt
At 2330 on June 25, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Atsuo Matsunaga took off
from Koniya Air Base in Amami Ōshima as pilot in a Type 0 Observation Seaplane (Allied code name of
Pete) carrying a 250-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps 12th Air Flotilla Two-Seat Reconnaissance Seaplane Squadron
from Amakusa Naval Air Group. He died in
a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 17. He
Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren
(Preparatory Flight Training Program).
He wrote the following final letter to his mother and aunt:
Now I with calmness will be a cornerstone for the Empire. Smiling, I will
go and fall as a splendid cherry blossom in the spring. For 19 years
since I was born  in Shimane in the divine
country Yamato , I only gave trouble to you,
Mother and Aunt. Going without being able to do for you any filial piety at
all is my greatest regret, but now I live for an eternal cause and go to die
as a shield for the Emperor in the Okinawan sea as a Special Attack Corps
member during the bloody battle. Saying "this is the long-cherished desire
of a military man," I believe that this will be the beginning of filial
piety. It will console your hearts.
As a result of rigorous training, your self-centered son at last will be
able to so something useful. Born as a Japanese man, I as a crewman who will
do the most worthwhile work have the honor of going to die at the place of
the decisive battle at Okinawa while the country is being attacked
violently. I have no regrets. Out of several hundred ships of the ugly enemy
approaching in surges on the rough waves of the Pacific Ocean, my plane that
will carry a giant bomb certainly will sink instantly an enemy ship and in
the Okinawan sea will open up as cherry blossoms on many branches. Farewell,
Mother and Aunt. Please have Takako grow up in good health and promise with
your heart that she will be my successor. Definitely please do not cry.
Please smile. I surely will take revenge for Father.
Young cherry blossom living for an eternal cause
Just to go bravely in skies of Okinawa
Please take good care of the paulownia tree that I received from Older
Sister Fusa. I wish success for everyone in the family.
Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poem come from Matsugi
(1971, 94-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1971, 94) and Osuo (2005, 240).
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 explains why the letter
indicates his age as 19 whereas the current way of counting age indicates that
his age was 17 at time of death based on his birth date given in Matsugi (1971,
2. Yamato is an ancient name for Japan.
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.