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180th Shinbu Squadron
members Sukeo Nitta (left)
and Teruo Usami (right)

 
Last Letter of Corporal Sukeo Nitta to His Parents and Older Sister

On July 1, 1945, Corporal Sukeo Nitta took off from Miyakonojō East Airfield as a member of the 180th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Shimane Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.

He wrote the following final letter. The end of the letter has two death poems in tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables). The two poems are very similar to each other. Corporal Teruo Usami, who is mentioned in the letter below, and Corporal Sukeo Nitta were the only two members of the 180th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron to make a sortie and die in a special attack on July 1, 1945. Corporal Teruo Usami also wrote a last letter to his mother.

Dear Father, Mother, and Older Sister,

Finally it is my last letter.

Please be in high spirits forever. Today I will send a package. I will send as a personal memento the pants of the military uniform that I wore before. Since I will not bring photos of you, I will return these to you. I received the handkerchief that Emiko gave to Usami. I will send this as a personal memento.

The mamoribukuro (small pouch to hold paper charm) was given by Usami's mother (that is to say, my mother).

Please keep the friendship forever. I also am sending together with it a photo of Emiko. Please store it carefully. Older Sister is young, and you Father and Mother have no preference. I will send also my wallet.

Until the very end I did things in high spirits, pleasurably, happily, and cheerfully.

Father, Mother, Older Sister, farewell. Give my best regards to the people who cared for me during my lifetime.

With special attack
A cherry blossom goes and falls
In blizzard of flowers
Born in Emperor's reign
There is purpose

With special attack
A mountain cherry blossom will fall
In blizzard of flowers
Fortunately in Emperor's reign
It is good to have been born

Sukeo


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter comes from Terai (1977, 118-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 199) and Osuo (2005, 206).

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.

Terai, Shunichi, ed. 1977. Kōkū Kichi Miyakonojō Hayate Tokkō Shinbutai (Miyakonojō Air Base Hayate Special Attack Shinbu Unit). Tōkyō: Genshobō.