To the end of the flowing clouds:
Writings of Navy reserve
who died in war (1952)
Last Statement of Lieutenant Junior Grade Yuzuru Ogata
At 1120 on March 21, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Yuzuru Ogata took off from
Kanoya Air Base in a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Betty)
carrying an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb. It was planned for Ogata to
pilot the ōka glider bomb into an American ship after it was dropped from the
bomber, but from 1420 to 1445 a group of about 50 American Grumman fighters
intercepted the 18 Betty bombers that had taken off from Kanoya and shot all of
them down before any ōka glider bomb could be released. Ogata died in this
special (suicide) attack at the age of 23. He was a member of the Jinrai Butai
(Thunder Gods Corps) Ōka Unit. He was from Kumamoto Prefecture, attended Kansai University in
Ōsaka Prefecture, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's
Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
He wrote the following final statement:
At time of sortie
My dear old town, the old familiar people, now I will give up everything
as I go forth during the country's crisis.
I will live for an eternal cause. Now I begin the attack and as a spirit
will return to the country. I will fall like a cherry blossom and become a
spirit that protects the country forever.
Farewell. I, a glorious mountain cherry blossom, will return to my
mother's side and bloom.
Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade
Naito (1989, 113) describes below how the ōka pilots (identified as "Thunder
Gods") wrote their death statements after Lieutenant Commander Gorō Nonaka,
leader of the 1st Ōka Squadron of 18 Betty bombers and 15 ōka glider bombs,
received the official order at 0945 on March 21, 1945, for launching the first ōka mission:
Nonaka selected the best pilots in his squadron for the mission, dividing
the 18 into six groups of three. Only 15 of the Bettys were to carry Thunder
Gods and their stubby-winged Ohka bombs. Lieutenant Mitsuhashi and his 14
men were chosen to man the flying bombs.
The 15 Thunder Gods and the mother plane crews took clippings from their
fingernails and hair and placed them in unpainted wooded boxes for delivery
to their parents so they could hold funeral services for them. They took off
their old clothes and burned them, putting on new uniforms. They then sat
down and carefully wrote out their death statements.
Last statement translated by Bill Gordon
The last statement comes from Hakuō Izokukai
(1952, 22-3). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Bungei Shunjū (2005, 568-9), Hakuō Izokukai
(1971, 22), and Osuo (2005, 181).
Bungei Shunjū, ed. 2005. Ningen bakudan to yobarete: Shōgen
- ōka tokkō (They were called human bombs: Testimony - ōka special attacks). Tōkyō: Bungei Shunjū.
Hakuō Izokukai (Hakuō Bereaved Families Association), ed.
1952. Kumo nagaruru hate ni: Senbotsu kaigun hikō yobi gakusei no shuki
(To the end of the flowing clouds: Writings of Navy reserve student who died
in war). Tōkyō: Nihon Shuppan Kyōdō.
Naito, Hatsuho. 1989. Thunder Gods: The Kamikaze Pilots Tell
Their Stories. Translated by Mayumi Ishikawa. Tōkyō: Kōdansha
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.