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Last Letter of Corporal Hiroshi Ōhata

On April 7, 1945, Army Corporal Hiroshi Ōhata took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 74th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in battle at the age of 20 [1]. After his death in a special (suicide) attack, he received a special promotion of four ranks to Second Lieutenant. He grew up in Tochigi Prefecture. He received flight training in the 14th Class of Sendai Pilot Training School.

Ōhata wrote the following last letter to his parents:

We are approaching four years of the Greater East Asia War.

Father and Mother, I want to warmly thank you over and over again for your gift of raising me so well to take care of myself from my birth until today when I am 21 years old.

Now when decisive battle follows decisive battle, finally even the mainland has been turned into a battlefield. At this time of hard-fought decisive battles, please realize what is in my heart as I am able now to spread my wings in the skies of a decisive battle as a man who has a duty in the air to carry out for the Emperor. Still more, no long-cherished desire of a man exceeds the exhilaration of being able to destroy an enemy ship as a member of the glorious Special Attack Corps. Still more, from now I can realize my long-cherished ambition as a man who has a duty in the skies to carry out his destiny with his plane.

Please praise me for being able fortunately to destroy one ship with one plane. Please forgive me if unfortunately I am not able to do this. I am resolved to fight as much as possible to undermine the aspirations of the American fiends.

When an admirable man leaves his hometown and goes to the battlefield, there is more than an expectation of a silent triumphal return. Therefore, please consider that your four sons have already died in battle on behalf of the Emperor.

Death Poem

Sakura, cherry blossom, young cherry blossom
Today even though it falls
Tomorrow will bloom as a flower at Kudan [2]

April 5, 1945, before sortie


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
February 2018

The letter and other information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 118-9).

Notes

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 most likely explains why the background information from Naemura (1993, 118) indicates Ōhata died at the age of 20, but his letter indicates that he is 21 at the time it is written.

2. Kudan Hill is the location in Tōkyō of Yasukuni Jinja, Japan's national shrine to honor spirits of soldiers killed in battle.

Source Cited

Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō Shuppan.