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Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Hirotsugu Ōide to His Parents

On April 11, 1945, Second Lieutenant Hirotsugu Ōide took off from Giran Airfield in Taiwan and died in a special (suicide) attack off Naha on the west coast of Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the 19th Hikō Sentai (Flying Regiment) and piloted an Army Hien Type 3 Fighter (Allied code name of Tony). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Ōsaka Prefecture, attended Nihon University in Tōkyō, and was in the 1st Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training Program.

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

I have not written to you for a long time.

Being such a long time, truly I think that you may have thought that I had died already. Please rest assured since during that time I was living in good health.

At the time that the letter that I wrote before arrived, the truth is that I expected to fall as a Special Attack Corps member, but without being blessed with the opportunity I have survived until now. Now I again have been blessed with an opportunity to go out. Among the battle results there will be my flesh and blood stuck together. Praying for peace and eternal glory for the Empire, please forgive my fault of lack of filial piety up to now. Younger Brothers and Sisters [1], please forgive my fault of not attaining my role as older brother.

Please be assured on this point that I certainly must show a way of dying where other people will not laugh at it.

At the occasion of my sortie, I am praying for peace in the Empire and that you may be able to keep your health for a long time to make strenuous efforts needed to preserve this glory unmatched in all countries.

As I end writing, if there is an opportunity I want to communicate something. To the teachers who taught me from elementary school when I was young up to middle school and technical school, please tell them, "I have been able to follow your teachings."

And, to the strong youths of Takadono [2] School

At this time of the country's crisis, you all must go forward in some way. You do not need to be talkative. My word to you is that I hope that you will fall nobly and bravely.

Takadono School Teachers

You gave guidance and encouragement to me for a long time. My end seems that it somehow will be carried out second to none. I earnestly hope that you take care of yourselves and strive hard.

Hirotsugu Ōide


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 107). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 107, 192) and Osuo (2005, 213).

Second Lieutenant Kuniomi Watanabe (Army Air Corps Academy, 57th Class), who flew in an escort fighter with Ōide, gave the following account of his death in a letter sent to his parents [3]. On April 22, 1945, Watanabe also died in a special attack.

On April 11, we took off from Giran Base in high spirits as many people saw us off, and we advanced straight toward Okinawa. During the attack, Ōide reached my escort plane and calmly set off on a course of no return. As we advanced, he stuck tightly to the escort plane positions and raised his hand with a smile. When it turned to dusk, in a while we found the enemy task force and could clearly see the white wake it left as it advanced forward. Anti-aircraft fire in an instant enveloped two aircraft just downward to the right. At this time when I signaled by waving my wings, Ōide approached me and was waving with a smile. He turned around and dove directly into the largest cruiser. In an instant black smoke rose up into the air, and the ship was enveloped in pitch black smoke. During the attack we fortunately did not encounter any enemy fighters, and this was the reason that his attack succeeded. I cannot put into words my feeling of loneliness. We also will soon follow after him. Our mission draws near. Please excuse my hasty writing.

Second Lieutenant Kuniomi Watanabe

The southern end of Okinawa has the 19th Hikō Sentai Special Attack Monument to remember the 16 men, including Hirotsugu Ōide, who died in special attacks.

Notes

1. The letter does not specify the number of younger brothers and sisters. There could have been one or more of each.

2. Takadono is a neighborhood in Ōsaka City.

3. Tanaka 2018.

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.

Tanaka, Kenichi. Okinawa junpai ki (Record of Okinawa pilgrimage trip). <http://www.tokkotai.or.jp/contents/pages/43> (July 28, 2018).