At 1220 on April 16, 1945, Ensign Mitsuo Satō took off from Kanoya Air Base
as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special
(suicide) attack southeast of Kikaijima at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps 4th Shōwa Squadron from Yatabe Naval Air Group. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture, attended Senshū University in Tōkyō
to study economics, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve
Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
He wrote the following final diary entries while at Yatabe Air Base and
Kanoya Air Base:
Today we received an order to stand by.
I prepared my baggage, had my hair cut, and took a lock of hair for a
memento. I took a bath and when I was preparing sake to drink, an order came
for the men who were to advance to assemble, and we gathered together. There
were instructions regarding tomorrow's advance. Leave from base was granted,
and I left for Tsuchiura.
I woke up about 3 in the morning and returned to base. I prepared
everything and lined up at 8:30. I took off after 9:30. To those who were
waving their caps to send us off, I nodded in return as I took off.
Visibility was bad. From Funabashi I crossed Tōkyō Bay and entered Kanagawa
Prefecture. It was not noticed that the 2nd Shōtai (Section) was not
following behind us. Our number 2 plane returned to the airfield just after
taking off. Together with the lead plane were the four planes of the
Suddenly when I looked below, it was the Sagami River. When I looked
back, my squadron could be seen a little behind. From the skies I gave them
a long farewell.
I set about toward Hakone. The air currents were bad. From time to time I
entered a small air pocket. I could clearly see Ashinoko Lake. When I was
going over the mountains of Chūbu Region, the air currents were getting
worse and worse. I arrived safely at Suzuka. I filled up with fuel.
Before Shikoku my engine condition was bad. My acceleration was not
working. I was flying with a low pitch. I arrived at Tokushima and had the
spark plugs changed. Since there was not time, Lieutenant Junior Grade
Marushige and Yashima went ahead. Ensign Kimura and I remained. We planned
to spend the night, but the engine was fixed, an operational check was run,
and we departed.
I went up the Yoshino River. I flew a direct course from Cape Ashizuri in
Kōchi to Kanoya. As usual the acceleration was bad. I flew at 1,500
revolutions and was concerned about the fuel gauge. At sea level it
indicated close to zero. I was uneasy. I entered Kyūshū and was relieved
when I saw Miyakonojō. When landing at Kanoya, the landing area was not
separated off, so I retried and landed on the second try. While I was moving
on the ground, my fuel gave out, and my engine stopped. Even though I waited
for maintenance workers, they did not come. Leaving the plane just as it
was, I walked to the place that I understood to be the command office. I did
not know that there were many command offices for separate units. While
inquiring, I soon found it. I lodged in an elementary school. It was like
Ryōzanpaku . Although it was rough and
inconvenient, I was again happy. I ate and had a sound sleep. There was
liquor, but I did not feel like drinking. The men of the first squadron to
depart were all there. I slept together with Nakamura and Shinozaki in the
same room like we did long ago.
I woke up at 6:30. We spent the day on stand-by. When I continue to be
slovenly for a few days, it seems that my physical condition will go. I do
not have any attachment to life. I am not thinking even that today or
tomorrow I will die. It is calm with a gentle spring wind. We are hopeful. I
went to take a bath at a private house. My heart is good. An extra fuel tank
was loaded on the rear seat. The 2nd Shōtai and Ensign Kitahara have not yet
arrived. I am concerned.
It is good weather. I washed my face in a stream in front. I looked
dashing. While on stand-by, the 2nd Shōtai and Ensign Kitahara arrived in
time to receive the sortie order. There were 12 planes. I remain without
having fortune in battle.
We were waiting for radio messages from the planes that made sorties.
There was news about crash dives into aircraft carriers. It seems that most
of the planes were Zero fighters. We who remain must wait until tomorrow for
our turn. I hope that tomorrow there will be nothing written in this diary.
In the morning there seemed to be a task force 130 miles to the
southeast. It was expected that all planes would make sorties, but this was
misinformation. There are indications that today also we will while the time
away. I am disappointed.
In the afternoon at 1400 they held a sports meet. We did slow bicycle
race, fire setter, bottle fishing, instant sinking (gōchin), and
others. Nakamura took two bottles of beer as prizes in bottle fishing. Our
team in instant sinking won two bottles of beer in the same way.
The sports meet ended, and there was an order for everyone to take cover.
A swarm of Grumman fighters came in. I felt the fear of machine-gun
strafing. I stuck close to the ground in a ditch in the countryside, and I
waited for the sound to grow faint. When I raised my head, the next plane
again started to strafe. I was irritated. I could not bear it. It was a
surprise attack. We would also attack aircraft carriers today or tomorrow.
The 1st Kutai (tactical group of four planes) was made up principally of
fighter trainers, and tomorrow in the early morning they would go to attack
the anchorage at Okinawa. Our shōtai would attack the task force. The
day and time were not clear, but I think that we will do it tomorrow.
In the morning I woke up. It was cold. It came about that the squadron
made up principally of Zero fighter trainers led by Ensign Kusamura went to
attack the anchorage and four planes led by Ensign Nishimura went to attack
the task force. There were a total of eight men who remained in the shōtai
led by Lieutenant Junior Grade Marushige and the shōtai led by Ensign
Sadakata. I think that they will not make it to tonight. I am the only
person who remains from the 3rd three-man unit of the Shōwa Squadrons.
The diary entries come from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei
(1966, 137-40). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei
(1966, 137) and Osuo (2005, 203).