Last Letters of Navy
Special Attack Corps (1971)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Hajime Sayama to His Parents
Sometime between 1300 and 1345 on April 6, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd
Class Hajime Sayama took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as gunner/radio operator
in a two-man Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a
250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 21.
He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Kusanagi Squadron from
Nagoya Naval Air Group. He was from Ehime Prefecture and was a member of the
13th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).
He wrote the following final letter to his parents:
Preliminaries omitted. I trust that you have been doing well. I am in
very high spirits. Today I received an order to make a sortie as part of the
Special Attack Corps, and I gladly will go on the mission. You showed
concern and care for me in many ways for the long time of 22 years ,
and it truly is regrettable that I have not repaid any of your kindness.
However, I am extremely glad that I have been able to live until the end for
an eternal cause and have been blessed with a good place to die. Never,
never cry. At the time when you are expressing joy about my death, I
probably will start to rise up to heaven.
Now I have no regrets. It is a man's long-cherished desire. April 6 will
be the date of my death.
Late plum or cherry blossoms may be inferior
The first ones have both color and fragrance
When I crash dive aiming at an enemy ship, I will crash dive while
reciting this poem above . Finally this is the
Father and Mother, be in good spirits. If a white wooden box arrives
, I did not do such a great deed, but please
praise me without crying.
Off the shore of Okinawa, ships of the hated ugly enemy are swarming.
They are trying to spy on our Empire with its glorious eternal history of
more than 2,600 years. Since 3,000 years ago, our ancestors have continued to
protect the Empire, and we who are their descendants must protect it with
our hands. That is the mission and obligation of us who were born in the
For our transfer on the 5th from Nagoya to Kagoshima, our planes passed
through the skies over Nyūgawa .
Did you know that on the 5th between about 10 and 11 in the morning about
18 planes passed by? I also was riding inside one of those planes. I could
not make out my home from the air, but I faced toward Yoshida. I prayed for
the health of everyone.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Matsugi
(1971, 157-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Matsugi
(1971, 157) and Osuo (2005, 225).
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 explains why the letter
indicates his age as 22 whereas his birth date of January 1, 1924, given in
Matsugi (1971, 162) indicates his age was 21 at time of death based on the
current method of counting age.
2. This tanka poem (31-syllable poem with a
syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) is very similar to one composed by Yaichi
Kawakami, a 19th-century Imperial loyalist <https://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/sakuramitih15/38793013.html>
(August 3, 2018).
3. A white wooden box was how the Japanese
military usually delivered the remains of war dead to their families. In the
case of kamikaze pilots, the remains such as fingernails or hairs from the head
would often be prepared in advance. There are also cases where the white box
would arrive at the family's home with no remains.
4. Nyūgawa was a town in Ehime Prefecture. In
1971, it merged with Miyoshi Town to become Toyō Town. In 2004, Toyō became part
of Saijō City.
Matsugi, Fujio, ed. 1971. Kaigun tokubetsu kōgekitai no isho (Last letters of Navy Special Attack Corps).
Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.