Miyakonojō Air Base
Hayate Special Attack
Shinbu Unit (1977)
Last Letter of Corporal Hajime Shimizu to His Parents
On May 25, 1945, Corporal Hajime Shimizu took off from Miyakonojō East
Airfield as a member of the 57th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a
special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army
Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After his death in a special
attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from
Hyōgo Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth Pilot
(Rikugun Shōhi) training program.
He wrote the following final letter:
Today when the war situation has become increasingly more critical, I
trust that there have been no changes and that you are concentrated on
increasing production. I am sorry that I caused you only troubles for a long
time during my 19 years . The fighting really
has become extremely fierce, and for Japan with its imperial Era of 3,000
years, the time has come for the battle at Okinawa. I am happy above
anything else to have the honor to be able to serve with my limited ability.
Today the great deed for my life has come. I certainly will do it. Please
wait for news of an instant sinking. There remains nothing but to make a
taiatari (body-crashing) attack into an enemy aircraft carrier. Thus,
enclosed are my personal effects along with a lock of hair and fingernail
When I think back on my life, I truly was happy. By selfishly living how
I wished and doing what I wanted to do, I really caused you grief. Please
forgive me for being this way. To make up for this, I surely will go to fall
splendidly as a young cherry blossom.
I was born as a Japanese male. It is my primary joy that I can join this
battle that will decide the fate of this Empire.
Even though I am just 20 years of age  with
the rank of Corporal, the longstanding Yamato 
spirit is overflowing in this small heart.
Dear Parents, thank you. I very warmly thank you. Even though this letter
arrives, please praise me without crying at all. I am writing this letter as
I imagine this letter arriving and your reading it.
Finally, please handle the following for these persons:
— relatives and neighbors
— former teachers, Kumota, Mimura, Izuka, Iwamoto
— village mayor, Takemura
Please give them my warm regards, say that I bloomed splendidly and went,
and tell them that I truly thank them for what they did for me for a long
Since I am sending many photos that will arrive next month, please send
one each to the persons above.
The battle attack will begin at 4 a.m. tomorrow on the 25th.
Written at 2300 on May 24
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Terai (1977, 70-1). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō
Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 195), Osuo (2005, 199), and Terai (1977, 70).
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 19
whereas Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai
(2005, 195) gives his age as 18.
2. It is not known why he gives his age here as
20, whereas earlier in the letter he mentions his age as 19.
3. Yamato is a poetic name for Japan.
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.
Terai, Shun'ichi, ed. 1977. Kōkū Kichi Miyakonojō Hayate
Tokkō Shinbutai (Miyakonojō Air Base Hayate Special Attack Shinbu Unit).