Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Kōichi Suzuki
At 1440 on December 14, 1944, Lieutenant Junior Grade Kōichi Suzuki took off
from Cebu Air Base in the Philippines as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a
250-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Kongō
Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Bacolod at the age of 22. After his
death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. He
was from Gifu Prefecture, attended Nagoya Higher Technical School, and was a
member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi
Gakusei). He received basic training at Tsuchiura Air Base and flight training
at Tsukuba Naval Air Group. In August 1944, he transferred to Takao Naval Air
Group in Taiwan. In November 1944, he joined the 201st Naval Air Group.
He wrote the following last letter with a death poem in tanka form
(31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the beginning. The
letter was sent from Taiwan and arrived at his home on March 8, 1945.
For the country
Falling, a worthy
To become, living
Symbol will be
I will go on the road of a young Yamato man of Shikishima .
This sentence means that I who will not return will attack earnestly to
bury the enemy.
That fleeting moment will make my mother weep.
My remains will be returned, but my personal effects in the end will not
come. I will be buried in an empty white wooden box. Nothing will remain
even though I will return.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Katabami
(2014, 46). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(2014, 46) and Osuo (2005, 167).
1. Both Yamato and Shikishima are poetic names for
Katabami, Masaaki. 2014. Mō hitotsu no "Eien no Zero":
Tsukuba Kaigun Kōkūtai (Another "Eternal Zero": Tsukuba
Naval Air Group). Tōkyō: Village Books.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.