Last letters of youth: Writings
of "Yokaren" war dead (1968)
Last Letter of Flight Chief Petty Officer Shinzō Tabata to his Father
At 1339 on April 6, 1945, Flight Chief Petty Officer Shinzō Tabata took off
from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb
and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 20. He was a member
of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Shinken Squadron from Ōmura Naval
Air Group. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Otsu Class
of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).
Tabata wrote the following final letter:
Finally I will do it. Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Hirade from Kawasaki
 is my wingman. Our spirits are one as persons
from the same prefecture. Ah, it is truly joyful to make a sortie to the
I pray for the health of you and everyone.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha
(1968, 122-3). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1968, 122) and Osuo (2005, 201).
1. Kawasaki is a city in Tabata's home prefecture
of Kanagawa. Osuo (2005, 201) indicates that Kōji Hirade also died in a special
attack on April 6, 1945, but his sortie time was 1610, about two and a half
hours after Tabata's.
Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun on isho: "Yokaren"
senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war
dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.