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Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Shunsuke Tomiyasu to His Family

At 0530 on May 14, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Shunsuke Tomiyasu took off from Kanoya Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack. He was Squadron Leader of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 6th Tsukuba Squadron, which consisted of 14 Zero fighters each carrying a 500-kg bomb. He evaded heavy antiaircraft fire and crashed into the forward elevator of the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CV-6). The damage caused by his plane and its bomb put Enterprise out for the rest of the war. The kamikaze special attack killed 13 and wounded 68.

The family of Shunsuke Tomiyasu, born in 1922 in Nagasaki Prefecture, moved to Tōkyō when he was six years old. Tomiyasu graduated with a degree in political science and economics from Waseda University in Tōkyō, and he started work at the South Manchurian Railroad Company. In September 1943, he entered the Navy in the 13th Class of Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei). He started training at Tsuchiura Naval Air Group and later transferred to Matsuyama Air Group and Okazaki Air Group. In March 1945, he was assigned to the Tsukuba Naval Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture. On April 22, 1945, Tomiyasu went with his Kamikaze Corps squadron to Kanoya Air Base in southern Kyushu to wait for the sortie date.

Tomiyasu wrote the following final letter to his family:

Dear Father, Mother, and Sister,

I was suddenly ordered to make a sortie to a certain area, and I must depart now. Since from the beginning I gave my life for our country, I do not expect to return alive. I surely am determined to achieve excellent battle results.

Today the fate and existence of our country are at hand. We leave as defenders of our country. You may miss me when I am not here, but please live with great enthusiasm and cheerfulness. Worries will cause everyone to be discouraged.

When I entered the Navy, I naturally was prepared for death, so I think everyone also should not feel lonely. I plan to send a letter to Hideo, but please give him greetings also from our home.

Since Lieutenant Junior Grade Kondō plans to go visit you, please meet with him. I will do my very best, so please rest assured about that.

Shunsuke


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
December 2007

The photo of Shunsuke Tomiyasu, his last letter, and information about his life come from the Kasama Museum of History and Folklore (Kasama City, Ibaraki Prefecture), which has an exhibit room dedicated to the history of the Tsukuba Naval Air Group. Some information on the page comes from Katabami (2014, 123) and Stafford (1962, 496-9). The original of Tomiyasu's last letter is held by the Etajima Museum of Naval History.

Sources Cited

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.

Stafford, Edward P. 1962. The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise. New York: Dell.