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Kokoro no sakebi
(Cries of the heart)

 
Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Yoshio Watahiki

At 1600 on January 6, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Yoshio Watahiki took off from Nichols Airfield in the Philippines in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 23rd Kongō Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Iba (west coast of Luzon) at the age of 22. He was from Ibaraki Prefecture, attended Ibaraki Teachers College [1], was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei), and after completion of training became a member of the 201st Naval Air Group.

He wrote the following final letter after he arrived in the Philippines:

Dear Murahara, Hagiwara, and Kawasaki,

I warmly thank you for your care in many ways while I was staying at Kanoya [2]. Arriving safely by being able to land at the airfield, I remember the kind gifts from everyone.

Thanks to you, I am full of vigor when I feel the winds of this warm country, and my cold has disappeared.

I always keep your handkerchief with writing in blood in my interior pocket. I will certainly hit an enemy ship together with it.

I am praying for your health from the distant offshore white clouds.

Give my regards to all of my classmates.

Yoshio Watahiki


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
March 2018

The letter and biographical information on this page come from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 15).

Notes

1. Osuo 2005, 171.

2. Kanoya was a major Japanese Navy air base in Kagoshima Prefecture on the southernmost Japanese main island of Kyūshū.

Sources Cited

Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.