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I will die in a special attack:
Yokaren writings
(1973)

 
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Rikiya Yamada to His Parents

At 1219 on April 12, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Rikiya Yamada took off from Kanoya Air Base in a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Betty) carrying underneath an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb that he would pilot after being dropped from the bomber. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 19. He was a member of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps) 3rd Ōka Squadron of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. He was from Kagawa Prefecture and was a member of the 15th Class of Navy Reserve Trainees (Yobi Renshūsei) [1] at Ehime Pilot Training School.

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Parents,

Have you been doing well? I am full of high spirits.

At this time I joined the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. Praying for certain victory in my life of twenty years [2], I will die for an eternal cause.

Take care of yourselves.

Farewell forever.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
November 2018

The letter comes from Orihara (1973, 307). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Bungei Shunjū (2005, 571), Orihara (1973, 307), and Osuo (2005, 186).

Notes

1. Orihara (1973, 307) indicates that Yamada was a member of the 11th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program), but Osuo (2005, 186) and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 176) indicate that he was a member of the 15th Class of Navy Reserve Trainees.

2. 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 20 whereas Orihara (1973, 307) gives his age at death as 19.

Sources Cited

Bungei Shunjū, ed. 2005. Ningen bakudan to yobarete: Shōgen - ōka tokkō (They were called human bombs: Testimony - ōka special attacks). Tōkyō: Bungei Shunjū.

Orihara, Noboru, comp. 1973. Ware tokkō ni shisu: Yokaren no ikō (I will die in a special attack: Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) writings). Tōkyō: Keizai Ōraisha.

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

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.