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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of lost youth
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Masato Yamaguchi to His Mother

Sometime between 1130 and 1150 on April 12, 1945, Ensign Masato Yamaguchi took off from Kokubu No. 1 Air Base as gunner/radio operator in a Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 24. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Hachiman Gokō [1] Squadron from Usa Air Group. He was from Saga Prefecture, attended Ube Technical College in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter to his mother:

Please forgive me for omitting preliminary remarks in haste. Finally the time has arrived when I can repay a ten-thousandth of the Emperor's boundless kindness. For the Empire with its glorious 3,000-year history, now a great decisive battle, with the country's destiny at stake, is developing. I have the privilege of being able to participate in the arena of this great decisive battle. There is nothing that surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of a military man.

When I think back, you raised me with affection for 24 years from the time Father died when I was young. Now the time has come for me to carry out a daring mission to certainly hit a target. I am absolutely determined to carry it out splendidly and achieve honor for the Yamaguchi family name. I, who have not been able to do one act of filial piety, will go believing that this will be my only act of filial piety.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter on this page comes from Kitagawa (1983, 134-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes Kitagawa (1983, 134-5) and Osuo (2005, 217).

Note

1. Hachiman is the Japanese god of military power. Usa City in Ōita Prefecture has the first Hachiman Shrine, which was established in the early 8th century. Gokō means "protecting the Emperor" in Japanese.

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of lost youth). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

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