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Last Letters of Sergeant Yoshitsugu Sunaga to His Family

On November 15, 1944, Sergeant Yoshitsugu Sunaga took off from Marcot Airfield in the Philippines in a Type 4 Heavy Bomber (Allied code name of Peggy) and died east of Luzon in a special (suicide) attack at the age of 25 [1]. He was a member of the Fugaku [2] Squadron. After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Tochigi Prefecture and was a non-commissioned officer who entered the Army in 1939.

Sunaga wrote the following final letter to his parents:

Dear Father and Mother,

Tomorrow morning I will carry out an attack.

As this has been a young man's long-cherished desire from the beginning, I will become a bomb and make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an American aircraft carrier. Two men [3] will share their fate with an aircraft carrier, about 2,000 enemy troops, and more than 100 planes. Isn't this truly thrilling?

Please be glad. Please listen to the radio news, read the newspaper articles, and praise me.

My only regret is that I go while leaving behind my frail parents.

Please think of me when you see the Arawashi (Wild Eagles) decorative object, which was presented at the village shrine when I joined the Army, and the memorial tree planted in the yard.

With this I give my farewell to this life.

November 12, Clark Air Base

He wrote the following last letter to his siblings:

Dear Older Brother, Younger Sisters, and Younger Brothers [4],

In the future without me, please render filial piety to our parents for my part.

Older Brother, please set our parents at ease by taking a bride soon.

Younger Brothers and Sisters, please forgive me for causing you much anxiety.

When I returned home, I believe that I said what I wanted to say. Everyone, do as I said. Please cooperate as siblings to protects our parents, family, and country.

There is no longer time. There truly is no excuse for my messy writing. Please forgive me.

There is not time for me to write to all of the town hall workers, relatives, and neighbors. Please give them my regards.

November 12, at Clark


Translated by Bill Gordon
May 2021

The letters come from Kōchiyama (1990, 218-9, 227-8). The biographical information on this page comes from Kōchiyama (1990, 248), Osuo (2005, 189) and Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 254).

Notes

1. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 254) only indicates that he was born in 1919, so he could have been either 24 or 25 at the date of his death on November 15, 1944. Kōchiyama (1990, 248) gives his age at death as 26, but it is not known how this was calculated. 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, so this could be the reason why Kōchiyama gives an age of 26.

2. Fugaku means Mount Fuji.

3. Sunaga's Army Type 4 Heavy Bomber, which carried out a special attack, had a crew of two men.

4. The number of younger brothers and sisters is not specified in the letter. He may have had one or more younger brothers and one or more younger sisters.

Sources Cited

Kōchiyama, Yuzuru. 1990. On'ai no kizuna tachigatashi: Tokkō taichō Nishio Tsunesaburō no shōgai (Unbreakable bonds of kindness and affection: Life of special attack squadron leader Tsunesaburō Nishio). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Army)). 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.