Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps (1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps in 1970)
Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Yoshizō Watanabe to His Parents
At 1245 on April 6, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Yoshizō Watanabe took off
from Kushira Air Base as radio operator/gunner in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of
Kate) carrying an 800-kg bomb. He was a member of
the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 1st Goō Hakuro  Squadron
from Himeji Naval Air Group. He died in
a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 20. He was from Hokkaidō
Prefecture and was a member of the 12th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren
(Preparatory Flight Training Program).
He wrote the following final letter:
Hope you are feeling better and better. The war situation is as you see
in the newspapers. There are also few remaining students from my same class
in the good old days. The longed-for opportunity has arrived. After enjoying
a year and a half biding my time, I will only display my skills.
Now I will make a sortie. I have not one regret. Life and death for
someone like me are not worthy to be a problem. My long-cherished desire is to be able to carry out only my mission.
Shinshū  is absolutely indestructible.
regards to everyone. I will go together with Yoshirō's spirit.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kitagawa
(1970, 112-3). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
(1970, 112) and Osuo (2005, 220).
1. The word Goō means "protecting the Emperor."
Hakuro (白鷺), also pronounced as shirasagi, means white egret. Himeji Castle, which dates back to the 14th
century, has the name of Shirasagi Castle or Hakuro Castle. The squadron's
pronunciation of Hakuro comes from several Japanese sources including the
following article from Sankei News dated May 23, 2017: "Hakuro-tai no tokkō
ni shiryō de semaru: Himeji-shi heiwa shiryōkan de ihin nado 200-ten tenji"
(Approaching the special attacks of Hakuro Squadrons through source material:
200 objects displayed at Himeji City Peace Museum) <https://www.sankei.com/region/news/170523/rgn1705230024-n1.html>
(January 13, 2020).
2. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means
Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1970. Ā kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho
shū (Ah, Kamikaze Special Attack Corps:
Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.