10th Ko Class Monument to Vanguard of Special Attack Corps
Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture
About half of the 1st Kamikaze Special Attack Unit pilots who died in attacks
graduated from the 10th Ko Class of the Yokaren,
the Navy's Preparatory
Flight Training Program . Surviving members of the 10th Ko Class Association
erected this monument in remembrance of the 1st Kamikaze Special Attack Unit, and the unveiling ceremony took place in April 1994.
This monument is located in the cemetery at Shoten Temple in Takarazuka City. Takarazuka Naval Air Group started in August 1944 as a detachment of Shiga
Naval Air Group and became an independent air group in March 1945.
Takarazuka Air Base, along with several other air bases, had responsibility for Yokaren
training in the last year of the war.
The 10th Ko Class Monument to Vanguard of Special Attack Corps has the
In the early part of the Showa Period (1926-1989), the Ko Preparatory
Flight Training Program (Yokaren) was established with the aim of drastically
expanding the Navy's air power. On April 1, 1942, we joined Tsuchiura
Naval Air Group as students of the Yokaren's 10th Ko Class. We endured
rigorous training, finished the flight training program, and took off for the
skies of the Pacific War's decisive battles. In October 1944, a great American
task force, including some 30 aircraft carriers, crowded in and around Leyte
Gulf in the Philippines. The naval battle off the coast of the Philippines
with the Combined Fleet, with Vice Admiral Kurita leading the main force, was the
fiercest naval air battle during the Pacific War. At this critical moment of
our country's existence, Vice Admiral Takijiro Ohnishi, 1st Air Fleet
Commanding Officer, decided there was no other way but to attach 250-kg bombs
on Zero fighters to carry out "body-crashing" (taiatari) attacks one
by one. On October 19, the formation of a special attack unit was directed by
Commander Tamai, second in command of the 201st Air Group. The 24 men who
received orders were selected from Zero pilots who were former students of the
10th Ko Class, and they formed the 1st Kamikaze Special Attack Unit.
Ah, this was the vanguard of the Special Attack Corps:
The Japanese spirit is like mountain cherry blossoms, radiant in the
morning sun (by Motoori Norinaga). 
The names of the four squadrons (Shikishima - poetic name for Japan, Yamato
- ancient name for Japan, Asahi - morning sun, and Yamazakura - mountain
cherry blossoms) came from this poem, and the Kikusui Squadron was added soon
afterward. Searching for the enemy for several days until October 25, each
squadron successfully found them. Strong in their conviction of retaliation
while praying for the peace and security of their homeland, all planes plunged
downward and accomplished great battle results. Young men not even 20 years
old, believing fervently in final victory for their homeland, carried out
their mission silently and gave their lives in battle as they thought of their
fathers and mothers and remembered their hometowns. Of the 1,004 men who
graduated in the 10th Ko Class, 80% did not return alive. We erect this monument in
order to make known to posterity their noble pure deeds and spirits, to
comfort their souls, and to praise their virtue.
The cemetery has a small memorial hall dedicated to the Yokaren's 10th Ko
Class. This hall, not open to the public, was built in 1978 and contains mainly
photos and a small wooden Kannon (Buddhist goddess of mercy) statue that stands in the back center of the hall.
A replica of a Zero fighter is on top of the building.
Replica of Zero fighter
on top of memorial hall
Memorial hall with
10th Ko Class Monument
to left of stairs
1. The table of kamikaze pilot deaths in Tokkotai Senbotsusha
(1990, 130-1) indicates that 19 of 39 pilots who died in battle as part of the 1st Kamikaze Special Attack
Unit were from the Yokaren's 10th Ko Class.
2. Source of English translation of poem: Inoguchi
and Nakajima 1958, 24.
Inoguchi, Rikihei, and Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau.
1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Tokkotai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai (Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kougekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tokyo: Tokkotai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai.