Iwo Jima 1st and 2nd Mitate Special Attack Squadrons Monument
Iwo Jima (Iōtō in Japanese), Tōkyō Prefecture
The monument to remember the 1st and 2nd Mitate Special Attack Squadrons
stands atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima to the right of the American monument
that commemorates the site where Old Glory was raised on Mount Suribachi by six
marines on the fourth day of the Battle of Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. The
plaque in the middle has engraved the following history with the right monument
dedicated to the 1st Mitate Special Attack Squadron and the left to the 2nd
Mitate Special Attack Squadron:
After American forces occupied Saipan Island in June 1944, they deployed
B-29s to the same island in October. They planned to bomb the Japanese
As for our forces, in order to counter this, large Navy and Army aircraft
took off from this island from the beginning part of November until near the
end of the year. In 11 separate operations, a total of 73 night bombers
repeatedly made attacks. With strengthened response measures by the American
side, we suffered increasing losses, and in the end 34 aircraft were lost.
Associated with this there were extremely heavy losses of crewmen.
During this period the 1st Mitate Special Attack Squadron took
off from this island during the morning of November 27. Guided by two Saiun
reconnaissance aircraft (Allied nickname of Myrt), 12 Zero fighters carried
out a midday shooting against B-29s at Saipan Airfield and struck terror
into the hearts of American forces.
In light of the impending war situation, American forces were driven by
necessity to capture Iwo Jima without delay. In February 1945, they
organized a huge attack force and came to invade the island. Against this,
on our side the 2nd Mitate Special Attack Squadron achieved a great battle
result. Meanwhile, on the island 70,000 men in offensive and defensive
forces on both sides continued intense fighting for over a month. One
passage in a telegram to Imperial Headquarters stated, "The predominant
feature of the fighting is that the enemy is aboveground and our troops are
underground." This quotation portrays clearly the condition of the fighting.
When we remember the battle situation in those days as we now stand on
this mountain top with a view of four stone monuments and with an overhead
view of the signposts that we followed, the history of that battle becomes
clear. With many tears we join our hands together in prayer as we remember
with a view of the sun setting far away in the sea among the clouds and
The back of the plaque has the monument's erection date of November 1, 1982,
by the Association of Iwo Jima.
"Mitate" means "emperor's shield" in Japanese. Several other Navy Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps squadrons used the name Mitate.
Monuments on Mt. Suribachi (L to R): Marine Corps Monument
where American flag was raised, 1st and 2nd Mitate Special Attack
Squadrons Monument, and Iwo Jima War Dead Monument
The monument plaque does not give details on the battle results achieved by
the two Mitate Special Attack Squadrons. Based on information from Osuo (2005,
45-9), the 1st Mitate Special Attack Squadron took off from Iwo Jima's Chidori
Airfield at 8 a.m. on November 27, 1944, and arrived at the airspace over Isley Airfield in Saipan at
1:10 p.m. The strafing attack by the Zero fighters totally destroyed two B-29
bombers and caused major damage to seven other B-29s. All but one of the eleven
attacking Zero fighters were shot down by anti-aircraft fire and P-47
Thunderbolt fighters. One Zero left Saipan after the attack but crashed, killing
the pilot, when trying to land on Pagan Island, 320 kilometers north of Saipan.
On the way to Saipan, the propeller of one of the twelve Zero fighters in the
original squadron hit the
waves, so the pilot was forced to land on Pagan Island. The squadron was
originally named the Saipan Special Strafing Squadron when formed on November
24, 1944, but after the attack the squadron was renamed the 1st Mitate Special
View from Mount Suribachi of black sand beach
along southeast side of Iwo Jima where
American forces landed on February 19, 1945
The 2nd Mitate Special Attack Squadron took off from Katori Air Base in Chiba
Prefecture. The web page on the Katori Air Base
provides the following history of the 2nd Mitate Squadron:
On February 19, 1945, the same day as the start of the Iwo Jima invasion,
the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Mitate
Special Attack Squadron was formed from the 601st Air Group at Katori Air Base with 12
two-seat carrier dive bombers (nicknamed "Judy" by Allies), 8 Tenzan
(Jill) three-seat carrier attack bombers, and 12 escorting Zero (Zeke) fighters.
The 2nd Mitate Squadron led by Lieutenant Hiroshi Murakawa took off the next morning toward Iwo Jima but returned to
base due to poor weather.
In the early morning of February 21, 1945, the 2nd Mitate Squadron took off again from Katori Air Base. After the
aircraft refueled at Hachijōjima Island, about 300 km south of Katori, the
Japanese aircraft headed toward the American fleet near Iwo Jima. The suicide
attacks sunk the escort carrier Bismarck Sea (CVE-95), heavily damaged the
carrier Saratoga (CV-3) and cargo ship Keokuk (AKN-4), and
slightly damaged the escort carrier Lunga Point (CVE-94) and amphibious
ships LST-477 and LST-809. The 2nd Mitate Squadron lost 43 men in attacks that
day (20 men in 10 Suisei bombers, 18 men in 6 Tenzan bombers, and
5 Zero pilots). Some aircraft never reached the Iwo Jima area. One Tenzan
bomber returned to Hachijōjima due to mechanical problems, and another did not
make a sortie from Hachijōjima due to damaged landing gear. Two Suisei bombers got hit by American Grumman Hellcat
fighters in the skies near Hachijōjima, but they both made it back to the island
airfield. On March 1, 1945, one of these Suisei bombers made a sortie alone from Hachijōjima toward Iwo Jima to make a suicide attack.
Casualties from the attack by the 2nd Mitate Squadron are summarized
Carrier Saratoga (CV-3) - 123 killed, 192 wounded
Escort carrier Bismarck Sea (CVE-95) - 119 killed, 99 wounded
Cargo ship Keokuk (AKN-4) - 17 killed, 44 wounded
LST-477 - 9 killed, 5 wounded
Escort carrier Lunga Point (CVE-94) - 11 wounded
Access to Iwo Jima is extremely limited and requires permission from the
Government of Japan in order to visit. Each year there is a commemoration of the Battle of Iwo
Jima. The following excerpt from the brochure for the 69th Anniversary
Commemoration on March 19, 2014, explains the event's history:
On 19 February 1945, the United States of America and the Empire of Japan
met again in conflict on the island of Iwo Jima. During the Battle of Iwo
Jima, the Japanese lost 21,570 and United States lost 6,821 and suffered
Forty years later, these nations met again on Iwo Jima, this time to
bring together the veterans from this battle in a "Reunion of Honor" and to
dedicate a monument in recognition of the sacrifices and lives both nations
gave during this engagement.
In 1995, the surviving veterans of the Iwo Jima Association of America
and the Japanese IwoTo Association agreed to meet every year on IwoTo to
commemorate the occasion with a "Reunion of Honor."
This year marks the 69th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Iwo
Eight American veterans of Battle of Iwo Jima
at 69th Anniversary Commemoration on March 19, 2014
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tokyo: Kojinsha.