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Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Hiroyuki Fukuda to His Mother

At 1514 on April 28, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Hiroyuki Fukuda took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack near Okinawa at the age of 18. He was from the Hyakurihara Naval Air Group and was a member of the 2nd Seitō Special Attack Squadron. He flew a Type 99 Carrier Bomber (Allied code name of Val). He was born and grew up in Mikuni Village (now part of Ogōri City) in Fukuoka Prefecture. He was a member of the 12th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

He wrote the following final letter to his mother. The end of the letter has a tanka poem (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables).

Dear Mother,

Forgive me for not being in touch with you for so long. I hope that everyone is doing fine. I have joined the longed-for Special Attack Corps and will be able to fall as a cherry blossom. I will not forget your kindness up to today even though I die.

My last act of filial piety to you will be to hit the target in an attack. Surely I will carry out a taiatari (body-crashing) attack against an enemy warship.

Mother, please be well. Please take good care of my younger brothers and sisters [1]. Please give my thanks also to everyone in the village.

Well, I apologize for going before you. Let's meet in the gardens at Yasukuni [2].

Young cherry blossoms
Now at peak season
In full bloom
Together go to fall
In Ryūkyū [3] skies

From Hiroyuki


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
December 2017

The letter and biographical information on this page come from Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (2003, 55).

Notes

1. The word in Japanese (teimai) means that he had at least one younger brother and at least one younger sister, but he does not indicate in his letter the number of each.

2. Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō is the place of enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.

3. The Ryūkyū Islands include Okinawa.

Source Cited

Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai.