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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of youth that
would not return
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Cadet Jun Nomoto to His Parents

At 1151 on April 12, 1945, Ensign Cadet Jun Nomoto took off from Kushira Air Base as pilot in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying a 800-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 2nd Gokō Shirasagi [1] Squadron from Himeji Naval Air Group. He died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was from Nagasaki Prefecture, attended Tōkyō University of Commerce, and was a member of the 1st Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Seito).

He wrote the following final letter with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:

I advanced to OO [2] based on an urgent order. Hearing about tomorrow's sortie renewed my feelings. In order for me to come, Cadet OO was excluded from the attack members. It is much to be regretted. I have mixed feelings of sadness and joy. Humans die at some time. Choosing one's time to die is more than fate. With confidence in my ability, tomorrow with all my might I will dive into an enemy ship and carry out my important mission to protect the country. Finally the time has come to depart from my good friend Nakanishi. Those who meet must part, and there are no regrets.

Since the special attack unit was formed at the end of February, we have had intensive training. Finally we have a sortie opportunity. Regarding the sortie, we have received frequent instructions like, "do not be quick to die," but everything is fate.

I will charge toward the path that I believe in. You truly showed care to me in various ways for the long time of more than 20 years. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My 15 years of school life now will bear fruit. I deeply feel thankfulness to the Empire of Japan. With this feeling that I as a crewman truly believe will accompany me, I look forward to tomorrow's success. Since it was sudden, I was not able to write departure letters to all of the relatives, teachers, and good friends. Therefore, I ask when you have a chance that you please give my greetings in departure letters to these people.

Father, Mother,

Since there is not time, excuse me for writing messily. There is nothing to say, but, having been selected, until the very end in high spirits I will make a sortie. My unit's other aircraft already have departed. I am writing this on top of my plane's fuselage. As there are not regrets, there are also not things to rejoice about. I am calm and nothing has changed. I am determined to attack with a calm and relaxed feeling. I do not know how to express my thanks to you. As for your kindness higher than the mountains and deeper than the sea, I certainly believe that the attack will be able to serve as repayment.

I earnestly request that you handle the studies of Kōzō and Shigeo. It is certain that nothing remains if study is omitted in life. Please educate them so that they have as little time as possible when they are idle. My older sisters [3] have nothing to worry about. I can go feeling truly assured. Everything is from your support. I will be satisfied if through the attack it somewhat will repay my ancestors.

As normal
Unchanged
This feeling
Thinking of country
It is same

Farewell.


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letter and poem come from Kitagawa (1983, 139-41). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1983, 139) and Osuo (2005, 221).

Notes

1. The word Gokō means protecting the Empire. Shirasagi means white egret. Himeji Castle, which dates back to the 14th century, has the name of Shirasagi Castle.

2. OO indicates information that was a military secret and could not be included in the letter.

3. The number of older sisters is not specified in the letter. He may have had one or more older sisters.

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would be lost). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.