Last Letters of Sergeant Major Haruo Ōhashi
On April 1, 1945, Sergeant Major Haruo Ōhashi
took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack
south of Kerama Rettō at the age of
26. He was a member of the 23rd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. He piloted an
Army Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied nickname of Sonia) . After his death in a special
attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He grew up in Gifu
Prefecture and was a non-commissioned officer who entered the Army in 1938.
Ōhashi wrote one final letter to his Father and a separate one to his
Mother on March 21, 1945. He expresses concern in both of them for his wife
Thank you for taking care of me for a long time. My memories will never
My 28 years , short or long, were just like
a ball of thread.
Today when the decisive battle for the mainland has arrived, one hundred
million persons all will attack, and everyone is a Special Attack Corps
I will go with this vanguard. Ah, I am delighted. Even so I fear that I
will die in vain.
Father, I really hate the American fiends. The outrages in Tōkyō, Nagoya,
and Ōsaka happened one after another . This
enemy surely, surely …
We and I likewise are determined to work worthily as members of this
Corps. Ayako also has become determined, but I ask that you take care of her
as a woman.
She always was telling me that she wanted to go one time together to
home, but this could not be realized. I also regret it, but I think Ayako
does so more than I.
I believe that all of my younger brothers and sisters will strive
together with one mind. Instead of you, it is regrettable that I cannot look
after my younger brothers and sisters.
I pray that in all seasons more and more you will be mindful of your
health and will fight for our country. In the current circumstances, I
imagine your pains in dealing with rationing.
On the day just when nirvana is reached, soon a cherry blossom also will
bloom and fall.
Please give my regards to all of our neighbors.
March 21, 1945
I trust that you are in good health as usual.
My 28 years were like a dream.
You hard work and patience on my behalf for these 28 years are engraved
on my heart.
Today also I will go bravely.
You together with Father have provided excellent care to Ayako. You have
made it peaceful and decent for her up to today. Also, I thank you deeply
and warmly for the gift of your strength, Father and Mother.
Mother, from now on, please look after Ayako still more. Also, not being
able to give her a formal wedding ceremony, she always told me that she
wanted to return home together with me one time, but that could not happen.
Since she is not yet close with the neighbors, I think that her being alone
suddenly will be a great hardship.
Mother, as a woman with a woman, please take good care of Ayako. Finally,
I pray for your health. I must be going now.
March 21, 1945
Ōhashi wrote the following letter to his three younger sisters:
Sanae, Shizue, and Yasue,
You three all are getting older.
Now I am going to carry out a useful act.
All of you, be well. When you three become adults, all of you be fine
Never look at outward appearances. Even though there is a limit to what
is underneath, there is not a limit to what is above. Even so, do not spare your individual efforts.
I am relying on you for young Kimie. Take the place of me for my younger
brothers. Since now I cannot possibly look after you all as an older
brother, please do not feel badly.
If you see my classmates, please give them my regards.
Pardon me for leaving now. I pray for your success.
He wrote the following letter to his three younger brothers:
Shirō, Toshi, and Yasuhiko,
Finally the day of the sortie has come.
I will die smiling for my country, for my family, and for my hometown.
Now it seems that the enemy is waiting eagerly around Okinawa. Believing
in final victory, I will fight bravely.
I pray for your success.
From your older brother
Letters translated by Bill Gordon
The letters and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Kōjo
Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 49-56), Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 97, 183), Hara (2004, 187), and Osuo (2005, 195).
1. Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 183)
indicates that Ōhashi piloted a Hayabusa Type 1 Fighter (Allied code name of
Oscar), but Hara (2004, 187) and Osuo (2005, 50-1, 195) state that he piloted a
Type 99 Assault Plane.
2. The traditional Japanese method of counting
age, as in much of East Asia, regards a child as age one at birth and adds an
additional year on each New Year's day thereafter. This most likely explains why
the letter indicates his age as 28 whereas the background information in Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005,
97) gives his age at death as 26.
3. American B-29 Superfortress Bombers carried out
massive nighttime fire bombing raids on Tōkyō during on March 9-10, on Nagoya on
March 11-2, and on Ōsaka on March 13-4.
Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (Chiran Girls' High School Nadeshiko
Association), ed. 1996. Gunjō: Chiran tokkō kichi yori
(Deep blue: From Chiran special attack forces air base). Originally
published in 1979. Kagoshima City:
Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack
Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu
kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special
Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima
Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.
Hara, Katsuhiro. 2004. Shinsō kamikaze tokkō: Hisshi
hitchū no 300 nichi (Kamikaze special attack facts: 300 days of certain-death, sure-hit
attacks). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.