Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Hiroshi Ōshima to His Parents
On May 25, 1945, Second Lieutenant Hiroshi Ōshima took off from Bansei Air
Base as a member of the 433rd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a
special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 23. He piloted a Type 2
Advanced Trainer. After his death in a special attack, he received a two-rank promotion to
Captain. He was from Tochigi Prefecture and
was a member of the 2nd Class of the Army Special Cadet Pilot Training Program.
He wrote the following final letter with three poems at the end:
Suddenly, now I will fall. As the cherry blossoms fall at Kudan ,
I trust that all of you will not be surprised and will not weep. It is
surprising that a soldier who carries out his duty in the skies to live as
long as 23 years.
You truly cared very well for my younger brother. I do not know what to
say to you to express my thanks and how to best repay you. With the
expectation of one plane to sink one ship, I will take off with the firm
belief of hitting the target. Since our work is for men who really value
honor, I (who am about to live as a spirit) believe that this will meet your
expectations as parents and siblings.
When there is news of my hitting an enemy ship, I will be able to sleep
in satisfaction if you offer a single stick of incense. If there is not news
of my hit due to inexperience, then I think that I will have been downed by
Grumman fighters before reaching my objective. The reason is that in the end
I will be flying in the midst of 15 fighters.
At 23 years I am departing from this world, but more specifically this is
progress to the next eternal existence as a stage in human life. Therefore,
even though I die, I will return to live as an eternal spirit and will not
stop beating in everyone's inmost heart.
Not knowing what I want to write and what I want to say, only if I could
meet you one time. Ah, what to say? However, my life, seeming to be
straightforward, had complexity and happiness.
Do not be disappointed that now I do not have anything to leave behind as
a memento. Yōko, Fukuko, do not give into sickness, obey Father and Mother,
I will stop writing here with prayers for the complete recovery of health
of Older Brother and perpetuity for the Yamashita Family. Please pay close
attention to your health.
My spirit today serving
Glad to defend the gods and shatter as a jewel
A poem for Older Brother and Sister,
Already advancing forward to attack
Defending the Empire forever
Following my parents' teachings
I go now to the sea at Okinawa
Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
The letter, poems, and biographical information on this page come from Naemura (1993,
170-1) and Osuo (2005, 207).
1. Kudan is a hill in Tokyo where Yasukuni Jinja
(Shrine) is located. Yasukuni Jinja is Japan's national shrine to honor spirits
of soldiers killed in battle.
Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last
letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.