Deep Blue: From Chiran
Special Attack Air Base (1996)
Last Letter of Corporal Susumu Sasaki to His Parents
On June 3, 1945, Corporal Susumu Sasaki took off from Chiran Air Base
and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 19. He was
a member of the 214th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and piloted an Army Type 97
Fighter (Allied nickname of Nate). After his death in a special attack, he
received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Shimane Prefecture and was a
member of the 14th Class of the Yonago Pilot Training School.
He wrote the following final letter to his parents with a death poem at the
I trust that everyone in the family is in high spirits. The south of
Kyūshū is blazing with new green leaves, and it is indescribable scenery.
Today I will make a sortie in high spirits. I certainly will hold my own.
Please rest assured. When I think about it, the period of twenty years 
after having been born into this world seems long but was a short number of
years. Up to today I have not given you relief. Please forgive me. As for
full details, please hear them in a letter from my maintenance worker.
You must be busy with rice planting.
Father and Mother, take sufficient care of yourselves. I pray for your
health. I will crash dive at 1300 on June 2. Farewell.
Inescapably in this fleeting world I even can kill
Any number of enemy men
Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poem come from Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (1996, 115-6). The
biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko
Kai (1996, 115), Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 198), and Osuo (2005,
1. 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 explains why the letter
indicates his age as 20 whereas the current way of counting age indicates that
his age was 19 (Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai 2005, 198) at time of death.
Chiran Kōjo Nadeshiko Kai (Chiran Girls' High School Nadeshiko
Association), ed. 1996. Gunjō: Chiran tokkō kichi yori
(Deep blue: From Chiran special attack air base). Originally
published in 1979. Kagoshima City: Takishobō.
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.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen)
(Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.