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Last Letter of Corporal Heikichi Sasaki to His Family

On June 7, 1945, Corporal Heikichi Sasaki took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 63rd Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 21. 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 was from Shizuoka Prefecture and was a member of the 13th Class of the Sendai Pilot Training School.

He wrote the following final letter to his family:

Dear Father, Mother, Kimiko, and Tomotada,

At 21 years old, it is an honor during the country's crisis to volunteer and fall as a flower for the Empire's defense. It has been difficult to not have done anything in return for your concern and compassion, whether in rain or wind, that you showed to me for 21 years. I have caused troubles for you and had a lack of filial piety. Please consider now my only filial piety as living for an eternal cause for the Empire during my life.

My one-week stay with you last month was my departure from this world. Please guess what was in my heart that I could not disclose specifically to you. Happily I was reassured when I saw the health and energy of you, my Parents, and my beloved younger sister and brother. Even though my spirit is for defense of the country, my spirit is as usual with you, my Parents, and is praying sincerely for your good health and long life.

Moreover, please take care of my beloved younger sister and brother. I pray for prosperity and tranquility for our family.

Parents and Younger Sister and Brother, stay in good health and live long.

Army Special Attack Corps Shinshū [1] Unit Member
Army Corporal Heikichi Sasaki

Written on May 14, 1945

I sent enclosed photos of me to home. Please give one photo to each of the listed families in Haranomachi. By all means please contact each of the families listed so they can remember me by the photo and so you can give them thanks. I ask that you write a short letter instead of me to thank them for their kindness shown to me during my lifetime.

- Grandparents in Tokushima and Setagaya
- Gorō-sensei of Sogano Family, and Asakura Family
- Katsunori Kameda-sensei at 1-43 Narimune Suginami-ku
- Yasuji Sawahata-sensei
- My friends Kiyoda and Koyano
- Yō Matsushima at 288 Hira-machi, Sasebo City
- Matsunaga Milk Shop in Sōma Haranomachi
- Setoya Furuyama in Sōma Haranomachi
- Kaga and others in Sōma Haranomachi

I received great care and unsurpassed kindness from everyone.

- Hiroki Kobayashi in Sōma Haranomachi
- Kantarō Yamamoto in Sōma Haranomachi
Same address but separate
- Everyone who made contributions
- Regards to Matsumoto Family
- No money loans
- No relation with woman


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter and biographical information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 176-7) and Osuo (2005, 200).

Note

1. Shinshū refers to Japan and literally means "divine land."

Sources Cited

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 Shuppan.

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