Ah, Cherry Blossoms
of Same Class (1966)
Final Letter of Ensign Yoshimune Suga to His Parents and Younger Sister
At 1535 on April 28, 1945, Ensign Yoshimune Suga took off
from Kushira Air Base as pilot in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code
name of Kate) carrying an 800-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off
Okinawa at the age of 24. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps
1st Seiki Squadron from Hyakurihara Air Group.
He was from Kyōtō Prefecture, attended Rikkyō University in Kyōtō to study
economics, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve
Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).
He sent the following letter from Hyakurihara Air Base in April 1945:
Dear Parents and Yaeko,
There is no way at all for me to show my appreciation for your unexpected
visit to my unit. You probably were tired with the round trip by automobile.
I think that it is good that Father, who recently suffered an illness, did
not suffer a relapse. How are you doing? Even though it was a short time, it
truly was nice to see the place where we grew up.
It was wonderful that you were able to see the high-spirited scene at the
sea eagle  base, but you were not able to do
this for the current situation. However, we will live together in this room
until the end, and we are waiting in high spirits for the day when we will
depart. Soon the day will come when you will fondly recall this cramped
Yesterday and today the cherry trees of our unit have been in full bloom.
I have never seen a cherry tree as beautiful as these cherry trees. Surely
it is most likely because of the heart of the person who is seeing them.
Surrounded by these pretty cherry trees, I am overflowing with small
sentiments about you who departed from our unit. I absolutely can
declare that it is not loneliness or sad homesickness. I, who was blessed
with parents and grew up filled with happiness in a warm family, truly feel
keenly that my life was fortunate from my school days and as I advanced
along life's path in high spirits with my dear plane. Having grown up with
abundance and uprightness is now my greatest strong point. I appreciate you.
There were probably also many weak points when I was growing up as a child,
but fundamentally in whatever situation I found myself, you certainly
accepted it kindly and interpreted it favorably. As a trump card to defend
Japan on this occasion when I go to battle, as a Japanese person and also as
your son, being able to make a sortie with more pride and more joy than
anyone, I am smiling that it will be my greatest victory.
From now until I see the enemy before my eyes, obtaining a more elevated
state of mind is my current great work. For all that, I have self-confidence
that it certainly will be carried out.
From my school days, I also had a great deal of self-confidence in
everything, and this was a piece of good luck. This also probably is the
character that I received from you who have a tendency to certainly not
Tōkyō again has suffered damage. It is best that you go to Chichibu 
as quickly as possible. Even though I have written some serious things,
please by no means be surprised by saying things like, "It is the last letter."
Perhaps suddenly you will again go through Nagasaki Gate. During that time,
I am praying to heaven that you absolutely do not go out on any excursions
to Chichibu and other places.
It has become quite warm. Life also truly is comfortable. In contrast
with spring in this present world, spring at the air group again is calm.
When the cherry blossoms fall, I will write again. Please be in high
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai
(1966, 148-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai
(1966, 148) and Osuo (2005, 218).
1. Japanese Navy airmen were often referred to as
2. Chichibu is a city northwest of Tōkyō in
Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight
Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1966. Ā dōki no sakura:
Kaerazaru seishun no shuki (Ah, cherry blossoms of same class: Writings
of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.