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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 [1] 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 room.

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 lose.

Tōkyō again has suffered damage. It is best that you go to Chichibu [2] 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 spirits.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
October 2018

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).

Notes

1. Japanese Navy airmen were often referred to as sea eagles.

2. Chichibu is a city northwest of Tōkyō in Saitama Prefecture.

Sources Cited

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.