Last Letter of Lieutenant Junior Grade Shunsuke Tomiyasu to His Family
At 0530 on May 14, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Shunsuke Tomiyasu
took off from Kanoya Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack. He was Squadron
Leader of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 6th Tsukuba Squadron, which
consisted of 14 Zero fighters each carrying a 500-kg bomb. He evaded heavy
antiaircraft fire and crashed into the forward elevator of the aircraft carrier
Enterprise (CV-6). The damage caused by his plane and its bomb put Enterprise out
for the rest of the
war. The kamikaze special attack killed
13 and wounded 68.
The family of Shunsuke Tomiyasu, born in 1922 in Nagasaki Prefecture, moved to Tōkyō when he was six years old. Tomiyasu graduated with a degree in political science and
economics from Waseda University in Tōkyō, and he started work at the South Manchurian
Railroad Company. In September 1943, he entered the Navy in the 13th Class of
Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei). He started training at Tsuchiura Naval Air Group
and later transferred to Matsuyama Air Group and Okazaki Air Group. In March 1945, he was assigned to the Tsukuba Naval Air Group
in Ibaraki Prefecture. On April 22, 1945, Tomiyasu went with his Kamikaze Corps
squadron to Kanoya Air Base in
southern Kyushu to wait for the sortie date.
Tomiyasu wrote the following final letter to his family:
Dear Father, Mother, and Sister,
I was suddenly ordered to make a sortie to a certain area, and I must depart
now. Since from the beginning I gave my life for our country, I do not
expect to return alive. I surely am determined to achieve excellent battle
Today the fate and existence of our country are at hand. We leave as
defenders of our country. You may miss me when I am not here, but please
live with great enthusiasm and cheerfulness. Worries will cause everyone to
When I entered the Navy, I naturally was prepared for death, so I think
everyone also should not feel lonely. I plan to send a letter to Hideo, but
please give him greetings also from our home.
Since Lieutenant Junior Grade Kondō plans to go visit you, please meet
with him. I will do my very best, so please rest assured about that.
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The photo of Shunsuke Tomiyasu, his last letter, and information about his
life come from the Kasama Museum of History and Folklore (Kasama City, Ibaraki
Prefecture), which has an exhibit room dedicated to the history of the Tsukuba
Naval Air Group. Some information on the page comes from Katabami (2014, 123)
and Stafford (1962, 496-9). The original of Tomiyasu's last letter is held by
the Etajima Museum of Naval History.
Katabami, Masaaki. 2014. Mō hitotsu no "Eien no Zero":
Tsukuba Kaigun Kōkūtai (Another "Eternal Zero": Tsukuba
Naval Air Group). Tōkyō: Village Books.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Stafford, Edward P. 1962. The Big E: The Story of the USS
Enterprise. New York: Dell.