Last Letter of Corporal Teruo Usami to His Mother
On July 1, 1945, Corporal Teruo Usami took off from Miyakonojō East Airfield
as a member of the 180th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special
(suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army Hayate
Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Nick). After his death in a special attack,
he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Fukushima Prefecture
and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi)
He wrote the following final letter to his mother. The letter's end has a
Finally, this is the end.
Since a young age I have caused only troubles for you, but a sense of
satisfaction runs through me to be a man who now has received such a sortie
The time finally has come to serve as a fighter pilot. I certainly will
do my best to achieve honor for the family as I also have written before.
Kind Mother, the best in Japan, if I could tell fortunes today with
playing cards, yours would be the best. You will be able to spend your
happiest days in the future. Father also will have long days. It seems he
will be able to return home and live together with you. My fortune says that
I certainly will live to be more than 35 years old, but I will go as a
foundation of peace for the Empire thanks to the Emperor. I do not want to
carry out a sinking with the photographs of you and Father, so now I am
enclosing them here to return to you.
All of the photographs of my activities and flying that you tenderly look
at each day must truly make you feel lonely today when you think of my
departure. Even with the photographs and departure, I will be strong to
defend Japan with an unflinching spirit. Seeming short, it was a long 19
years . Forgetting all the good and bad, I only strive to find a ship and
surely sink it.
The announcement will probably be at the time of the Bon Festival .
This year's Bon Festival will be my first one. When I gaze at the mountains,
I am reminded of the scenery in Fukushima.
Best mother in Japan, please always be healthy. I am not writing anything
in particular to Father, since I am thinking that he cannot be contacted in
Mongolia. I will go in high spirits.
Even though my wings are broken and control stick smashed to pieces
I will not stop pursuing an enemy aircraft carrier
A cherry blossom falling in a splendid dive at Okinawa
Aircraft carrier with me to the other world
Blizzard of cherry blossoms leaving to fall in special attack
Not expecting to return alive from first battle
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 151, 161) and Osuo (2005, 206).
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 may explain why the
letter indicates his age as 19 whereas the background information in Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005,
151) indicates his age as 18.
2. The Bon Festival is an annual Buddhist event
celebrated in mid-August to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. During the Bon
Festival, it is believed that the spirits return to visit their living
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.