Last Letter of Corporal Tsugio Watanabe to His Parents
On April 16, 1945, Corporal Tsugio Watanabe
took off from Chiran Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of
Okinawa at the age of
19. He was a member of the 108th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron. He piloted an
Army Type 97 Fighter (Allied code name of Nate). After his death in a special
attack, he received a promotion to Second Lieutenant. He grew up in
Hokkaidō Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class
of the Sendai Pilot Training School.
Watanabe wrote the following final letter to his parents. The end of the
letter has a tanka poem (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7
Recently I was selected as a member of the honorable Special Attack
Corps. Please be glad. I hoped for this for a long time. There is no
long-cherished desire of a young man that surpasses this. I bravely will
make a sortie with honor for our family.
I truly thank you for taking care of me for the long period of twenty
Thanks to you, I also have become a person who can die gladly on behalf
of the Emperor.
Older Brother, Yoshiko, and Terumasa, please take care.
Please give my regards to Aunt Rei, our relatives, and all of my cousins.
I pray that you will have very long lives.
When going to the skies
A corpse coloring the clouds
Aimed at enemy ship
Will go forward earnestly
Letter translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō
Kai (2005, 114, 153) and Osuo (2005, 204).
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.