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2nd Lt. Katsuo Katsumata

"I'll Give You My Years"

The following story is on display at Hotaru Museum in Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture. Tome in the story refers to Tome Torihama, who ran Tomiya Restaurant in Chiran during WWII.

Second Lieutenant Katsumata would say: "I am Katsuo Katsumata. There must be nothing better than such a good name as Katsu Katsu ("win, win" in English). It's certain that Japan will win since Katsuo Katsumata, who has this promising name, will make a sortie."

He received his training at Chiran Air Base, and he was a pilot who trained in Chiran. At the town's sports day, he won the game of kibasen (a mock cavalry battle). He was well-known to the townspeople, and he was friends with Tome's daughters at Tomiya Restaurant.

A year after graduation from training at Chiran, Second Lieutenant Katsumata appeared unexpectedly. "Tome, this time will be short. I leave soon. Because of a special (suicide) attack." He was always cheerful. "Do not cry, Tome. If you cry too much, you'll go bald. So your baldness won't be seen, please stop. Ha, ha, ha."

Katsumata wrote a final letter to a close friend. "Last night I said goodbye to my father, mother, and older brother. They even saw my energetic, enthusiastic flying." In another part he wrote, "I drank up my favorite sake."

Second Lieutenant Katsumata said these last words to Tome: "Tome, please live a long and healthy life. They say that a person's life is 50 years, but I who am 20 years old will not even reach half of that since I am going to the next world. So I'll give you my remaining 30 years. Please live long for that time." He left waving his hand and said, "Well, goodbye." Tome never forgot that image of Katsumata's departure.

Tome in her later years said with great appreciation, "I was able to live so long since I received my years from everyone else."

Sortie Date: May 4, 1945
78th Shinbu Squadron
22 years old

Translated by Bill Gordon