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Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Genjirō Gakiya to His Parents

At 0650 on December 16, 1944, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Genjirō Gakiya took off from Mabalacat Air Base in the Philippines as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 250-kg bomb. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 11th Kongō Squadron. He died in a special (suicide) attack off San Jose, Mindoro Island, at the age of 19. He was from Ikei Island in Okinawa Prefecture and was a member of the 16th Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

On the way to the Philippines, after Gakiya circled two times in the skies over Ikei Island Elementary and Junior High School, he dropped the following final letter for his parents that he had written the day before. After arriving at Mabalacat Air Base, the 11th Kongō Squadron took off on a special attack mission three days later. Gakiya's father never believed that his son had died in battle up to his death in 1979 at the age of 83. He stored the letter and never showed it to his family or anyone else.

Dear Father and Mother,

Please live happily in high spirits.

I will go for the country.

I was not able to show filial piety to my parents, but please forgive me.

Please do not cry.

Please praise me.

Since I am a man of the sea, it is my long-cherished desire to die at sea.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
January 2019

The letter comes from Takahashi (2012, 39-40). The biographical information in the first two paragraphs comes from Osuo (2005, 169), Shōguchi (2016, 43), and Takahashi (2012, 27-41).

Sources Cited

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Shōguchi, Yasuhiro. 2016. Senchi kara no saiki no tegami: Nijūninin no wakaki kaigun shōhei no isho (Last letters from battlefield: Final letters of 22 young Navy officers and men). Tōkyō: Kairyūsha.

Takahashi, Miyuki. 2012. Sakura, nanatabi: Kanoya kaigun tokkō kichi —Wadatsumi no furusato— (Cherry blossoms, seven times: Kanoya naval special attack base —Hometown of the sea god—). Fukuoka: Azusa Shoin.