Last Letters of Corporal Hitoshi Hamada to His Parents
On June 22, 1945, Corporal Hitoshi Hamada took
off from Miyakonojō East Airfield as a member of the 179th Shinbu Special Attack
Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 19. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After
his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He
was from Matsusaka City in Mie Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth
Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.
He wrote the following final letter to his parents:
It has become the season of early summer with deep green. From the
faraway land of Kantō, I suppose that Grandfather first and everybody else
are in good health and are striving to increase production on the home
Recently my long-cherished desire has been realized successfully. It has
come about that as a member of the Shinbu Special Attack Corps I will make a
sortie for the Emperor to the decisive battleground at Okinawa near the
mainland to hit an aircraft carrier of the American and British fiends. I
will attack riding in my Hayate fighter and fall together with an enemy
aircraft carrier. As a young man in this world, I am glad with this
long-cherished ambition. Grandfather first and Father and Mother, thank you
for many things. I was totally self-centered. I regret that I lived until
now without repaying your kindness in any way. However, when I splendidly
sink a ship, I will be happy if you forgive this lack of filial piety.
Also, to Fumio, Kayo, and Taeko, I think that I was without honor by
doing nothing as an older brother. However, I think that my younger brother
and sisters certainly will be glad when I fall for the Emperor.
I regret going without sending letters to my teachers and seniors who
showed kindness to me until now and without repaying any of their kindness,
but I apologize from the bottom of my heart.
Now at the time of my departure I have nothing to say, but I apologize
for the misfortune and my impoliteness. I pray for the health of everyone.
I go gladly thinking that being able to go now for the Emperor is the
He later wrote another final letter with a death poem in tanka form
(31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7) at the end:
Dear Parents ,
Fortunately before my sortie I will write a note to you.
I thought that the letter that I wrote at Narimasu Airfield 
would be the final one, but I think that I am fortunate to be able to write
Thinking about times past, it has been more than three years since I
requested you forcibly to become a pilot. After leaving the 10th Rensei
(Training) Hikōtai, I transferred to Shimodate and Narimasu. When I
transferred from Narimasu to Hōfu Airfield in Yamaguchi Prefecture, I saw
Akeno to my right and passed right over our house. At this time while lost
in thought when I saw the school where I learned when young and that road, I
waved my wings up and down mightily above our house. When I departed, I
dropped a bunch of flowers and went. The time was exactly 1500 hours on the
I was able to do a great deal also at Matsusaka Factory.
After transferring to Hōfu, I have idled away the time here for about a
week. It was scheduled for us to move to Miyakonojō on the 12th and to make
a sortie on the 13th, but it seems that I have lived a long life because of
I have also many memories, and I cannot stop them. Since my personal
articles are at Hōfu Airfield, please go to get them. When you get off at
Mitajiri Station, the Shinbu Barracks are there. Father, my remaining
cigarettes are there, so please smoke them.
In addition, there is a handkerchief inside that was sent to me by
Sawada-sama who lives near Narimasu Airfield. To make sure I will tell you
her address. It is Mitsuko Sawada at Doshida-chō, Itabashi Ward, Tōkyō
Prefecture. She also came to see me off at my departure.
I was thinking of writing one time to the relatives, but since time did
not permit, I ask that you please give them my regards from our family. I
wanted to say many things, but I repay your kindness until now with an enemy
ship. Everyone, take care.
There is nothing that surpasses this as the long-cherished desire of a
young man. Smiling with gladness, I go to die. Next time I will see you at
Even though my wings fall and my control stick is broken
My pursuit will not stop to Okinawan Sea
Letters and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letters and poem come from Terai (1977, 115-7). The biographical information in
the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō
Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 150, 189) and Osuo (2005, 206).
1. Yasukuni (1995, 121-2) indicates that this
letter was addressed to Hamada's parents, although Terai (1977, 116-7) does not
show any addressee for this letter.
2. Narimasu was an Army airfield located in Nerima
Ward in Tōkyō Prefecture.
3. Yasukuni Jinja (Shrine) in Tōkyō is the place
of enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.
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.
Terai, Shun'ichi, ed. 1977. Kōkū Kichi Miyakonojō Hayate
Tokkō Shinbutai (Miyakonojō Air Base Hayate Special Attack Shinbu
Unit). Tōkyō: Genshobō.
Yasukuni Jinja, ed. 1995. Eirei
no koto no ha (1) (Words of the spirits of war heroes, Volume 1).
Tōkyō: Yasukuni Jinja Shamusho.