Last Letter of Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Setsuo Ishino to His Mother
On April 11, 1945, Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Setsuo Ishino took off from
Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a
special (suicide) attack south of Kikaijima at the age of 19. He was a member of the Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps
5th Kenmu Squadron. He was from Okayama Prefecture and was a member of the
1st Toku Otsu Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).
Based on research in the 2005 book
Senkan mizūri ni totsunyū shita reisen (Zero fighter that crashed into battleship
author Akira Kachi concludes
that the Zero pilot who hit battleship Missouri on April 11, 1945, was
either Flight Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenkichi Ishii or Flight Petty Officer 2nd
Class Setsuo Ishino.
Five days before Ishino's final sortie from Kanoya Air Base, he wrote the following final letter with a poem at the end:
At last the day has come when the final flower will bloom.
I will go smiling.
Please do not say anything since all is for the country.
The day when we meet next will be under the splendid flowers at Yasukuni
Shrine. Please say that I did well and smile without crying. I am praying for
everyone's good health forever and ever.
Prepared before today
Bow of azusa (catalpa) wood 
Straight into enemy aircraft carrier 
Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
The letter and poem come from an exhibit at Kanoya Air Base Museum. The
biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Osuo (2005, 195).
Bows made of azusa wood have been highly regarded in Japan since ancient times.
2. This web page has a direct translation of the
Japanese poem. Following is a free translation of the same poem in Hagoromo
Society (1973, 158):
Today's mission is something I have long awaited.
All that's left for me now
is to crash straight on
Into some enemy aircraft carrier.
Hagoromo Society of Kamikaze Divine Thunderbolt Corps
Survivors. 1973. The Cherry Blossom Squadrons: Born to Die. Edited
and supplemented by Andrew Adams. Translated by Nobuo Asahi and the Japan
Tech Co. Los Angeles: Ohara Publications.
Kachi, Akira. 2005.
Senkan mizūri ni totsunyū shita
reisen (Zero fighter that crashed into battleship Missouri).
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.