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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 Missouri), the 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:

Dear Mother,

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.

Take care.

Prepared before today
Bow of azusa (catalpa) wood [1]
Straight into enemy aircraft carrier [2]

April 6


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
March 2020

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).


1. 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.

Sources Cited

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). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

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