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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
(1983 cover)
(originally published as
Ah, Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps
in 1970)

Last Letter of Maintenance Petty Officer 2nd Class Toyohiko Katō to His Older Brother

At 1130 on April 14, 1945, Maintenance Petty Officer 2nd Class Toyohiko Katō took off from Kanoya Air Base as a crew member in a Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Betty) carrying an ōka rocket-powered glider bomb. He was a member of the 4th Kamikaze Ōka Special Attack Squadron of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Unit). He died in a special (suicide) attack east of Tokunoshima at the age of 19. He was from Tōkyō Prefecture, a member of the 96th Class of the Navy's General Maintenance Training Program, and after completion of training a member of the 708th Attack Hikōtai.

He wrote the following final letter:

Dear Older Brother,

I am carrying out my duties as a military man in high spirits. For the country, one hundred million Japanese people, and Greater East Asia, I will fall as a flower in battle when I make a taiatari (body-crashing) attack on an enemy aircraft carrier together with my Type 1 Attack Bomber. As for the situation, finally the time has come when we will rise up. The time that had to come has come.

A person dies once, and I am happy to get a place to die. It is said that a lifetime is 50 years, but I have been given more constant and true happiness than expected for 19 years until today without any inconveniences. You taught me so I got to this position. Now I convey my warm thanks with my deepest emotions to our parents and you in our hometown.

As for this kindness that I should repay entirely, there is only today's service. Our next meeting will be at Yasukuni Shrine. Now there are no lingering attachments, but there is only Hisako, our only younger sister. Please take good care of Hisako. After losing Father at an early age and because Mother passed away, I think that living by herself is lonely for her. I ask that you please raise her to be a fine Japanese woman.

Also, by all means please shape your children to be fine persons in the future by nurturing in them a tokkō (special attack) spirit following my heart. Give my regards to our relatives. Give my regards to Heizaburō. I pray for everybody's eternal happiness. Farewell.

April 1945
Navy Jinrai Butai
Toyohiko Katō

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1970, 163-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1970, 163-4) and Osuo (2005, 189).

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1970. Ā kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Ah, Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of youth that would not return). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

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