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Last Letter of Second Lieutenant Kiyomi Kawada to His Parents

On April 29, 1945, Second Lieutenant Kiyomi Kawada took off from Chiran Air Base as a member of the 24th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He piloted an Army Type 2 Toryū Fighter (Ki-45, Allied code name of Nick). After his death in a special attack, he received a two-rank promotion to Captain. He was from Kagawa Prefecture, attended Ritsumeikan University in Kyōto, and become a member of the 1st Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan) Program.

He wrote the following final letter:

To Father,

For the Emperor
To fall a blooming
Young cherry blossom
For country's glory
To become cornerstone

To Mother,

Now once
Kind words
Waiting to go
A cherry blossom to bloom
In garden at Yasukuni [1]

April 28, 1945

At last this evening is the sortie. I will gain honor when I make an attack on the Emperor's birthday [2] (about 2 o'clock).

The Emperor's birthday is my birthday. Ah, it is an honor.

Letter and poems translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter, poems, and biographical information on this page come from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 121, 205) and Osuo (2005, 196).


1. Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō is the place of enshrinement for spirits of Japan's war dead.

2. Emperor Hirohito's birthday was on April 29.

Sources Cited

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.