Only search Kamikaze Images

Continuation • Ah, Cherry
Blossoms of Same Class

Last Letter of Ensign Shigeru Masaki to His Parents

At 1523 on April 28, 1945, Ensign Shigeru Masaki took off from Kokubu No. 2 Air Base as pilot in a Type 99 Carrier Dive Bomber (Allied code name of Val) carrying a 250-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Kusanagi Squadron from Nagoya Naval Air Group. He was from Ehime Prefecture, attended Meiji University in Tōkyō to study economics, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter at Kokubu No. 2 Air Base:

Dear Father and Mother,

On OO [1], we were sent off by everyone at Nagoya Air Group, and we started off in our aircraft. At 1300, all of the aircraft arrived safely at OO Air Base in Kyūshū. Truly full of energy, I admire the volcano at OO [2] that is nearby. On the day of OO I was on standby as I took a nap at the corner of the airfield with a light southern breeze. Being born was the beginning, and the sortie will be the end, and finally today it was decided. I will not return alive, and there only will be a sure-hit taiatari (body-crashing) attack. Since there will not be an aircraft to confirm battle results, the details probably will not be known. However, if you receive official notification of my death in battle, please think that I certainly sunk instantly an enemy ship in a splendid attack.

After coming here, letters from Etsujirō Tsuyuguchi and Older Sister Yasuko arrived after they were forwarded from Nagoya, but I apologize that I have not been able to reply, so please communicate my regards to them. With regards to the oshibana (pressed flowers) made from the cherry blossoms at Zenpukuji-chō that I received from Older Sister, I will place it inside my flight helmet when I board my aircraft. I will wrap around my stomach the senninbari (thousand-stitch belt) received from everyone, and I will wear the thousand-stitch hachimaki (headband) that says "isshoku gōchin" (instant sinking in single blow) received from Principal Shimomuro. Throwing all into my task, I will carry out the best taiatari attack.

While there are only a few hours until I go and fall, not having such a feeling, it now seems like I will go on a pleasant trip through the skies. I am waiting for the time of the assembly while sharing jokes with my comrades. Among my subordinates, there is one person who was a Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) trainee in the Air Group at Uwajima [3]. In particular, he told me that there was lodging at the home of Genzō Makimoto for up to two people. We exchanged stories about our fond memories of Uwajima.

Soon I am going to look at the maintenance condition of my aircraft. I have no regrets. Since there is nothing more for me to write, now I will part from you. Please give a message to Noriaki [4] that he serve so as to not lose to me. I am praying that you will be in good health for many years. Please give my very warmest regards to everyone.

Kusanagi Special Attack Squadron Member
Shigeru Masaki

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei (1995, 103-5). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei (1995, 103) and Osuo (2005, 226).


1. The OO indicates that the information could not be provided in correspondence to civilians, since it was considered a military secret.

2. Sakurajima Volcano is visible from Kokubu.

3. Uwajima is a city in Masaki's home prefecture of Ehime.

4. The given name of 猷章 is rare with pronunciations of either Noriaki or Michiaki. The correct pronunciation of this name in the letter could not be determined, so Noriaki was selected arbitrarily.

Sources Cited

Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1995. Zoku Ā dōki no sakura (Continuation Ah, cherry blossoms of same class). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

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