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Another "Eternal Zero":
Tsukuba Naval Air Group

Last Letters of Ensign Kunihiro Moroi to His Parents

At 0657 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Kunihiro Moroi took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Tsukuba Squadron. After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Lieutenant. He was from Nara Prefecture, attended Kokugakuin University in Tōkyō to study history, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote at Kanoya Air Base the following last letter to his parents on May 1, 1945. The letter includes five poems in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7).

Dear Father and Mother,

Now there is nothing to write, and today we could not depart again. Thinking of mountains and rivers of my faraway hometown, at the battle front I am writing freely under the light of a candle in a truly dilapidated structure that can be called a lodging in name only. When we make a sortie one time, it will only be a taiatari (body-crashing) attack. Reminiscences of my life of 23 years are simply dreams. As for the 23 years that I have lived for today, after a few days I will return to my fondly-remembered home. My state of mind is like water, and I only will do my best and leave the rest to destiny. In a few days during my mission, I will fly above Fukuroi and Nara. I will fly in the skies of my hometown. I am truly happy to be able to give a moment's farewell while praying sincerely for everyone's good health.

Even though flying shadow on blue surface falls
Nobody will know of glorious mission

Life that can live for today
Will fall and be broken on enemy carrier

I will go for life of Emperor
In sea of faraway Okinawan skies

Time comes for cherry blossom to fall in spring wind
Always blooming as flower for country

In the blue my heart speaks
I reflected on my plane am smiling

We absolutely will protect the Empire forever. Those in graves will cry out together with one hundred million citizens who shout banzai (hurray) for the final victory.

My Parents, I will die before you and will be waiting for when you can come. The greenery of the trees has been washed by the May rain , and I know the leaves will fall when autumn comes.

Father and Mother, I give my farewell to you while very sincerely praying that you will live long lives in good health.

I request you to leave future matters to Matsuko and Yoshirō. Please give my regards to Older Sister Nakagawa. Mother, I hope that you will be a strong mother of a sea eagle [1].

It may be sentimental, but farewell forever.


He wrote the following final letter to his parents on May 6, 1945 [2]:

It already has been a few days since I came here to the largest southern air base. Curiously I have been able to live a long life, and I am still here.

Today the sortie that I thought that I would make did not happen, but tomorrow is not known. When I make a sortie one time, we five young cherry blossoms will make taiatari (body-crashing) attacks and will fall together with bombs in our country's manner. I truly am fortunate that the plane that I will be able to go in is a cutting-edge combat fighter.

Only God knows my current mental state.

Every day I dream of the family. Before long my spirit most likely will return home.

Even being an average person, I will only do it excellently. Please rest assured since it will measure up to your expectations. Shortly when there is news of the sinking of an enemy aircraft carrier, please know that I went to Yasukuni Shrine [3]. In one stroke I will repay your kindness for 23 years. For my country and for my family, I go to battle praying to act with all my might. Someone composed such a poem:

Though our five bodies will break together with enemy ships
In my mother's dreams I will return from time to time

When I fly my plane, I forget just about everything. It's good.

I leave praying for the Empire's prosperity and your good health.

Postscript - I think that my bags will be sent by men at Tsukuba. They are a wicker suitcase and an overnight bag. I think that soon my photos will be sent by someone. Farewell.

Decisive action, 23 years old, Kunihiro

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
First letter - August 2019, second letter - June 2018

The first letter comes from Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (1995, 115-7), and the second letter comes from Katabami (2014, 92). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Katabami (2014, 92) and Osuo (2005, 198).


1. Sea eagle refers to a Navy aviator.

2. Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai 1995, 117.

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

Sources Cited

Kaigun Hikō Yobi Gakusei Dai 14 Ki Kai (Navy Flight Reserve Students 14th Class Association), ed. 1995. Zoku Ā dōki no sakura: Wakaki senbotsu gakusei no shuki (Continuation Ah, cherry blossoms of same class: Writings of young students who died in war). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Katabami, Masaaki. 2014. Mō hitotsu no "Eien no Zero": Tsukuba Kaigun Kōkūtai (Another "Eternal Zero": Tsukuba Naval Air Group). Tōkyō: Village Books.

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