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Iwao Nakano

Last Letter from Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Iwao Nakano to Parents

Flight Petty Officer 1st Class Iwao Nakano died in a special (suicide) attack on October 25, 1944, as a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Shikishima Squadron. Lieutenant Yukio Seki led the five bomb-laden Zero fighters that took off from Mabalacat Airfield in the Philippines, and Seki is credited officially with carrying out the first organized Kamikaze Corps attack.

The first Kamikaze Unit, which included 23 Zero fighter pilots and Yukio Seki as the commander, was formed in the early morning of October 20, 1944. The Shikishima Squadron made its first sortie on October 21, but the five pilots returned to base when no enemy ships could be located. The same thing happened for three more days, until on October 25 enemy ships were located.

According to Kamikaze Tokkō Shikishima-tai (1975, 33), the following was the last letter that his parents received from their son Iwao, but the letter has no date. On the day before it was decided to make an attack, a fellow pilot encouraged Iwao while he was swimming to leave something behind in writing. Iwao initially laughed and made no reply, but after repeated encouragement from his friend, he stopped swimming and diligently wrote this letter to his parents.

Father, Mother,

As the Emperor's child and as your child, I go to die honorably. I go joyfully. Please take good care of yourselves. Goodbye.

From Iwao

Iwao Nakano has at least two other letters to his family that have been published (Kamikaze Tokkō Shikishima-tai 1975, 32-3; Kanoya Kōkū Kichi 2003, 83), but these were written long before he volunteered for the Kamikaze Corps, and neither one has a date. One of these letters is translated below (Kanoya Kōkū Kichi 2003, 83):

Dear Father,

There is no excuse for my not writing for such a long time.

After Misawa, there has been more and more. I have been doing well, so please have peace of mind. Finally from now there is real training. I am determined to do my very best.

The people in Haramachi probably already have had a snowfall. Please take care of yourself in the cold weather. Please say hello also to Maki-chan. I will write again.

Best regards,

One can guess that the letter was written sometime late in 1943, since he started his training at Misawa Air Base in June 1943 and finished sometime in 1943. Haramachi Town, his hometown located in Fukushima Prefecture, probably would have its first snow in November or December.

Iwao was born on New Year's Day of 1925 as the last child of ten of Shōtarō and Hideyo Nakano. He entered the 10th Kō Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) at Tsuchiura Air Group in Ibaraki Prefecture in April 1942. He died in battle at the age of 19, and he received a special two-rank promotion to Ensign since his death was by special attack.

In 1980, a monument to commemorate Iwao Nakano was erected in his hometown of Haramachi. In 1981, the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Shikishima Squadron Five War Heroes Monument was erected in Yukio Seki's hometown of Saijō City in Ehime Prefecture.

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
September 2017

The information on this web page comes from Kamikaze Tokkō Shikishima-tai (1975, 15-6, 30-3) and Kanoya Kōkū Kichi (2003, 83).

Sources Cited

Kamikaze Tokkō Shikishima-tai Go Gunshin Hōsankai (Kamikaze Special Attack Shikishima Squadron Five War Heroes Support Association). 1975. Shikishima-tai go gunshin no shirube (Guide to Shikishima Squadron five war heroes). Privately published by Naramoto Jinja.

Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai (Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum Coordinating Committee). 2003. Kokoro no sakebi (Cries of the heart). Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture: Kanoya Kōkū Kichi Shiryōkan Renraku Kyōgikai.