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Last Letters of Sergeant Tetsuo Noguchi to His Father

On April 13, 1945, Sergeant Tetsuo Noguchi took off from Bansei Air Base as a member of the 74th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 20. He piloted a Type 99 Assault Plane (Allied code name of Sonia). After his death in a special attack, he received a three-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. Noguchi was from Aichi Prefecture. In September 1942, he graduated in the 10th Class of the Sendai Pilot Training School.

He wrote the following three final letters to his father:

At place where volunteered for Special Attack Corps

At the time of the decisive battle, I offer myself to the Imperial Air Force, and I will not spare my life in any way.

Serving the country with seven lives, I live for an eternal cause. With this grand spirit, I offer myself in a way that will lead to death. Who will be the owners of this fervent and noble way of His subjects who will guide the country to victory other than young non-commissioned officers such as us?

Even though at times training is entrusted to me for basic battle techniques for an attack unit, I do not do integration of training from beginning to end. That being the case, with the noble spirit of more experienced men, comrades, and fellow countrymen who bravely and fiercely fought and made taiatari (body-crashing) attacks and became divine spirits, I am a person whose blood and flesh well up. Now based on new fury, my feeling has been converted to aggression. It is my only natural desire, and I changed to a fighter aircraft unit. Without asking for life or death, I will make myself as a bomb, and I will obliterate the enemy with one plane for one ship. I will lose the only resources that I rely on. Regarding the good news of joining the Special Attack Corps a while ago, I somehow obtained this by viewing it without saying a word. With the unique fate that heaven has given to me, there is nothing that surpasses this.

We certainly must win this war. We surely must believe that there will be victory. In order to obtain this victory, I, who have been shown deep affection by everyone beginning with you, within a few days will head towards the place of the mission that I have been given. I will die before you without repaying any of your kindness and without carrying out my duties as a child for a long time (21 years [1]). Please forgive this misfortune. However, on the occasion when we do this splendid work, let everyone in the family smile and please praise these children. I very earnestly ask for only this.

Finally, I enclose two savings account passbooks as a small gift. I will be honored above all else if everyone beginning with you please uses a little of it as spending money. Also, I am sending the required seal. Since it is inside a packing box, please accept it.

Although it is planned that my personal items (only various clothing) eventually will be sent afterward together with a trunk, it may have been requested for them to be entrusted to Manjirō Imai at 795-banchi, Senbiki Village, Chiisagata-gun, Gifu Prefecture. He is the parent of a student of mine in the Youth Pilot training program. Please handle this matter. This Youth Pilot Heichō (Leading Soldier) also had a relationship with me as teacher and student, and we will head together to the place of our new mission. I pray for your health.

Dear Father,

Finally I will realize my desire that I had for many years. The day has come when I will repay the country by risking my life.

When I think about it, there is death at a young age, there is death at maturity, and there is unexpected death. These vicissitudes are a feature of life. That being said, in spite of this I will live with pure loyalty. While praying for the country's prosperity and peace in the Orient, now together with my plane I go toward an enemy aircraft carrier to fall as a flower.

Living is being a loyal follower, and dying is becoming a spirit to protect the country. If for the Emperor, I just go calmly to my place of death.

Not wanting to return alive seven times, I only offer this body as needed as a patriot devoted to the country's salvation. I only live for an eternal cause.

Father, I am going out. As for my plane that will explode loudly, will you not be waiting for me smiling? Ah, I am filled with deep emotion.

Finally, because of your old age, please be careful about your health. I pray that you will be able to keep your long life. Give my regards to everyone.

Dear Father,

Finally the sortie order has come. How happy I am. Now there is no more for me to say.

I just will give my one life for the Emperor. This will be my farewell to all of you. Please do your very best together until the day we win. I will go to Okinawa as a Shinbu Squadron member. I pray for your health.


Letters translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letters and biographical information on this page come from Naemura (1993, 120-2, 474).


1. The traditional Japanese method of counting age, as in much of East Asia, regards a child as age one at birth and adds an additional year on each New Year's day thereafter. This explains why the letter indicates his age as 21 whereas the background information in Naemura (1993, 120) indicates his age was 20 at the time of his death.

Source Cited

Naemura, Hichirō. 1993. Rikugun saigo no tokkō kichi: Bansei tokkōtaiin no isho to isatsu (Army's last special attack base: Last letters and photographs of Bansei special attack corps members). Ōsaka: Tōhō Shuppan.