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Last Letter of Corporal Sakae Ogawa to His Parents and Others

On May 28, 1945, Corporal Sakae Ogawa took off from Miyakonojō East Airfield as a member of the 59th Shinbu Special Attack Squadron and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 18. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After his death in a special attack, he received a four-rank promotion to Second Lieutenant. He was from Gunma Prefecture and was a member of the 14th Class of the Army Youth Pilot (Rikugun Shōhi) training program.

He wrote the following final letter to his parents and others:

Dear All,

I trust that everyone is doing well. I also am still in high spirits.

Finally for me the day to go has come. All of the squadron members are trying their best and have high morale. I am confident to make a hissatsu hitchin (certain death, sure sinking) attack. There are seniors of mine and members of my class who have gone a short time before me. Everybody joyfully will carry out his mission for the country.

I will go directly to the place of the decisive battle at Okinawa when my special attack plane departs OO [1] Base. My target is the enemy fleet at Nakagusuku Bay. In my death I will take along several thousand enemies, the American and British fiends. The key to victory in the decisive battle at Okinawa is to open the path. Now they will get hit by great blows from airborne units and the Special Attack Corps. The enemy's hard fighting also will be considerable.

The local people in many places in various regions cared for me considerably. I think that their letters and photos will arrive soon. At this time please tell them thanks in place of me. What seemed like every day I received various comfort articles from people. Many served as luxuries. I have no regrets. Certainly I will do it.

At 9 o'clock on May 28 at Okinawa's Nakagusuku Bay, I will fall bravely. Confident of certain victory, I do not look at myself.

Hope everyone will be healthy forever, and give my regards to everybody. Farewell.

Evening before sortie, at OO Base


He wrote the following second final letter to his parents and others with a death poem in tanka form (31-syllable poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) at the end:

Father, Mother, and everyone, farewell. I go joyfully. I will not forget others' acts of kindness in my lifetime. Please stay well for many years.

Young cherry blossom
In southern skies
Goes into world
Attack without stopping
White waves offshore

Letters and poem translated by Bill Gordon
July 2018

The letters and poem come from Terai (1977, 98-9). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 166) and Osuo (2005, 199).


1. OO indicates information that was a military secret and could not be included in the letter.

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.

Terai, Shun'ichi, ed. 1977. Kōkū Kichi Miyakonojō Hayate Tokkō Shinbutai (Miyakonojō Air Base Hayate Special Attack Shinbu Unit). Tōkyō: Genshobō.