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Last letters of youth: Writings
of "Yokaren" war dead

Last Letters of Flight Chief Petty Officer Shūzō Satō to His Family

At 1208 on December 7, 1944, Flight Chief Petty Officer Shūzō Satō took off from Clark Air Base in the Philippines as pilot in a three-man Ginga bomber (Allied code name of Frances) loaded with an 800-kg bomb. He died in a special (suicide) attack at Ormoc Bay, an extension of the Camotes Sea, at the age of 22. He was a member of the 5th Kamikaze Special Attack Unit Gufū Squadron. He was from Fukushima Prefecture and was a member of the 3rd Hei Class of the Navy's Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program).

Satō wrote the following six separate short letters to different family members:

Dear Mother,

How are you doing? I enthusiastically am doing my best.

Finally I received the order. I will fight like a man. I am praying for your health.

Dear Older Brother,

I go one step before you.

I am praying for your health.

Dear Kayoko,

How is the girls school?

The time finally has come for me. I can fight excellently.

Please do well in helping the family.

Dear Keisuke,

I have caused troubles for you for a long time, haven't I?

I appreciate from the bottom of my heart that thanks to you up to now I was able to serve and have had no worries concerning household matters. Finally I also will depart. Please be glad.

It is inevitable death for the enemy. It is the final trump card. Now I will go.

Dear Hachirō,

Are you studying hard? How about helping the family?

Please quickly become a man among men.

Follow after me.

Dear Older Sister,

I earnestly request your assistance with family matters.

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letters come from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 77-8). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Mainichi Shinbunsha (1968, 77) and Osuo (2005, 166).

Sources Cited

Mainichi Shinbunsha, ed. 1968. Seishun no isho: "Yokaren" senbotsusha no shuki (Last letters of youth: Writings of "Yokaren" war dead). Tōkyō: Mainichi Shinbunsha.

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