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Ugaki (near center) addresses
pilots who will accompany him
on last kamikaze mission of war

Poem by Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki

Matome Ugaki served the last six months of World War II as Commander of the Sixth Air Fleet, headquartered at Kanoya Air Base near the southern tip of mainland Japan. From there he directed mass kamikaze attacks, called "special attacks" in Japanese, against the American fleet off Okinawa.

On May 11, 1945, the Japanese Navy and Army executed a joint operation named Kikusui No. 6, one of ten mass kamikaze attacks carried out between April 6 and June 22, 1945. On the date of Kikusui No. 6 operation, Ugaki wrote a poem about the many special attack (kamikaze) pilots who had perished:

Flowers of the special attack are falling
When the spring is leaving.
Gone with the spring
Are young boys like cherry blossoms.
Gone are the blossoms,
Leaving cherry trees only with leaves.

After Ugaki heard the Emperor's message of surrender on August 15, 1945, he personally led a squadron of 11 planes to make suicide attacks on American ships at Okinawa, where his men had lost their lives like cherry blossoms.


The above poem comes from page 610 of the following English translation of Ugaki's war diary:

Ugaki, Matome. 1991. Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome Ugaki, 1941-1945. Translated by Masataka Chihaya. Edited by Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.