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Last Letters of Second Lieutenant Yoshio Usui to His Parents

On June 19, 1945, Second Lieutenant Yoshio Usui took off from Bansei Air Base and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 22. He was a member of the 144th Shinbu Squadron. He piloted an Army Hayabusa Type 1 Fighter (Allied code name of Oscar). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Captain. He was from Kanagawa Prefecture, attended the Tōkyō College of Science, and was a member of the 2nd Class of the Army Special Cadet Officer Pilot Training (Tokubetsu Sōjū Minarai Shikan) Program.

He wrote the following final letters to his parents with two death poems in tanka form (31-syllable poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5-7-7):

Dear Father and Mother,

Now it has come about that I will advance to a front-line base in Japan as a member of the honored Special Attack Corps. Finally tomorrow I will carry out an attack on a target.

I have not done anything in my lifetime of 23 years [1], and I always caused you worries. I appreciate from my heart that I received your upbringing filled with love.

However, I believe that tomorrow's daring undertaking will be my first and last act of filial piety for you.

I will go smiling to fall nobly. I believe that, as we forget everything, going forth bravely is our greatest joy, pride, and honor as young men and as youth born in the great Shōwa Era.

Parents, please do not be disheartened.

Your children, Older Brother and Younger Brother together, fell nobly for the country. With pride in this, please live beautifully and bravely. I am praying secretly for everyone's health.

June 4



The season of new leaves has passed, and now it is the rainy season [2]. Every day weather with slight clouds is continuing.

I suppose that everyone recently has been getting along without any changes

Please rest your mind that thanks to you I am getting along in high spirits.

When I think, it has been a quick week since I came here. During that time I have been doing regular things, and I am still here.

I do not know what time that I will make a sortie, but do not worry about my matters. Please live in high spirits.

Cherry blossom to fall bravely
Bloom beautifully, cherry blossoms that can stay


Now I go as shield for Emperor
A Yamato [3] warrior to shatter as jewel


Dear Father and Mother,

When I quietly reflect, I have memories of the joys of the days that passed. Also, a difficult time was in the shadows of the mountains in the Southern and Northern Alps [4].

However, now I forget all of those things. I will go as Special Attack Corps member and as an Air Force officer.

Finally, I pray from my heart for everyone's great happiness.

June 17, 1945


Letters and poems translated by Bill Gordon
December 2018

The letters and poems come from Naemura (1993, 180-2). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 177), Naemura (1993, 180), and Osuo (2005, 179).


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 23 whereas Naemura (1993, 180) gives his age as 22.

2. The rainy season in Japan begins in the first half of June.

3. Yamato is an ancient name for Japan.

4. The Southern Alps are a mountain range in Nagano, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka Prefectures. The Northern Alps are a mountain range in Nagano, Toyama, and Gifu Prefectures.

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.

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.

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