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Another "Eternal Zero":
Tsukuba Naval Air Group

Last Letter of Ensign Makoto Yoshida to His Older Sister

At 0656 on May 11, 1945, Ensign Makoto Yoshida took off from Kanoya Air Base as pilot in a Zero fighter carrying a 500-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 22 [1]. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 5th Tsukuba Squadron. After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Lieutenant. He was from Hyōgo Prefecture, attended Tōkyō Imperial University, and was a member of the 14th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter to his older sister:

Evening of May 10, 1945

The sortie is on May 11. The line-up is at daybreak at 4:30, and I head straight south from Kanoya at 5:30. The target is the enemy task force just south of the main island of Okinawa. I vow to make a sure hit, instant sinking (hitchū gōchin). I pray to achieve a great battle result that will shine throughout the whole country.

Dear Older Sister Tokuko, I deeply appreciate your showing affection to me and caring for me in many ways. This letter is my last gift. It probably is hard to read with my sloppy writing, but it is fine to make "copies" if you are able to make it out, and please pass it on also to Father, Mother, and our brothers and younger sisters [2].

Well then, I will go and surely do it. I will bring along that doll.

Letter translated by Bill Gordon
May 2018

The letter comes from Katabami (2014, 86). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Katabami (2014, 86) and Osuo (2005, 198).


1. Tokkōtai Senbotsusha (1990, 202) gives his year of birth as 1922, so Yoshida could have been 22 or 23 years of age at death. Other sources do not specify a birth date or provide his age at death. By using a mid-year birth date of July 1, his age at death is assumed to be 22.

2. The letter does not specify the number of older brothers, younger brothers, and younger sisters. There could have been one or more of each.

Sources Cited

Katabami, Masaaki. 2014. Mō hitotsu no "Eien no Zero": Tsukuba Kaigun Kōkūtai (Another "Eternal Zero": Tsukuba Naval Air Group). Tōkyō: Village Books.

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

Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.