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Last Letter from Lieutenant Junior Grade Tadasu Fukino to His Mother

On January 6, 1945, Lieutenant Junior Grade Tadasu Fukino piloted a Suisei dive bomber (Allied code name of Judy) that crashed into the heavy cruiser Louisville (CA-28) in Lingayen Gulf off the coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines. The suicide attack killed 36 men [1] and wounded 56 others.

Tadasu's real mother died soon after his birth in 1919. Then her younger sister married Tadasu's father and became Tadasu's mother (or stepmother). His father died of illness in 1931, and after that Tadasu was raised by his strict grandfather.

Tadasu went to elementary school in Yodoe Town and junior high school in Yonago City in Tottori Prefecture. He attended Sixth High School in Okayama City. During both junior high and high school he played on the baseball team. Tadasu studied agricultural economics at Kyoto Imperial University before he joined the 13th Class of the Navy's Yobi Gakusei (Reserve Student) program. During his time as a university student he took piloting lessons at Yao Airfield in Osaka, which indicated his strong interest in aviation prior to entering the Navy.

In October 1943, his two-month Navy basic training started with over two thousand Reserve Students at Tsuchiura Air Base in Ibaraki Prefecture. He next moved a short distance to Kasumigaura Air Base for basic flight training and graduated in late March 1944. Fukino then went to Hyakurihara Air Base in Ibaraki Prefecture for training on how to fly carrier-based bombers and dive bombers. When he finished this training in late August 1944, he remained at Hyakurihara and joined an operational unit there.

In October 1944, the Navy formed the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps in the Philippines. On December 20, 1944, Fukino arrived in the Philippines as part of the Kyokujitsu [2] Special Attack Squadron that had been formed to supplement air power there and make suicide attacks on the American fleet. On January 6, 1945, he and his observer Ensign Seisaku Miyake took off in their two-man Suisei dive bomber toward Lingayen Gulf where American ships were bombarding the shore. It is known that their aircraft hit the heavy cruiser Louisville from a piece of the wing recovered after the crash. The piece had the Japanese characters of "Suisei" on it, and the Suisei dive bomber of Fukino and Miyake was the only one in the area at the time.

Tadasu Fukino wrote the following last letter to his mother after he had arrived in the Philippines and before his final mission:

December 31, 1944

Mother,

I truly have caused you only trouble for a long time. In addition to being undutiful to you in various ways, now again I will not even take care of you. Please forgive my prior undutifulness.

Last fall you surely were worried when I chose the Navy Air path. Using common sense, there were several other paths with little danger. Regarding the path of service to the country, perhaps those would have been adequate. However, as for this country of Japan, great numbers of us splendidly have obtained shining glory only after we have endured endless sorrows and griefs. Moreover, precisely because of this, hereafter Japan will be a country that flourishes. I have been able to advance and take this glorious path without any regrets precisely because I believed you to be a strong mother who has made this country of Japan prosper splendidly by valiantly enduring these sorrows. Even though I was able to go forward on the path of a warrior who will repay the country in some little way, it is primarily because of you, Mother.

You can say with pride that I went to a glorious death in the honorable Navy Air way and performed some little service.

I will be content with beautiful white clouds in the skies as a grave marker. Now I go to die for the Emperor and for the mountains and rivers of my beloved Japan.

Well, so long.

Tadasu

Fukino also wrote the following farewell poem two days after the last letter to his mother:

Emperor's country
Sad lives
Of brave warriors
Pile up

Following duty
Turn to death
Turn to life again
There is honor

January 2, 1945
Mabalacat Base, Philippines
Shinpu [3] Special Attack Corps Kyokujitsu Squadron
Lieutenant Junior Grade Tadasu Fukino


Letter and poem translated by Bill Gordon
April 2012

Source for Web Page

Hino (1997) is the source of the letter, poem, photograph, and information about Tadasu Fukino's life.

Notes

1. This number comes from Rielly (2010, 161, 319). Hino (1997, 142) states Louisville had 32 dead.

2. Kyokujitsu means rising sun.

3. The two Japanese characters for Shinpu can also be read as Kamikaze, which is the name by which most people refer to the Japanese Navy's aerial suicide attack corps.

Sources Cited

Hino, Takako. 1997. Tsubasa no kakera: Tokkou ni chitta kaigun yobi gakusei no seishun (Wing fragment: Youth of Navy reserve students who died in special attacks). Tokyo: Kodansha.

Rielly, Robin L. 2010. Kamikaze Attacks of World War II: A Complete History of Japanese Suicide Strikes on American Ships, by Aircraft and Other Means. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.