6. Pilots Wrote Their Family Final Letters
Like all Kamikaze pilots, Horiyama was asked to pen a letter and will, which were to be sent to his family after his death. He said, “I was a disrespectful child and got poor grades at school. I told my father that I was sorry for being such a bad student, and for crashing three planes during training exercises. And I was sorry that the course of the war seemed to be turning against Japan. I wanted to prove myself to him, and that’s why I volunteered to join the special attack unit.
“But my mother was upset. Just before she died, she told me that she would never have forgiven my father if I had died in a kamikaze attack. So I’m grateful to the emperor that he stopped the war.”
Another such letter, written by 23-year-old Adachi Takuya to his parents before his death as a Kamikaze pilot on April 28, 1945, has been preserved in its entirety:
Honorable Mother and Father,
The difficulty of the journey you made to see me was clearly evident in your disheveled hair and in the hollows under your eyes-it made me want to bend my knees and worship before you. In the wrinkles on your brows was vivid testimony of the pains you took to raise me. Words could not express my feelings, and what little I did say was superficial in the extreme.
Yet, although acutely conscious of how little time we had, I saw in your eyes and in your gaze all you wanted to say but couldn’t.
When you took my hand and passed it over your chilblains, I experienced a sense of profound peacefulness unlike anything I have experienced since joining up -like being a baby again and longing for the warmth of a mother’s love. It is because I bask in the beauty of your deep devotion that I can martyr myself for you-for in death I will sleep in the world of your love. Washed down with my tears was the sushi you prepared with such loving care, for it was like putting your love to my lips. Though I ate but little, it was the most delicious meal of my life.
Honorable Mother, even if I was never able to fully accept the love you gave me, I received so much wisdom from you. And Father, your silent words are carved deeply into my heart. With this I will be able to fight together with you both. Even if I should die, it will be with a peaceful spirit.
I mean this with all my heart.
The war zone is where these beautiful emotions are put to the test. If death means a return to this world of love, there is no need for me to fear. There is nothing left to do but press on and fulfill my duty.
At 16oo hours our meeting was over. Watching you walk out the gate, I quietly waved goodbye.