“I have always thought that my experience might be well compared to the historical Exodus,” he said, referring to the biblical story of the Jews who left Egypt, led by Moses to the Promised Land. Beyond any loyalty to country and emperor, few would want to appear so cowardly, or endure the shame of not being willing to die when their fellow soldiers were giving their own lives to protect their homeland, both those present when volunteers were being asked for and ultimately those who’d already fulfilled their suicide missions. According to the U.S. Air Force, nearly three thousand kamikaze attacks took place, managing to damage 368 ships, sinking 34 of them, while killing 4,900 navy soldiers and wounding another 4,800, but with only about 14% of attacking kamikaze pilots managing to hit a ship. “It was this conviction that many young men were willing and desiring to serve their country,” he said. It is easy to talk about death in the abstract, as the ancient philosophers discussed. It took the country’s near-death for him to find religion and become a priest. If he did not kill himself but tried to escape, he might be shot from behind, because his superiors and some comrades believed in the state dictum that one must never be captured by the enemy. As a second son, Nakamura was in the latter category. Axell and Kase see these suicides as "individual, impromptu decisions by men who were mentally prepared to die". 1 1. If you’re wondering what happened to the few men that said no, according to Emiko. Nakamura recently shared his experiences — which included training as a kamikaze pilot, human torpedo and suicide bomber — with about 300 Marines at Camp Hansen to help them see war from a different perspective. While hearing about war experiences might not be rare for the Marines who hear Nakamura speak, listening to an account from the other side of the war was stirring for some. In the first few days the pilots learned to take off. In fact, the manual given to kamikaze pilots stated: “In the event of poor weather conditions when you cannot locate the target, or under other adverse circumstances, you may decide to return to base. It was also believed that the show of honour and selflessness shown by a Kamikaze pilot willingly sacrificing himself for this country would have massive psychological impacts on the invading forces. Though the idea of sending pilots on one-way suicide missions is largely attributed to one, Capt. The priest cried with him and told him that Japan has dead, because if you could not feel the pain when your little finger was cut off, it meant that your body was dead. A plane should be utilized over and over again. When the quality of pilots went down, plane losses continued to rise due to the gap in skill/experience/plane performance. The 87-year-old retired Anglican bishop grew up on Okinawa as militarism swept across Japan. PAMELA. Survivor’s guilt bitterly tormented him. Takijiro Onishi and Motoharu Okamura both ended up taking their own lives after the war ended. This brings us to the Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (literally, “Special Attack Unit”), members of which are commonly called “kamikazes”. Yukio Seki was born in a small village, Iyo Saijo, in Shikoku. In fact, suicide pilots usually received only the minimum of flight training. Your email address will not be published. “Let me say that this was of no consequence because it was a way that I could serve,” he said. He was supposed to use this technique if he was trapped in a cave or in a trench surrounded by the enemy. Allied pilots were experienced and better-trained, and flew superior aircraft, making the poorly trained kamikaze pilots easy targets. He was sent to join a squadron of pilots in Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island, in April 1945, when the kamikaze were at their most active. Kamikaze pilots were not expected to return from what was a suicidal attack on the enemy.Most Kamikaze pilots had little training, nor flew decent aeroplanes. The questionnaire comprised of a single multi-choice question that asked: “Do you desire earnestly/wish/do not wish to be involved in kamikaze attacks?” All the men had to do was circle the statement they most agreed with. But other opportunities loomed. In Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney’s work, Kamikaze Diaries (accounts by the so-called “student soldiers” of Japan from their writings during the war- many of the prospective kamikaze volunteers were these “boy-pilots”), it stated one of the first things student soldiers learned was. About 3,800 kamikaze pilots sacrificed their lives for the war, and over 7,000 naval personnel were killed as a result of the attacks. “Tokubetsu Kōgekitai”. Later in the war, Japan started suffering fuel shortages, and didn’t have the fuel to train pilots as well. The right way is to attack the enemy with skill and return to the base with good results. Don’t be discouraged. There will be no progress if flyers continue to die. Not all kamikaze pilots died though. At the outset of the Second World War, Japanese pilots could often receive up to 500 hours of training. “I became a beggar on the street,” he said. 3 years ago. “I must admit that I really longed for my previous life when I was in the imperial army,” where there was no freedom, but he had food, warm clothes and a place to sleep. But human torpedoes also ran out before his turn came, so he was chosen to be a suicide bomber. Like many others, he became an ultra-nationalist who firmly believed in selfless devotion to his country. As Captain Motoharu Okamura stated, “There were so many volunteers for suicide missions that he referred to them as a swarm of bees… Bees die after they have stung.” (In truth, bees do not usually die after they sting things. If one kamikaze pilot could blow up a vessel carrying hundreds of sailors, he would be a hero, and more importantly, Japan could win the war, he said. No, they were not terrorists,they were japanese airmen. Screwed big time I’ll say ! Determined to make his suicide squads a reality, Onishi personally made the very first announcement requesting volunteers for the “special attack force” at Mabalacat Air Base. 3 years ago. As Ichizo Hayashi stated in a letter he wrote in April of 1945, a few days before his death, “I am pleased to have the honour of having been chosen as a member of a Special Attack Force that is on its way into battle, but I cannot help crying when I think of you, Mum. Soon afterward, Nakamura entered a theological school. Pilots did not have to be highly trained to undertake suicide missions. This resulted in sending out relatively inexperienced pilots in outdated aircraft. Skim the ground, zoom climb to 10,000 feet; sight the target, dive, clod-hop again at a height of 650 to 750 feet. When he finally returned to Okinawa, he found that all of the eldest sons who had stayed there were killed in the Battle of Okinawa. All 23 pilots asked to join ultimately volunteered. “My earlier desire of wanting to return to the kamikaze and the imperial army was no longer with me,” he said. The minute I got up, I was hit again by a club…” Officially, the purpose for this extremely brutal “training” was to instill in the soldiers a “fighting spirit”. Kamikaze Pilots Were Given A Manual. "We were trained to suppress our emotions. This was necessary as there was no way for the person inside to get out of the torpedo once sealed in. If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as: According to human psychology, it totally understandable that some would be crazy enough to go but I can guarantee you that most thought like the survivor that said ““Oh, I’m screwed”. “What was provided us was a glider,” with trainees forced to use their imagination for the instruments on a plane, he said. The Marines are with various units assigned to III Marine Expeditionary Force. MARINE CORPS, Japan city seeks UN recognition for kamikaze pilot letters, Sailor witnessed kamikaze attacks during World War II, World War II veterans recall kamikaze attack on ship, Kamikaze attack survivors gather on USS Intrepid, Chance encounter changed WWII kamikaze’s life. In the final stages of the war, however, it was clear that Japan was fighting a losing battle, so special suicide corps were organized. There is no other way. Kamikaze pilots were expected to die in their attacks. Directed by Risa Morimoto. Then he discovered that American occupation forces were not “demons,” as war propaganda had taughter him. The military also presented them with a manual that instructed how they must think, prepare, … For this reason, the training to become a Kamikaze pilot, despite its brevity, was very hard and included getting into the aircraft, take-off, formation flying and the actual attack. Inflation quickly set in, and his money became almost useless. After becoming a priest, he went on a missionary trip throughout Japan, urging people to come back to life through Jesus Christ. Roughly 4,000 kamikaze pilots died and 34 U.S. ships were sunk in the last few months of the war, according to the filmmakers. Even for a short life, there are many memories. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It also reflected the lack of well-trained and experienced pilots. One kamikaz. This plan also called for around-the-clock fighter patrols over Allied fleets, though the U.S. Navy had cut back training of fighter pilots so there were not enough Navy pilots available to counter the kamikaze threat. In a sense, there had even been a kamikaze attack in Japan's very first battle against American troops. This all might leave you wondering how effective the kamikaze program was for the Japanese. From here, reports of the day are that many more pilots than there were planes eagerly signed up (supposedly so many that they outnumbered the available planes 3 to 1). Many of the Kamikaze pilots were 17 and 18 year olds with bare bones training of flying an airplane. Sonderkommando (Special Command) Elbe was a special unit of volunteers that deliberately collided into American bombers. Has Anyone Ever Actually Created a Suitcase Nuke? In March 1944, 17-year-old Nakamura volunteered to be a kamikaze pilot and left Okinawa for the mainland for training. He was 19. Wings of Defeat is a feature-length documentary exploring the human experience of surviving kamikaze pilots. Kamikaze attacks had distinct advantages: There was a critical shortage of pilots in Japan - and in a sense that's how the Kakikaze strategy ironically got started ie. Why did headquarters continue such silly attacks for ten months! By the end of the war over 2500 Japanese pilots had sacrificed their lives. Honour has always played a big part in Japanese society. Your email address will not be published. By the end of the war, as many as 3,800 kamikaze pilots died. The one-man submarine had no escape hatch: Once you went in, there was no way to get out, he said. Further, many of the “boy-soldiers” who ended up becoming kamikaze pilots were brutally treated during their training, to the point that, based on firsthand accounts from the trainees, many lost any sense of patriotism. Beyond suicide, what other choice was there? An airplane shortage hampered preparations, he said… Kuroda Kenjirō decided not to volunteer, only to be taken by surprise when he found his name on the list of volunteers for the Mitate Navy tokkōtai corps; his superior had reported proudly that all the members of his corps had volunteered. 4 0. Instead, they provided food, supplies and medical care to his people. The very low altitude approach demanded a certain dexterity, but … Onishi reportedly approached his superiors to ask to create a suicide squad and was granted permission on one condition, he was only allowed to recruit volunteers. The special suicide corps also consisted of suicide motorboats and human torpedos. Gabriel Estrada, 20, of Los Angeles. His parents owned an … This was a last-ditch effort by Japan to protect its homeland during its rapidly declining industrial capacity and the advances of U.S. forces toward the Japanese home islands. This led to many pilots needing to abort the mission in their unpredictable air crafts. The first official kamikazeplane had hit its target on Oct. 25, 1944, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but the idea had been building in Japan for even longer. “It is interesting to learn that kamikaze’s mission was solely to attack the United States,” said Cpl. If a pilot’s plane developed a problem en route or if a suitable target didn’t present itself, there was nothing stopping him from returning to base to try again later. It was written there, lol. This latter point was frequently written about in the letters and journals from many of the volunteers as to why they ultimately chose to do so. In 18th Century warfare, the first set of troops to storm the castle walls was designated “The Forlorn Hope.” Those troops that did survive intact enough to fight some more were often promoted on the battlefield. Even more importantly Kamikaze attacks were much more accurate than bombing runs allowi… The Seafires' best day was 15 August 1945, shooting down eight attacking aircraft for a single loss. Sgt. The Allied troops were afraid of these kamikaze attacks because they could not defend themselves against them. But he was only 10 to 12 years old and didn’t understand, he said. No, Kamikaze pilots were not trained fighter pilots. Before the formation of kamikaze units, pilots had made deliberate crashes as a last resort when their planes had suffered severe damage and they did not want to risk being captured, or wanted to do as much damage to the enemy as possible, since they were crashing anyway. After a lengthy speech on patriotism, it was asked that anyone who didn’t wish to be a kamikaze step forward. However, it is decided for me that I die for the emperor. So many students are gone. An airplane shortage hampered preparations, he said. While there certainly were those who were willing to volunteer to die for emperor and country, and many more willing to die in this way simply because they felt, somewhat correctly, that they were the last line of defense to protect their families and friends at home, in truth many seem to have simply been pressured into it. All Rights Reserved. Early models did include a mechanism to escape once the torpedo was aimed correctly, but not a single soldier. By CHIYOMI SUMIDA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 25, 2015. During WWII, thousands of Japanese pilots made the ultimate sacrifice for their country by becoming, essentially, flying suicide bombers. His only hope was to reunite with his parents, who were safe in Taiwan. A final element included intensive fighter sweeps over Japanese airfields, and bombing of Japanese runways, using delayed-action bombs to make repairs more difficult. Kamikaze attacks were more accurate than conventional attacks, and often caused more damage. “Then he told me to become a priest to help Japan to restore life, like Jesus restored Lazarus to life four days after his death,” he said. “Possibly in some strange way that I could not understand, God had spared my life as He had a plan for my life.”. But I reached a point of no return. CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa — Paul Saneaki Nakamura prepared three times to carry out a suicide attack for Japan during World War II. Bob B. Lv 7. Kamikaze pilots were taught to divert and try to return to the base if there was engine failure or any other sort of mechanical issue. The kicker being that although the men were free to say they didn’t want to take part, they still had to sign their name to it. “You remember when the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they were always longing to return to Egypt,” he said. Were they really bright eyed volunteers eager to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, as the war time propaganda stated, or were they forced into it? The Last Kamikaze Pilot. Many pilots were trained to become kamikaze. Alan Wolthekker, 24, of Tampa, Fla., heard war stories from his grandfather, who fought in the Pacific theater as a merchant marine. To illustrate how dire things were, going back to 1942, in a single day in June of that year Japan lost more airmen than they had managed to train in an entire year just before the war. The current thinking is skewed. Imperial Japanese Navy Gekitsui-O (flying ace), Saburo Sakai, who had at least 28 victories ranking him fourth for the war for Japan, including shooting down or severely damaging over 60 Allied planes, stated in an interview, “Even now, many faces of my students come up when I close my eyes. to use his toe to pull the trigger [of his rifle] while pointing the gun precisely at a certain point under his chin so that the bullet would kill him instantly. After all, no skills were required except for flying straight, he said. “I had the faith of a martyr.”. But it is real death I fear, and I don’t know if I can overcome the fear. By April 1945, though, it was apparent that many kamikaze pilots, perhaps because of fuel shortages that limited their training, possessed meager flying skills and could be easily shot down. He worshipped the emperor as god; offering his life to the emperor was the ultimate virtue. War propaganda flooded the news with the imperial army’s victories, especially in China, he said. The Kamikaze pilots were trained in wooden crates as there were not enough planes to train them in. How Were Soldiers Trained to Be Kamikaze? For instance, Irokawa Daikichi stated he was “struck on the face so hard and frequently that [his] face was no longer recognizable… I was hit so hard that I could no longer see and fell on the floor. Any soldier who refused would become persona non grata or be sent to the southern battlefield, where death was guaranteed. They also featured a self destruct mechanism if the person failed in their mission. Motoharu Okamura, reports of Japanese pilots intentionally crashing their planes into the enemy, often when damaged too much to return to base, weren’t unheard of prior to the start of the suicide pilot initiative in 1944. "We didn't think too much [about dying]," Hisao Horiyama, one of the last two surviving kamikaze pilots told The Guardian in 2015 at age 92. Kamikaze pilots were not terrorists. If they were not ready to die, they would be ineffective. He spent many nights on a railroad station bench. This article is from the May 2009 issue of WWII History Magazine. Yukio Seki. Otherwise, you cannot expect to improve air power. "Publishers also played up the idea that the kamikaze were enshrined at Yasukuni and ran exaggerated stories of kamikaze bravery – there were even fairy tales for little children that promoted the kamikaze" (website #2) . Pilots usually dropped their landing gear after takeoff so that it could be used by other planes. Until that moment, he never had doubted his identity as a full-fledged Japanese. Kamikaze pilots were trained to take off, but not to land. Lv 7. Provide me with 300 planes and I will turn the tide of war. If a soldier had managed to be courageous enough not to volunteer, he would have been consigned to a living hell. The Kamikaze pilots, on the other hand, were usually much younger, since older men were needed to train the new recruits. This is not the case when they sting many other animals.). For starters, the Japanese military brass were desperate. Some dive-bombed enemy ships. In March 1944, 17-year-old Nakamura volunteered to be a kamikaze pilot and left Okinawa for the mainland for training. In fact, most of those flying suicide missions were under the age of 24 and, on average, received only 40 to 50 hours of training. About 19% of kamikaze attacks were successful. One example of this may have occurred on 7 December 194… Kamikaze pilots sank or damaged hundreds of ships during the latter part of the war. Eldest sons were allowed to live to continue their family lines. “Also it is amazing for his big change in life from an attacker to now a bishop.”. Nakamura and his fellow trainees drank water together with him from a sake cup, a Japanese ritual to see someone off for his final parting. For someone who had a good life, it is very difficult to part with it. Such situations occurred in both the Axis and Allied air forces. Hunger tortured him, but finding a job was not easy when the entire country was devastated. Nakamura is a retired Anglican Church bishop and a prior service World War II veteran with Special Missions Unit, Japanese Imperial Navy Air Corps, Imperial Japan. TYLER S. GIGUERE/U.S. I cannot predict the outcome of the air battles, but you will be making a mistake if you should regard Special Attack operations as normal methods. Why Imperial Japan's Kamikaze Attacks Were Deadlier Than Any Missile . The training of this latter class of pilots says a lot: minimal flight training combined with intensive “spiritual” training featuring rigorous physical exercise, corporal punishment, and psychological conditioning. It was strictly a one-way trip; no fuel was loaded for a return flight. When he was in middle school, World War II had spread to the Pacific theater following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.