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. Survivor’s guilt bitterly tormented him. These kaitens were just modified torpedoes that allowed the person inside to control them. 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. There will be no progress if flyers continue to die. 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. CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa — Paul Saneaki Nakamura prepared three times to carry out a suicide attack for Japan during World War II. It took the country’s near-death for him to find religion and become a priest. The Kamikaze pilots of the tokko tai received just 40 to 50 hours of flight training. 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. 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. Not all kamikaze pilots died though. 3 years ago. After all, no skills were required except for flying straight, he said. “Let me say that this was of no consequence because it was a way that I could serve,” he said. In March 1944, 17-year-old Nakamura volunteered to be a kamikaze pilot and left Okinawa for the mainland for training. Pat A. asks: Were Kamikaze pilots all just volunteers or how exactly did they get selected? 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. 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? An airplane shortage hampered preparations, he said… On top of this, many of the men already flying by the time war broke out were older and more experienced, with many years in the air already behind them. So what tactics were specifically used to convince the volunteers? It is easy to talk about death in the abstract, as the ancient philosophers discussed. About 19% of kamikaze attacks were successful. There is no other way. Sgt. The Last Kamikaze Pilot. After becoming a priest, he went on a missionary trip throughout Japan, urging people to come back to life through Jesus Christ. Alan Wolthekker, 24, of Tampa, Fla., heard war stories from his grandfather, who fought in the Pacific theater as a merchant marine. 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. I need it for an assignment and I can’t find it anywhere. 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. All pilots took a five point oath: a soldier must make loyalty his obligation, a soldier must make … As a second son, Nakamura was in the latter category. Pilots would attempt to crash their aircraft into enemy ships in what was called a “body attack” (tai-atari) in planes loaded with bombs, torpedoes or other explosives. 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. During Pearl Harbor, a pilot named Lt. Fusata Iida had deliberately crash… 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. No, they were not terrorists,they were japanese airmen. So many students are gone. They lied!”. By the end of the war over 2500 Japanese pilots had sacrificed their lives. 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. Instead, they provided food, supplies and medical care to his people. 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. The one-man submarine had no escape hatch: Once you went in, there was no way to get out, he said. For someone who had a good life, it is very difficult to part with it. The very low altitude approach demanded a certain dexterity, but … Your email address will not be published. But human torpedoes also ran out before his turn came, so he was chosen to be a suicide bomber. 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. However, the official story of droves of zealous volunteers clamoring to sign up has been questioned by many historians, particularly with firsthand accounts from actual pilots popping up since, painting a decidedly less patriotic or eager tone. Fahey thought he was the first person to see a kamikaze attack in action — but he wasn't. 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. Anger and shock ran through him because no one seemed to be aware that Okinawa had been severed from the rest of Japan after WWII. The enemy had them outgunned, out-manned, and possessed certain critical technologies that Japan didn’t have. Tears welled up and he found himself running toward his church. All 23 pilots asked to join ultimately volunteered. Bob B. Lv 7. Kamikaze pilots weren’t afraid for their lives and were always ready to sacrifice their lives to defend their nation. Training involved rigorous discipline and frequent beatings in order to craft a “fighting spirit” (攻撃精神, kōgekiseishin) within the soldier. In the first few days the pilots learned to take off. Pilots did not have to be highly trained to undertake suicide missions. 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. An airplane shortage hampered preparations, he said. In the final stages of the war, however, it was clear that Japan was fighting a losing battle, so special suicide corps were organized. Why did headquarters continue such silly attacks for ten months! 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. Kamikaze training was much mental training, as the government needed soldiers who were mentally prepared to die. 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. 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. As you can imagine, volunteering by default in this way was extremely effective. Seafires were heavily involved in countering the kamikaze attacks during the Iwo Jima landings and beyond. Marines take a group photo with Paul Saneaki Nakamura, from Naha, Okinawa, Dec. 9 at Camp Hansen, Okinawa. 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. 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. To be honest, I cannot say that the wish to die for the emperor is genuine, coming from my heart. “Tokubetsu Kōgekitai”. He was 19. Nakamura was chosen for the latter. 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. “My earlier desire of wanting to return to the kamikaze and the imperial army was no longer with me,” he said. Then he discovered that American occupation forces were not “demons,” as war propaganda had taughter him. The Kamikaze pilots, on the other hand, were usually much younger, since older men were needed to train the new recruits. However, it was Capt. If they were not ready to die, they would be ineffective. It also reflected the lack of well-trained and experienced pilots. Before Nakamura’s turn for a final drink came, the imperial navy ran out of airplanes for the operation. However, it is decided for me that I die for the emperor. A final element included intensive fighter sweeps over Japanese airfields, and bombing of Japanese runways, using delayed-action bombs to make repairs more difficult. This was necessary as there was no way for the person inside to get out of the torpedo once sealed in. 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”. They kept these manuals in their cockpit, which contained … So, in that sense, plane for plane, it was tragically successful considering the Americans had radar, superior numbers and planes, and the kamikaze pilots were often woefully inexperienced. 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. Any soldier who refused would become persona non grata or be sent to the southern battlefield, where death was guaranteed. War propaganda flooded the news with the imperial army’s victories, especially in China, he said. “Also it is amazing for his big change in life from an attacker to now a bishop.”. Nakamura spoke about being a World War II veteran and Anglican Church bishop. This brings us to the Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (literally, “Special Attack Unit”), members of which are commonly called “kamikazes”. But other opportunities loomed. The rest were expected to offer their lives to the emperor. As Sasaki points out, the pressure on young men to do something for their country during that time was significant, and the threat of retaliation if you said no was very real, as was the fear that there would potentially be retaliation against not only the soldier, but his family back home. As noted in Mako Sasaki’s paper, Who Became Kamikaze Pilots, and How Did They Feel Towards Their Suicide Mission, published in The Concord Review, some men were recruited to the program by way of a simple questionnaire. Pilots usually dropped their landing gear after takeoff so that it could be used by other planes. Axell and Kase see these suicides as "individual, impromptu decisions by men who were mentally prepared to die". 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. Has Anyone Ever Actually Created a Suitcase Nuke? Kamikaze attacks were more accurate than conventional attacks, and often caused more damage. Many who volunteered to the Kamikaze corp saw it as an honour to die for their country. Even more importantly Kamikaze attacks were much more accurate than bombing runs allowi… “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. A kamikaze pilot was a Japanese pilot specially trained during World War II to fly an airplane full of explosives and crash it into enemy territories, knowing very well that he will be killed. There were some instances of hiropon being tried out on night fighter pilots to enhance their alertness and vision—which makes a lot more sense than using it on suicide pilots—but it was soon discontinued due to concerns over the side effects. Takijiro Onishi and Motoharu Okamura both ended up taking their own lives after the war ended. His parents owned an … Directed by Risa Morimoto. Why Imperial Japan's Kamikaze Attacks Were Deadlier Than Any Missile . The term “kamikaze” roughly translates to “divine wind”, which was previously a name given to a legendary typhoon that helped stop a Mongol invasion during the 13th century. “Possibly in some strange way that I could not understand, God had spared my life as He had a plan for my life.”. 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. Gabriel Estrada, 20, of Los Angeles. Allied pilots were experienced and better-trained, and flew superior aircraft, making the poorly trained kamikaze pilots easy targets. Wings of Defeat is a feature-length documentary exploring the human experience of surviving kamikaze pilots. “Now his story made me feel more close to what he has accomplished.”, Paul Saneaki Nakamura tells a group of U.S. service members about his life expierences Dec. 9 at Camp Hansen, Okinawa. Soon afterward, Nakamura entered a theological school. The first such attack was carried out in October 1944 over the Philippines’ Leyte Gulf. As the war trampled on, Japanese aircraft became increasingly outdated. He was discharged from the imperial army, but there was no way to return to Okinawa. “It is interesting to learn that kamikaze’s mission was solely to attack the United States,” said Cpl. 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. But what was it that made these men so willing to lay down their lives in such a way? So the training focused solely on austere self-discipline, not on practical technique. I must plunge into an enemy vessel. The Marines are with various units assigned to III Marine Expeditionary Force. Also, why exactly did the Japanese military resort to such a tactic in the first place? This generally only happens when they sting humans, as their stingers get stuck in our fleshy skin. “We were taught that since we were such a small island nation and because we were one country fighting against many, great sacrifices were required,” he said. Not as such. The Kamikaze pilots were trained in wooden crates as there were not enough planes to train them in. The current thinking is skewed. In fact, suicide pilots usually received only the minimum of flight training. … all those men lied that all men volunteered for kamikaze units. No, Kamikaze pilots were not trained fighter pilots. 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. He was supposed to use this technique if he was trapped in a cave or in a trench surrounded by the enemy. Later in the war, Japan started suffering fuel shortages, and didn’t have the fuel to train pilots as well. 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. Yukio Seki. Also, the Kamikaze's only needed to be in the air long enough to find a target. “I had the faith of a martyr.”. But on the other hand, perhaps Lieutenant Commander Iwatani said it best in a March of 1945 edition of Taiyo magazine. He also began to go to church, where the warm, friendly people made him feel at home. The right way is to attack the enemy with skill and return to the base with good results. 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. Inflation quickly set in, and his money became almost useless. Lv 7. 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. Required fields are marked *. Don’t be discouraged. Yukio Seki was born in a small village, Iyo Saijo, in Shikoku. As a Marine who has served in Afghanistan, he found Nakamura’s experience very inspiring. The Allied troops were afraid of these kamikaze attacks because they could not defend themselves against them. He still vividly remembers the last words of a comrade — “You can have my dinner tonight.” — before he took off for a kamikaze mission. Do not waste your life lightly.”. 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. 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. “We were convinced that the Japanese army with its great success was god’s army with a special divine favor,” he said. 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”.