It was April 11, 1945, when the starboard side of the USS Missouri was struck by a Mitsubishi “Zero”- during the Battle of Okinawa. Fortunately, the Missouri sustained only minor damage and none of the crew members were seriously injured.
The 19–year-old Kamikaze pilot, who is believed to be Setsuo Ishino, was killed instantly and his remains along with parts of the plane wreckage were recovered on board after the attack. Showing an act of compassion and respect, Captain William M. Callaghan, who served as the commanding officer of the USS Missouri during World War II, issued an order that the pilot be given a military burial at sea.
The following morning, a Japanese flag, hastily-sewn and pieced together by Missouri crew members, was draped over the pilot’s body. As he was laid to rest, the Marine guard fired a traditional three-volley rifle salute, a bugler played “Taps” and the ship’s chaplain, Roland Faulk, concluded the brief ceremony with the words, “Commend his body to the deep.”
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Kamikaze strike against the USS Missouri and the act of humanity that was shown in the midst of war, the Battleship Missouri Memorial unveiled a new exhibit focusing on the USS Missouri’s connection to the pilot and the historical background and circumstances that inspired Japan’s World War II Kamikaze. The exhibit contains historical photographs, personal artifacts, uniform items and a special display of farewell letters written by the pilots to their loved ones.
One of the letters belonged to 23-year-old, Toshio Anazawa who piloted a Nakajima K1-43 fighter and departed for his one way mission on April 12, 1945.
These were some of his last words to his fiancé, Chieko:
To Dear Chieko
The two of us tried so hard by working together, but in the end we were unable to find a way to be united. Even while we were holding out hope, the fear lurking in our hearts that we might “miss the chance” has now become a reality…
Now I don’t want to fruitlessly revisit the past with our relationship. The question is the future…
“I wish for nothing other than your happiness.”
“Don’t waste your time with trifles from the past. You mustn’t live in the past.”
“Take courage, forget the past, and find new ways to be happy in the future.”
“You have to live from now on in the reality of each moment. I, Anazawa, no longer exist in the world of reality.”
It seems silly to talk like this at such a time, but I feel like being a bit greedy for a moment.
1. Books I’d Like To Read
2. Paintings I’d Like To See
Raphael’s Madonna and Child
Hogai’s Merciful Mother Kannon
3. Chieko, I want to meet you, to talk with you, with all my heart.
From here on, please go forward cheerfully and brightly. I too do my best not to trip over my feelings, but will head out to battle, smiling.
These historical artifacts are on loan by the Chiran Peace Museum courtesy of Minamikyushu, Kagoshima, Japan. This is the first time these artifacts are being displayed in the United States. The exhibit serves as a reminder of this significant moment in history. An act of compassion that occurred 70 years ago and continues to inspire and encourage peace for a better future. #sharemore