Okinawa Kamikaze story

This is an odd story that involves a flight instructor, his family, and a single-minded request. The whole thing was so strange, in fact, that the Japanese government censored it at the time.

Hajime Fujii was born on August 30, 1915, in Ibaraki Prefecture as the oldest of seven children. He joined the army and proved to be such a skilled machine gunner that they sent him to China.

Hajime Fujii

The Chinese weren’t too happy about that, which is why Fujii got hit by a mortar shell that wounded his left hand. Sent to the hospital, he was tended to by Fukuko – a beautiful field nurse from Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture.

It was love at first sight. Back then, arranged marriages were the norm, but the two were having none of it. So they returned to Japan, got married, and had two adorable daughters – Kazuko and Chieko.

Instead of sending him back to China, the Army kept Fujii in Japan and sent him to the Army Air Corps Academy where he graduated in 1943. Becoming a company commander with the Kumagaya Army Aviation School in Kaitama, Fujii was tasked with teaching his students character and mental discipline.

This included inculcating them with a deep sense of loyalty and patriotism and the value of crashing one’s plane into enemy ships and camps. According to his few surviving students, he frequently told them that he would die with them if he could.

But he couldn’t. The mortar shell didn’t take out his left hand, but it left him unable to grip a plane’s control stick. So the more he expressed his desire to die with his students (many of whom went on to do just that), the more the whole thing bothered him.

Kamikaze pilot

Japan didn’t enter WWII with any intention of creating kamikaze pilots and sending them on suicide missions. But it had expected a quick victory.  By 1944, Japan knew it was in serious trouble. Many of its veterans were gone, and many of those sent out never made it back. Desperate, the Army created Special Attack Force Units called tokkōtai or shimbu-tai – suicide squads made up of the Army and Navy.

Fujii’s favorite motto was: “words and deeds should be consistent.” So after months of telling his students to kill themselves by crashing into the enemy, he wanted to do the same by joining the kamikaze.  Unfortunately for him, he was a victim of his own success. Popular with his students and staff, and having proven his worth in China, the Army refused his request. They also cited the fact that he was a family man, while most of those they sent on one-way missions were single.

Kamikaze

Fukuko also pleaded with him to stay out of the war. He had two young daughters, after all. If he died, what would happen to them?  But as more and more of his students left on suicide missions never to return, Fujii couldn’t shake off the idea that he was betraying his wards. He felt like a hypocrite, which is why he again appealed to the Army to let him die. They refused his second request.

So now Fukuko was trapped. If Fujii stayed in Japan, she’d have her husband, while her daughters would have a father. But he would forever be haunted by his self-perceived betrayal of his students and his country.  He would become a ghost (“dim spirit” in Japanese), only half alive. At best, he’d just fade away. At worst, he’d eventually blame his wife and children for his dishonor.

So on the morning of December 14, 1944, while her husband was away at Kumagaya, Fukuko dressed herself up in her finest kimono. She did the same with three-year-old Kazuko and one-year-old Chieko. Finally, she wrote her husband a letter, urging him to do his duty to the country and not to worry about his family. They’d wait for him.


Then she wrapped Chieko up in a cloth backpack and strapped the baby to her back. Taking Kazuko by the hand, she walked toward the Arakawa River near the school where her husband taught. Taking a rope, she tied Kazuko’s wrist to her own and jumped into the freezing waters.

The police found the bodies later that morning, and Fujii was brought to the spot as they were being laid out. The following evening, he painted a letter to his oldest daughter, begging her to take care of her mother and younger sister till he could join them.

Then he performed yubitsume (cut off his pinky finger). With his own blood, he painted his third appeal to the Army.
On February 8, 1945, Fujii became the commander of the 45th Shinbu Squadron – which he named Kaishin (cheerful spirit). Just before dawn on May 28, the nine planes headed to Okinawa, each carrying a pilot and gunner. To their delight, they came upon the USS Drexler and USS Lowry.

USS Drexler

Two slammed into the Drexler, sinking her within minutes and taking out 158 of its crew. Fuji was in one of them. He was reunited with his family.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Helen Boling – KS & CO; US Army nurse, WWII

Donald Goodbrand – W.Palm Beach, FL; USMC

Wayne ‘Bubba’ Harland – Washington, DC; USMC, Korea & Vietnam

Richard ‘Old Man’ Harrison – Danville, VA; US Navy, Petty Officer 1st Class, USS Chowanoc (Ret. 20 y.) /  “Pawn Stars”

Charlene Kvapil – Middletown, OH; civilian employee US Navy Bureau of Ships, WWII

Stanley Maizey – Cornubia, AUS; Australian Army

Robert Sykes – Rochester, NY; US Navy, WWII / Korea, Chief Engineer, USS Ingraham

Newton Sloat – Concho, OK; US Army, 503rd/11th Airborne Division

Leo ‘Fox’ Stewart – Menagha, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Jane Tomala – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy WREN, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 28, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 243 Comments.

  1. I hate re-reading this story … I can and do identify with these people.

    Sadly, “A man cannot make you love him. He can’t make you like him. But he CAN make you fight him …”

    Like

  2. What I did not understand was the photos of Private Benjamin aka Goldie Hahn. Maybe the icon of Private Benjamin represented the military Karma upon the wife…Those are my takes

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well the training that He was involved in with the choice to show patriotism to his country became his wife’s Karma..no?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Amazing connects of duty and devotion. Karma?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a tragic story! 😥

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What a story, and how perfectly indicative of Japanese national character!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fab story. Very inspiring.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. What a fanatical enemy were the Japanese. During my time as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam (1967-68) things turned nasty between us grunts and the NVA along the DMZ where my battalion operated. It became a “take no prisoners” type warfare practiced by both sides. After so many weeks/months of almost constant contact, we became animals, although still Marines. I believe now the “kill or be killed” attitude was a defense mechanism to help us keep what little sanity we had left. Looking back over the years I wonder and marvel at the brutality it came down to. We were basically “automotons” not really caring whether we lived or died, because in reality we never expected to get out of there alive anyway. I mention all this to show how combat can degrade decent young men into basic savages. It’s a wonder any of us have retained our sanity, or at least a portion of it. Sorry for rambling, but this post triggered something in me, and I felt compelled to try and express it.
    –Michael
    (Former 0311 (Rifleman), PFC/LCPL, Echo Co., 4th Marines, 3rdMarDiv, 1967-68)

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Julia C. Tobey

    This is a stunning story, the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy. Thank you for posting.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Zo’n tragisch verhaal blijft hangen,dit krijg je niet zo maar uit je systeem

    Liked by 2 people

  11. It is a story well-worth the telling; I admire your research and dedication in digging deep to elicit the truth above all; it is the only way for a writer of history. You have proved again and again, to be one of the best.

    War tears apart more than places and human bodies; the scars it leaves may remain throughout eternity and become the stuff of legend.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Reblogged this on History That Interests Me and commented:
    Personal story of a Kamikaze…very interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Unfortunately, war puts a person in completely unpredictable situations and leads to unexpected acts. It is difficult to judge such actions. When you read such stories, you even more understand how ugly the war is, how it distorts human destinies.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. This story is more tragic than Shakespear! And yet, I can’t help but admire the loyalty and dedication!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Beautiful, yet sad and tragic story.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I have read many stories about the culture and mentality of the Japanese so I do understand how it happened
    But I still get upset when I read stories like the way a mother and daughters died.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A tragedy. Plain and simple. And as with most tragedies we find people destroyed from within – by their own hand and convictions.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Such a terrible horrible waste of life, murdering your own children. So is wrong of me to on some level admire their commitment?

    Liked by 3 people

    • No really, Lloyd. You recognize it not only with your 21st Century eyes, but by knowing that other world had a culture totally different than ours and for them, the decision was inevitable.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Dear friend! This ;year has been a tad crazy for me. I have a little memento for you from my trip to Normandy last 4th of July. I am fairly certain I didn’t mail you something last summer did I? It is a gift that is both priceless and also sacred! Can you email me your address, please? anne.t.bell@gmail.com

    Liked by 3 people

    • I have been thinking about you lately. Not only because we have had so few posts from you, but I finally went through, “Polio to Paratrooper”. Outstanding!!

      Like

  20. Woody Storey

    It’s my opinion the reason stories such as this, and the utter cruelty and atrocities the Japanese met out to millions was kept from the Japanese people because it was thought that many thousands of Japanese people would have committed suicide out of shame for what their soldiers were certainly guilty of…and the revisionist history being told is completely wrong…

    Liked by 3 people

    • The “literature” that is the basis of the academic research paper, that is the forge. That is propaganda and brainwashing.

      Disadvantageous to China is deleted and remake “a history Forgery”, again and again.Everyone knows that the Tiananmen incident is deleted. For a history forgery, China do propaganda using a book, a movie, a museum, the media, education etc..For a history forgery, China do propaganda using a book, a movie, a museum, the media, education etc.

      Like

  21. that’s such a sad story!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. It’s a moving and timeless story of people who did their duty as they saw it. To attempt further comment from a modern western perspective really adds nothing. Thanks for writing it.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. My old blog has been hijacked.Please do not go there any more.
    My new blog address
    https://deplorablesunite.wordpress.com

    Liked by 3 people

  24. What an amazing – and tragic – story …

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Tragic that fanatic loyalty to a cause can override family values and plain common sense. The undoubted heroism has a basis of folly and futility.

    Like

  26. What a sad story…of honor. One that only war can bring about.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. if only that energy
    & commitment
    was put into
    supporting beauty & life
    rather than destroying
    oneself & others 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Entirely unrelated to this post: I just finished Raptor Red which you recommended. What a great book. It really brought to light how smart raptors were for their time.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Thank you for connecting, Michael.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Okinawa Kamikaze story — Pacific Paratrooper – Michael D. Turashoff

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