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Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service. Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives. Skip to content Donate Account. Kamikaze Kamikaze attacks were a Japanese suicide bombing tactic designed to destroy enemy warships during World War II.
Photograph courtesy U. Background Info Vocabulary. On October 25, , the Empire of Japan employ ed kamikaze suicide bombers for the first time. The tactic was part of the ferocious Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history, which took place in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines. Hidden beneath the greenery and school buildings of Keio University's Hiyoshi campus in Yokohama is the former command center of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet. Frank R. Klinger, now 89, was only 18 when he was instructed to go tell the men smoking cigars topside on the USS Phoenix to cut it out.
He didn't know it was Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Klinger survived that encounter and the rest of WWII. His girlfriend Kyoko was married off to another man and died from tuberculosis six months later; his beloved older brother Tatsu died in the war. Uehara watched in horror as his country burned from the spreading embers of totalitarianism and authoritarianism — and knew he would soon be engulfed by that fire as well. Uehara, 22, sortied from Chiran Air Base on the southern tip of the Japanese mainland island of Kyushu on May 11, He died later that day while attacking Allied forces near Kadena, Okinawa, as a kamikaze pilot.
More than a half century before al-Qaida and the Islamic State, the kamikazes were the suicide bombers of their time, young men trained for one-way missions to steer their bomb-laden aircraft into American warships in a desperate move to defend their homeland and stave off defeat.
Between October and August , about 2, kamikaze pilots sank dozens of allied ships, damaged hundreds more and killed 4, American sailors — more than the U. Although the attacks failed to stem the American advance, they terrified Allied troops who faced a weapon they had not seen during the long years of war. Unlike most of his comrades, Uehara is widely known in Japan for the letters he left behind, one sent to his parents through military censors and another left with a trusted public affairs officer.
The fact that my belief was correct may be horrifying to my country but it is a joy to me … People may call me a liberal, but it is clear that freedom will triumph. You cannot destroy freedom, the true nature of a human being. The U. However, many of these first suicide bombers were impressionable, frightened teenagers or college-age young men who joined as pilots but were then forced into the suicide corps.
He was sent to Kumagaya Army Aviation School as a special apprentice when he, along with hundreds of others, received orders in March for a special attack mission. In all, 1, army kamikaze pilots, of whom took off from Chiran Air Base, died in the Battle of Okinawa. Uehara left several letters for loved ones before he died. Then the tone shifted. It pleases me to think that, even if they are not to be defeated in the near future, they may be turned to dust anyway through an explosion of the globe itself.
I fly out tomorrow. A liberal will vanish from this earth.
On May 10, , Uehara and his fellow pilots likely walked to the Tomiya restaurant for their last meal, perhaps saying goodbye to proprietor and surrogate mother Tome Torihama, a beloved national figure in Japan. On the morning of their flight, they went to the nearby airfield, drank a glass of liquor and waved to locals who came to see them off.
They got into their bombers — many with just enough fuel to reach their objective — with a bomb on one side of the plane and a fuel tank on the other.
The engines started, and the planes lurched forward for takeoff, soaring past Mount Kaimon, followed by two hours over the greenish blue of the open ocean. Most were cut to pieces. Some found their mark when cloud cover masked their approach. It is unclear if Uehara hit his target, but it is unlikely. The Kamikaze were viewed heroically at the time, just as every Japanese soldier was. However, after the war, they were vilified. They became almost a symbol of the war mongering that led Japan down the path to destruction. Today, thanks to the efforts of Torihama, they are viewed sympathetically for the most part.
However, we cannot let the memory of the war vanish.
War is a cruel and senseless act. I believe that our efforts will contribute to the ability of human beings to make a step forward to build lasting world peace. Seventy years on, it is easy to malign the kamikaze pilots; however, many, like Uehara, were unable to outrun their fate.
Many were just children, taken advantage of, who did not want to die. I was in love with you but you were already engaged to marry someone else. My heart was in agony, but when I thought of your happiness, I decided not to whisper the words of love to you.
All the same, however, I will always love you. The Stars and Stripes published over 30 editions during the course of WWII, advancing with the Allied forces, establishing new editions and shutting down earlier ones as the front lines progressed. Half-starved survivors eked out a bare existence without food, heat, shelter and hope. Seventy years later, Germany has risen to the economic powerhouse of Europe. As the Allies swept deep into German-occupied territory, they discovered the most terrible secret of the Third Reich— the vast network of slave labor and extermination camps at the heart of what came to be known as the Holocaust.
It came out of nowhere on Dec. It would end almost four years later, in an equally stunning fashion. When the air-raid alarms sounded, people hid in the shelters. They ran for the caves dug into the mountains. But there were never enough hiding places from the Japanese bombs, and not enough for Chen Guifang's parents.