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stood straighter as Lieutenant Seki Yukio walked past him. The
world was at war. He knew of the war and its consequences. People
died honorably for their country. His older brothers had died for
Japan, and now it was his turn to fight for his country. After the
battle of Midway, in which his oldest brother, Jiro, had died, the
Japanese navy was utterly destroyed. It was up to the Air Force to
lead the attacks on the US.
had recently been recruited to the Shimpu Tokubetsu Kogekitai, the
Divine Wind Special Attack Corps. It was a small group of pilots
who had the perfect Japanese mentality: they fought for their
country and would die for their country. Gyokusai, the Japanese
suicide attack force, gave him the strength to stand tall every
day and know that someday he would bring great honor to his
walked with the other pilots to the meeting hall. There they were
briefed on the new assignment that would commence in five days.
Yukio would lead nine Zero fighters loaded with explosives to
attack the American battleships Santee, Petrof Bay, Sangamon,
Suwanee, St. Lo, and the Kalinin Bay in the Leyte Gulf. All these
vessels were part of an American attack force that numbered 216
vessels. Koji cheered with the other pilots when the Lieutenant
chose him to fight in the attack.
days later, Koji walked to his plane. He was ready. The country
finally needed his help. He was finally important in his family.
After living under the shadow of five older brothers, he would be
the one to bring glory to his family. Koji pushed his hair out of
his eyes and looked up at the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter that he
would be flying in. The single-seat plane was small and fast, and
he could drop a bomb onto any target he chose. However, he had
been given a target. Koji and Sergeant Keiko were to bomb the
American battleship Santee. If he ran out of ammunition he was to
drive his plane into the deck of the ship.
grabbed his helmet and walked up the steps to board his plane.
Keiichi, his friend and companion since he was a small boy, had
joined the Air Force with Koji. They were both recruited to the
Shimpu Tokubetsu Kogekitai. Keiichi wasn’t going on the raid,
but he was there to see Koji off.
went up to Koji when the man was stepping inside his plane.
“Good luck my friend. Bring your family honor.”
nodded. “Thank you. May you bring honor to your family soon.”
The men hugged and Keiichi went to stand away from the plane.
boarded his plane, started the engines, and waited for the order
to take off. The air had to be clear. He knew that the attack
might be easy or hard; it depended on the American reaction to the
ground attack. The Japanese were launching two attacks at the same
time. Ground forces were going to attack 120 miles north of Leyte
Gulf, and if the Americans reacted as they usually did, they would
launch planes from the ships to attack the ground forces.
orders came. He pulled the plane onto the landing strip and
started moving forward. The plane’s speed picked up and soon it
leapt off the ground. Koji brought the A6M high in the air and
flew into the formation with the eight other Zero fighters. They
soared over the land and water, flying fast, and soon they came
upon the Leyte Gulf.
battleships were ranged out across the water, but Koji located
Santee and flew towards it. He saw five Avenger and eight Wildcat
aircrafts take off to attack the ground forces. It was 7:36 in the
he was sighted, and the ships turned their guns on him. He dipped
and turned trying to avoid the bullets raining past him. He calmed
his mind. If he was to do his job he needed to concentrate. He had
to hit the bridge of the ship to cause the most damage. He flipped
over to avoid a missile and dropped down to find a better route to
the ship. He shot his guns at the men on deck, and then circled
around shooting his guns.
was one of the lucky ones. In his plane he couldn’t hear the
screams of the dying. He couldn’t hear the dull thud of the
bullet entering the human body. He heard no sounds of the bullets
ricocheting off of the ship and hitting men. He saw no blood of
the Americans as it spread over the ship and in the water. He
heard only the ripping of the bullets as they left his guns and
sped to the ship below, and he heard the static of his radio. He
saw only the ship below him. His target. The path to the glory of
his family. Keiko contacted him. “We are nearing the targeted
area. You may drop in first.”
nodded and replied his affirmative response. He dropped his plane
down, and immediately a hard volley of bullets hit him. His right
wing was torn through and he lost control of the plane.
tried with all his might to regain the control of the plane, but
he couldn’t. Thoughts started to run through his mind. He was
going to die. And if he didn’t die then he would be shamed, as
would his family. If he didn’t die he would be forced to
surrender to the Americans. That was not an option. He had to die
for his country. That was his duty. Wasn’t it? All he had to do
was to drop his plane into the ship and let the bomb do it’s
job. Koji pushed the thought of his death away and looked out the
windshield. His plane was plunging straight towards the flight
deck. He thought about releasing his 63-kilogram bomb, but changed
his mind. He would die in the explosion when the plane crashed.
plane spiraled down and hit the flight deck, and Koji felt the
jolt of the plane crashing into the ship. He heard the grinding of
the metal as the ship and plane ripped at each other. Koji gasped
as he was crushed in the small metal aircraft. He closed his eyes
and thought of the family he was leaving behind. His mother would
find comfort in his honorable death. His father would nod and
never speak of his sixth son again. His little brother and three
sisters would miss him but never express that pain to their
parents. His wife would never speak out against him. They had only
been married for a short time. She would mourn and then remarry a
different man. Koji suddenly lost all of his nerve. He shuddered
and tried to move in his plane. The A6M stopped abruptly. He
looked to the crushed window and looked out. He was on the hanger
deck. It was 7:40 in the morning.
bomb did not explode as he had planned. He sat in the A6M waiting
for the explosion to take him to the afterlife, to take him away
from the war and the fighting. Koji knew that the bomb wasn’t
going to explode. He didn’t know how he knew, but he knew.
thought of the war. It was a long and tiresome thing. The people
of the world never had seen eye to eye on everything, and there
was never a time that a war was not going on. The world would
never be in complete peace. He knew that the world was always
changing, but it was always regressing. War was not glorious like
heard the screams of the dying. He heard the dull thud of the
bullet entering the human body. He heard the sounds of the bullets
ricocheting off of the ship and hitting men. He saw the blood of
the Americans as it spread over the ship and in the water. He
didn’t hear the ripping of the bullets as they left his guns and
sped to his target. He saw the ship around him. His target. The
path to the glory of his family. The path to his death and the
loss of many human lives. Koji shuddered and breathed in his last
breath. As the air left his lungs he grasped the picture of his
wife close to his heart. His family would be honored by his death.
They would feel honored that their son had died for their country.
Koji felt no honor. He felt alone and cold. There was no one to
share the warmth of honor with him, the one who brought the honor.
JULIE JORDAN always liked reading books. She ate them up like candy, so it was only natural that she would love to write as well. She hopes to become a psychologist, but these days she can be found hanging out with her friends or busily writing on her computer.