By August of 1945 Allied forces had pushed the Japanese back across the Pacific Ocean, to the doorstep of the Japanese home islands. Japan was losing the war. An invasion of the home islands was planned for later in the year, while firebombing raids over Japanese cities continued relentlessly through the long-hot summer. Each raid resulted in immense damage and loss of almost countless lives because Japan’s cities were built almost exclusively of wood and paper; burning in vast fire storms caused by the American incendiary bombs. The Japanese were desperate to stop the bombings. The huge Allied bombers were flying from the Islands of Guam, Saipan and Tinian in the Mariana Island Chain. Therefore, these became a primary target of Japanese forces. Unbeknownst to the Japanese, on July 26, 1945 the U.S.S. Indianapolis, a heavy cruiser, delivered parts for the atomic bomb Little Boy to the Island of Tinian. That same day, the uranium for the bomb was flown to the island from the United States. With all of the pieces on hand, the bomb Little Boy was assembled on July 31, making the bomb ready for use the next day. An approaching typhoon required postponing the planned atomic bomb attack of Hiroshima from Aug. 1 until a new date of Aug. 6. On August 5 Little Boy was loaded onto the B-29 No. 82 the "Enola Gay.” America was prepared to unleash the most destructive weapon in the history of humanity upon is crumbling enemy.
Chapter 1: Let Slip The Dogs of War
“FOR THE EMPEROR!” Lieutenant General Michio Sugahara yells at the top of his lungs in front of 400 of the best trained troops the Japanese Empire has ever produced.
“FOR THE EMPEROR!” we scream back at the top of our lungs; hoping to create a sense of unity and power that will drive us forth to great feats of strength and will.
“BONZAI!” Sugahara belts out, raising both of his arms, and his shimmering samurai sword, to the sky in a thrust that stabs through the heavy August air.
“BONZAI!” we all yell back, flailing our arms skyward in our own slashes at the heavens.
“BONZAI!” the General screams again, launching his arms toward the stars our best pilots are trained to see in the daylight.
“BONZAI!” we scream, our arms catapulting into the clear afternoon sky.
“BONZAI!” the General hoarsely unleashes from deep within his gut with all of his strength, rocketing himself off the ground with an incredibly powerful upward thrust of his arms and sword.
“BONZAI!” we retort with all of our energy, each leaving the ground for a split second. As one we are floating in the air, above the sacred earth of our Empire. We are airborne from sheer excitement brought forth from anticipation of the great feat we will accomplish this day.
We’re actually going to get to go on the mission this time!
The Americans did not destroy our transport planes, as they had last December when we were to attack the airfield on Saipan.
With over 400 planes, based out of airfields stretched from Formosa to mainland Japan, we are far better prepared now than we were in December.
We have over 2,000 well trained and disciplined men, hundreds of expert flight crews, and the divinity of the Emperor with us.
We will destroy all of the enemy planes on Tinian and Saipan, putting an end to the reign of terror American bombers have unleashed upon our suffering families.
A small kimono-clad woman gently glides up to my side, as silent as a cherry blossom petal falling from an ancient cherry tree. She reaches out with both hands holding a white Chrysanthemum blossom. As still as a porcelain doll, she stands there, offering me this sign of imminent death. This bundle of fragile doom offered from the milky-soft hands of a gentle maiden.
To death I go, for the Emperor, for the Japanese Empire!
Turning away from the woman, I quickly march toward the waiting G6M transport plane – a converted bomber painted tan and decorated with Chrysanthemum blossoms will carry my command platoon to the Island of Tinian. The plane, and my unit transported upon its well engineered wings, will crash-land on that little dot of dirt that used to be part of our Empire, delivering ours bodies to a destiny written with the divine wisdom of our Emperor.
The smell of cordite mixing with Chrysanthemum blossoms is nauseating.
My men are armed with our regular kit of rifles, bullets and bayonets, but we are also laden with explosive charges and excess grenades in order to blow up as many enemy bombers as we can find upon our arrival on Tinian.
What glory, to have the responsibility to lead such men on this sacred mission!
Waiting for me with excited eyes and hearts as they stand just in front of a group of transport planes, my regiment is composed of war ravaged faces of veterans from our Empire’s victories across the Pacific. We’ve been together as a unit since late 1936.
Almost nine years of action and training with these men in China, the Philippines, Thailand, New Guinea, and now to the Marianas.
I love these men!
The entire regiment bows toward me in one machine-like motion as I approach.
They are bowing deeper than usual.
Out of respect for these men, I bow past my mid section, so that my head is almost down below my knee line.
Major Hata, my go-to man and confidant, stands at attention between me and the rest of the men.
“Hata-san” I call out. “Let us be the Emperor’s arms.”
“Yes” Hata quickly replies with enthusiasm and a cut of the final sound as if his sword sliced the word before it finished leaving his mouth. He then turns to the rest of the regiment.
“Board the planes! Deliver the Emperor’s blade to America’s throat.” Hata yells out.
In unison, the men scream “Yes!” They then scramble to climb aboard the transports.
Hata sharply turns back to me.
“Colonel, I will see you on Tinian.”
“Hata-san, may the wind carry us to our glory.” I reply.
Hata runs toward a waiting transport with a large red 52 painted on its tail wing. I walk slowly toward another, transport with the number 97 painted upon its tail.
My men must see me calm.
Death is my destiny, I shall savor each moment until it arrives.
As I approach the aircraft Captain Mastuo finishes pushing his nimble body through the side door. This is no easy feat considering the extra weight we are carrying.
At least we are not hauling parachutes too!
Mastuo turns quickly, intending to take his seat. Instead, as he sees me standing at the doorway directly behind him, he reaches out with his right arm. He offers his hand to help me into the plane. With my right arm I grasp below his elbow, pulling against his firm hoist that lifts me into the waiting two-engine transport.
Mastuo has a young son.
I have no children, nor a wife.
How a man with a son has been able to stay in this unit is a testament to Mastuo’s tenacity.
The palpable silence among the men is broken as the pilot powers up the engines. At first they sputter. My heart waits, knowing that aircraft engines often sputter before catching to their resilient hum of operation. A second sputter, a third, then finally the engine catches, purring into life.
We are going to take off!
My eyes catch those of each man on the plane. My men left me the seat of honor next to the door, but I walk the thin aisle between the two rows of sitting men on either side of the aircraft as this lumbering beast taxis toward the runway. Making my way up the right side and down the left toward my seat, I bow before each heavily armed man. In turn, every one of them gives back a quick nod of his head. “Yes!”
Our plane’s engines rev for our final take-off.
We shall not return from this mission for the Emperor.
We will implement his wish upon the Americans.
May we fly, land, fight, and die with the divine wind.