Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Sunao "Phil" Ishio Interview
Narrator: Sunao "Phil" Ishio
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: November 7, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-isunao-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

gky: When you were in battle sometimes, and you had kamikaze pilots coming at you, what would you think about, because you could be the next person to die? What would you think when you looked up in the sky and you saw all these pilots coming at you?

SI: Yeah, well, it is, it is very unnerving. From Hilandia, they formed one of the biggest convoys, I was on that, going into Leyte with the 6th Army, so as far as you could see there was ships. About the second or third day we were out, you could see the kamikaze planes. They sort of go round and round in circles. I always stayed on deck, and every once in a while one of them would drop down, and you'd wonder whether it was going to hit you because you can't tell which way it's going to turn. And when they drop into the sea, they say, oh, they felt relieved. But, incidentally, when I told this story to a military historian, he said, "Well, they couldn't have been kamikaze planes." I said, "Well, I don't know what they were; they weren't flies." He said, "Yeah, but the Japanese airfields were all plastered up in the Philippines, so I don't know where would the planes come from." I said, "I don't care where they came from, they were up there." So he still doesn't believe that there were any kamikaze planes up there.

gky: How do you tell a kamikaze plane from other kinds of planes?

SI: Well, you know what the purpose of the kamikaze plane is.

gky: Why don't you tell me.

SI: Well, these are suicide pilots who will ram the plane, the planes are full of bombs, ram the plane against the ship and blow it up. That's the mission. So when they take off from their base, they drink the last cup of sake. As a matter of fact, there's fellow named Hasegawa, I may have told you this, who was a navy kamikaze pilot. He was shot down there at Okinawa, he was saved by one of the destroyers at...

gky: Callaghan.

SI: Callaghan. That was the name of the destroyer. And he was so impressed that he is the head of a very large company in Japan. But what he did was organize an exchange program for young people, the Americans in Japan, there'd be about three exchanges. The last one was this summer. They had the exchange, you know, where the navy museum is on Pennsylvania Avenue? They have a navy statue there. Well, they have a big auditorium. That's where they had the program, exchange students. About six American students go to Japan and about six Japanese students come here. This guy wrote his story as being a kamikaze pilot, and he gave me a copy of that with pictures and everything. The ceremony they have before they go out, this is their final flight. So I have a pretty good idea, you know, at least from the Japanese navy point of view. Of course, the books that I've read, they were going to play a very major part, the kamikaze pilots, because they would have the, Kyushu, southern part of Kyushu. They have about ten or twenty divisions there, plus these pilots.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.