I thought I knew, in a general sense, who the Kamikaze pilots were. This tiny slice of my worldview went up in flames when I saw Memoirs of a Kamikaze on the shelf at the main library in Matsumoto, Japan.
On the cover was an image that didn’t fit at all my idea of what a kamikaze fighter would look like. He was just a kid; a child, dressed up like a World War II pilot for Halloween. He was probably too young to get a driver’s license.
This was not the face of a suicide bomber. This was a kid trying to figure out where he was and how he got there, and what the hell was going to happen to him.
His name is Kazuo Odachi. He joined the Imperial Japanese Navy at 16 as a pilot trainee. His story is worth telling.