|Died||25 Oct 1944|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Yukio Seki was born in Iyo Saijo, Shikoku, Japan. In 1938, he was accepted into both the Navy and the Army's academies, and he opted to join the Navy. He graduated from Eta Jima in Nov 1941. His early career saw him aboard battleship Fuso and seaplane carrier Chitose; aboard the latter he played a very minor role in the Battle of Midway. In 1942, he enrolled in the Naval flying academy in Kasumigaura, Ibaraki, Japan, and then trained as a carrier dive bomber pilot. In Jan 1944, he became an instructor at Kasumigaura. In Sep 1944, he was transferred to Tainan, Taiwan then in Oct 1944 to the 201st Air Group in the Philippines.
At Philippines, Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi authorized the transformation of the occasional suicide fighter attacks by dying pilots into a massed campaign. The first kamikaze mission was called during the Oct 1944 Battle off Samar during the Leyte Campaign. He was approached by Commander Asaichi Tamai, who asked him
"You absolutely must let me do it", he answered after a couple of seconds, and it touched Tamai. However, Seki was later quoted in saying "Japan's future is bleak if it is forced to kill one of its best pilots. I am not going on this mission for the Emperor or for the Empire... I am going because I was ordered to!" On 20 Oct 1944, Seki cut a small strand of his hair and gave it to Tamai to bring home to his parents; it was a tradition of Japanese warriors who wished to send something for their families to remember them by. Several days and several unsuccessful kamikaze missions passed before Seki's Shikishima special attack squadron of Zero fighters found their target. Prior to the attack, some of his comrades noted that Seki would seek all opportunities to drop his bomb before considering a suicide attack. When Chief Warrant Officer Hiroyoshi Nishizawa returned from battle, he reported that Seki's fighter was the first to attack at 1045 (American reports put his attack at 1051), immediately followed by another suicide attack at the same spot. Flames rose 1,000 meters in the air, recalled Nishizawa. Whether Seki actually plunged into the American carrier St. Lo as a kamikaze is still unknown today, but his 250-kilogram bomb undoubtedly played a critical part in the sinking of the American ship.
Sources: the Divine Wind, Wikipedia.
Yukio Seki Timeline
|25 Oct 1944||During the first major special attack conducted by the Japanese Navy, pilot Yukio Seki sank carrier USS St. Lo while another suicide pilot damaged carrier USS Santee.|
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944