|Died||27 May 1945|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseYukio Araki was from Kiryu in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. At the age of 15, he joined the Japanese Army's Youth Pilot Training Program after being rejected into the Navy flight training school. In Sep 1943, he began basic training at Tachiarai Air Base in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Upon graduation, he was assigned to Metabaru Airfield in Saga Prefecture, Japan for flight training. In May 1944, he was assigned to Heijo (now Pyongyang), Korea to join a training squadron flying Ki-51 aircraft (Japanese Army Type 99 Assault Planes). Around Feb 1945, his entire squadron volunteer to make special attacks. In late Mar 1945, the squadron flew to Kakamigahara Airfield in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, where their Ki-51 aircraft were converted into suicide planes. While they waited for the conversion to be complete, their squadron was redesignated 72nd Shinbu Squadron. Meanwhile, Araki took a train to Gunma Prefecture to visit his family one final time (although his older brother Seiichi Araki would see him one more time when he visited Araki at Kakamigahara Airfield a few days later). Upon completion of the aircraft conversion, Araki and the squadron returned to Korea to await orders. After a combat mission over China in Apr 1945, the squadron was ordered to relocate to Japan in the following month. On 27 May 1945, at the age of 17, Araki took off from Bansei Airfield, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan in his Ki-51 aircraft, never to return. His Ki-51 aircraft might had been one of the two which had struck USS Braine off Okinawa, Japan, killing 66 but failing to sink the destroyer.
ww2dbaseWhen Araki was home in Apr 1945, he left letters for his family, to be opened upon the news of his death. The letter to his parents noted:
ww2dbasePlease find pleasure in your desire for my loyalty to the emperor and devotion to parents.
ww2dbaseI have no regrets. I just go forward on my path.
Yukio Araki Timeline
|5 Apr 1945||Yukio Araki visited his home in Gunma Prefecture, Japan for the last time.|
|21 Apr 1945||Yukio Araki engaged American P-51 fighters over China.|
|5 May 1945||Yukio Araki along with the rest of the 72nd Shinbu Squadron was ordered to relocate from the current base at Heijo (now Pyongyang), Korea to Metabaru Airfield in Saga Prefecture, Japan.|
|17 May 1945||Yukio Araki and the 72nd Shinbu Squadron arrived at Metabaru Airfield in Saga Prefecture, Japan.|
|25 May 1945||Yukio Araki and the 72nd Shinbu Squadron was relocated to Bansei Airfield, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.|
|27 May 1945||Corporal Yukio Araki died as a special attack pilot. His Ki-51 aircraft might be one of the two aircraft which crashed into destroyer USS Braine off Okinawa, Japan.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945