Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Oldest Japanese Zero Ace Passes Away

With sadness, we regret that inform you that Mr. Kaname Harada the world's oldest Japanese Naval Fighter Ace has passed away at the age of 99. He is best known in the west through his interviews with author Dan King who chronicled his wartime experiences in his book The Last Zero Fighter  for whom King had named the book in his honor. 
During WWII, Lt.J.G.(Lieutenant Junior Grade) Harada participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal and many others. He is credited with 9 Kills and 10 shared aerial victories. 
After the war, he founded an award winning pre-school in Nagano. In more recent times he had been an outspoken critic of the recent military buildup by the government of Shinzo Abe. But people who knew him best like Dan King would like us to remember Mr. Harada as a kind and gentle man whose wisdom was not lost on those who would listen to his tales of his tragic generation. Like many men who have seen the horrors of war, Harada suffered from PTSD and would speak of his nightmares. One could only imagine what survivors guilt he must have endured after the wars end. And like my father's Vietnam Generation, the surviving servicemen were blamed by the very people they fought to protect for the war itself. What indignity!
We are fortunate that Dan King (seen in the above photo with Harada) was able to tell his story to dispel such myths of Japanese Servicemen chanting nationalistic slogans in their final moments were not true. More to the contrary their last words were often for their wives and mothers like anyone else at death's door. Harada had long painfully carried the memory of the dead. Now he has left this earth to rejoin his Squadron in heaven. May he find the peace his generation was tragically denied. And further that his story, spirit, and wish for lasting peace and harmony live on for generations to come!
さよなら はらださん! さよなら!

To read more about Mr. Harada, please read Dan King's book:
The Last Zero Fighter 

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