The last kamikaze: two Japanese pilots tell how they cheated death

Hisao Horiyama first learned how he was due to die from a simple slip of white paper. On it were written three options: to volunteer willingly, to simply volunteer, or to say no.

But as a 21-year-old airman caught in the thick of Japan’s faltering war with the allies, he knew there was only one choice. Without hesitation, he agreed to fly his plane into the side of a US warship.

With that one act of destruction, he would end his life and the lives of many others, in the name of his emperor as a member of an elite, and supposedly invincible, group of young men whose sacrifice would deliver victory to Japan: the kamikaze.