Ever find yourself deep in thought about the Kamikaze pilots? Yeah, you heard me right. They were the infamous World War II Japanese pilots who willingly hopped into planes packed with explosives and flew them straight into enemy targets.

History tells us it was about honor, duty, and a deep love for their country. But who were these men behind the Kamikazes? How does one get up in the morning, put on their flight gear and decide, ‘Yep, today’s the day I’m flying into a warship’?

We’re about to take a deep dive into their world, peel back the layers, and figure out what made these Kamikaze pilots tick. It might be a bumpy ride, but who doesn’t love a bit of adventure?

The Names and Faces Behind the Kamikaze Pilots

Behind the bravery and undying loyalty to Japan were regular young men with high aspirations. Through their backstories, we learn more about how one brings oneself to become a Kamikaze pilot. 

Yukio Seki: A Kamikaze Pioneer

Yukio Seki is a pretty big deal when it comes to Kamikaze pilots. Why? Because he was one of the first. He was a 23-year-old newlywed, chosen by Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi to lead a mission he wasn’t thrilled about.

Seki on June 30, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In October 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Seki was one of five pilots who volunteered (more likely persuaded) to slam their planes packed with 550-pound bombs into enemy ships. Their target? The Allied fleet off the coast of the Philippines.

Seki led the Special Attack Unit, or as we know it, the Kamikaze. Historical accounts show he wasn’t keen on crashing into ships for greater glory. But he saw it as his duty.

Despite his reservations, Seki climbed into the cockpit of his Mitsubishi Zero on October 25, 1944. He took a deep breath, saluted his fellow soldiers, and took off into the cloudy skies, knowing he’d never return.