After 7 years and some 200 combat missions resulting in an estimated 64 (some sources go as low as 20) kills, Saburo Sakai flew his last one on August 17, 1945. (Japan surrendered August 14, 1945) "I had a chance to combat the B-29 formations, and I must say that their speed and altitude were incredible, and their defensive fire was very accurate and heavy. I assisted in the destruction of one bomber that crashed in the ocean. This mission was launched after we were ordered to stand down and surrender, so it never went into the official records, but the USAF records recorded the loss over Tokyo Bay. Saburo Sakai was indeed an Ace, downing 64 Allied aircraft, and most of all, never losing a wingman in over 200 missions. He experienced injuries, but always brought his aircraft home. After WWII, Sakai’s writings described the cruel reality of war and combat. Starting from his book "Samurai", he kept writing and lecturing on leadership based on his experience. On September 22nd, 2000, he attended a party at the American Atsugi Military base. He had dinner, but felt sick and was taken to the Hospital. During various examinations, Sakai asked the Doctor "May I sleep now?" and his Doctor responded "Yes, you can sleep while we proceed". Saburo Sakai closed his eyes and never opened them again. Japan’s legendary Ace had died at the age of 84.

johnbr, Jul 19, 2011
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