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Ian Scotto Co-Host & Producer of SOFREP Radio Producer of The Power of Thought – podcast

Here is the Link to Jerry Yellin’s interview – podcast

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-13-jerry-yellin-wwii-fighter-pilot/id1263228612?i=1000393797828&mt=2

 

The last mission arrives in Fairfield

Jerry Yellin, left, and Susan Marella, right, share memories and page through photos and clippings of Marella’s father, Eugene O’Brien. Like Yellin, O’Brien was in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific in World War II.

Matt Milner – Ottumwa Courier

FAIRFIELD — When people think about the end of World War II, they tend to think about the grand events. VE Day. The atomic bombs. The surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

Few think of a young captain flying on Aug. 14, 1945. Jerry Yellin took off from Iwo Jima for an attack on Tokyo with wingman Phillip Schlamberg. By the time Yellin landed the war was over, and Schlamberg was the final American combat death.

“I gave him a thumbs up, he gave me a thumbs up,” Yellin said, and they turned for home. Schlamberg didn’t make it back.

The war ended that day, but it stayed with Yelin for 30 more years. Now 93, he was in Fairfield on Saturday to tell his story.

The years have been kind to Yellin physically. He has a piercing gaze and a firm handshake. He has the National D-Day Golf Tournament to play in later this month. The annual Army-Navy football game in December is on the schedule, too.

That’s now. The decades after the fighting ended were hard. Yellin had what would now be recognized as post traumatic stress disorder. Brought up on the injunction “Thou shalt not kill,” Yellin had done just that and been rewarded for doing so.

“Anybody that comes home and talks about what they did, killing people, you just can’t do that,” he said. “It was impossible for me to live with myself.”

To Yellin, killing people is evil. But that’s what war is. And the United States was faced with truly evil regimes that had to be stopped. But that doesn’t mean he believes anyone should revel in the necessity of killing people.

Yellin’s visit was less a speech or lecture than a reunion. He chatted with people, answered questions. He signed every copy of “The Last Fighter Pilot,” a book Dan Brown wrote with and about him, placed in front of him.

It was a place for memories for everyone, including those who came to hear Yellin. Susan Marella’s father, Eugene O’Brien, was in the Pacific theater at the same time. The parallels were striking. “I thought they could have been in the same squadron,” she said.

They weren’t. But Yellin remembers playing golf at the very same course Marella’s father played on. Together they paged through a book with clippings and photos of O’Brien. Yellin pulled up a photo of himself on his smartphone, one taken during the war.

Like Yellin, O’Brien didn’t talk about the war much in the decades after it ended. A large group of his friends from school died in a plane crash after enlistment. It was a flight that, except for fate, O’Brien himself might well have been on. The stories came late in O’Brien’s life.

“He was starting to talk about the loss of it, the loss of his friends from high school,” Marella said.

That makes sense to Yellin. It’s easy to learn about the major battles or the leading generals from articles and films taken during the war or shortly thereafter. Stories about the men waited as the veterans themselves worked out how to tell them.

Now, it’s time. It’s duty.

“I feel obligated that it’s told properly,” Yellin said.

Now, 72 years later, it’s time.

 

featured in PEOPLE – WWII Fighter Pilot Finds ‘Family’ with Japanese Kamikaze Pilot After Their Kids Fall in Love: ‘We Are All Human’

 

As a member of the 78th fighter squadron during World War II, former Army Air Corps Captain Jerry Yellin flew combat missions in the Pacific, including Iwo Jima — one of the deadliest battles in the war. He shot down airplanes and attacked people on the ground.

“Killing was not something I was raised to do, but we had a ferocious enemy trying to destroy us,” Yellin, 93, tells PEOPLE. “Never once did I think of the people on the ground as people. They were Japanese — they attacked Pearl Harbor, they did atrocious things to prisoners of war

“They weren’t human beings to us.”

So “never in a million years” did Yellin expect to love a Japanese kamikaze pilot like a brother — or welcome him into his family.

Almost 53 after the war ended, Yellin’s hatred turned to love when his son, Robert Yellin, married a Japanese woman — the daughter of a WWII kamikaze pilot

In Yellin’s new book The Last Fighter Pilot, co-author Don Brown describes the veteran’s emotional WWII experience and his journey to love his new Japanese family.

“Jerry would learn to love, respect, and commune with the very people that he had once, with all of his might, tried to kill, and who had taken the lives of the fellow airmen closest to him,” Brown writes in the epilogue.

Yellin — a flying enthusiast from Hillside, New Jersey — enlisted on his 18th birthday in February of 1942. Three years later, he flew the final WWII combat mission in Japan on an attack on airfields near Tokyo. Yellin’s wingman and good friend, Phillip Schlamberg of New York, was the last man killed in a combat mission.

“History sometimes serves fascinating slices of irony,” Yellin writes in the book. “With the news emerging in 1945 of the Nazi atrocities against Jews half a world away, how ironic that the war’s final mission would be flown by a couple of Jewish pilots from New York and New Jersey, and that the final combat life in the defense of freedom would be laid down by a teenage Jewish fighter pilot who had not yet learned to even drive a car.”

After years spent suffering from PTSD, Yellin returned to Japan with his wife, Helene, in 1983 for the first time since the war.

“I was blown away,” he says. “It brought back a lot of memories and I could picture the bombs dropping everywhere, it was hard, but we had incredible experiences with the people and food and scenery.”

Later that year, the couple treated their youngest son, Robert, to a trip to Japan. He loved it so much, that he returned in 1984 as an English teacher. During his stay he met and fell in love with his future wife.

Yellin visited Japan in 1987 to meet Robert’s then-fiancée Takako Yamakawa, the daughter of Taro and Hatsue Yamakawa. 

“But her parents wouldn’t meet me,” recalls Yellin. “Taro was a kamikaze pilot and hated Americans as much as I had hated the Japanese.”

It took seven months for Taro to agree to meet Robert. During their first interaction, he asked Yellin’s son five questions.

“He asked what I flew in the war,” says Yellin. “When he found out I flew a P-51, he said that anyone who flew that was a brave man— and that he would be proud to have the blood of that man flow in his grandchildren.”

At Robert and Takako’s 1988 nuptials, the two men agreed to finally meet.

“A few days after the wedding, we went with a translator to a hot bath and spoke about our wartime experiences, spiritual beliefs and education,” says Yellin. “We talked for four hours and he said he never knew there was someone else in the world that felt the way he did about life. “From that moment on we bonded and became close, close family.”

The Yellins returned to Japan every year to visit their son and his in-laws — even after Robert and Takako divorced.

“Sadly, Taro passed away three years ago,” says Yellin. “I miss him every day.”

Their friendship now lives on through the three grandchildren they share.

“I went from thinking a group of people were my enemy to finding my best friend,” says Yellin. “It’s a lesson to remember that at the end of the day we are all human and have so much love to give.”

WWII Fighter Pilot Finds ‘Family’ with Japanese Kamikaze Pilot After Their Kids Fall in Love: ‘We Are All Human’

 

“WWII’s ‘last fighter pilot’ relives fateful flight and the PTSD that followed” New York Post

On April 7, 1945, five months before the end of World War II, Capt. Jerry Yellin and his squadron flew over Japan and bombed it, lighting up “a big square of fire” 15,000 feet below.

“Little fires became big fires, and it never occurred to me, ever, that there were human beings on the ground,” says Yellin, 93, speaking to The Post in the run-up to Memorial Day.

“They were Japanese. They were terrible people. They did horrific things in China, and I saw horrific things done in Iwo Jima to dead Marines — faces bashed in to get gold out of their teeth. They just were not human beings to me then.”

Click the link for full article: WWII’s ‘last fighter pilot’ relives fateful flight — and the PTSD that followed

“If you wanna stop war everybody would go to war naked,” he says. “Then nobody would know who to shoot.” -Captain (ret) Jerry Yellin to the New York Post

 

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Honor Flight includes Jerry Yellin, pilot of final WWII mission

Wednesday’s trip was Yellin’s first Honor Flight to visit memorials in Washington, D.C., although the resident of Fairfield, Iowa, had seen them several times before. The group departed from the Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing and Fort Wayne International Airport, which began its life as a military air base during WWII.

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Please click the link below to view the video and full article:

Honor Flight Includes Captain Jerry Yellin

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Centuries-old bonsai that survived atomic bomb gets honored 70 years later

Centuries-old bonsai that survived atomic bomb gets honored 70 years later

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Remembering Taro Yamakawa

I awakened quite early after a restless night thinking about today’s activities. It isn’t every day that one is scheduled to visit a family cemetery in a foreign country to pay your respects to a former enemy who became a dear friend and a grandfather to my son Robert’s children, Kentaro, Simon and Sara.

Kaz Ohno, an English speaking journalist employed by Fuji TV picked me up at 9, Louisa Merino and Riley Morton arrived almost at the same time. Louisa is a documentary maker from Fairfield, Iowa where I live.  Riley is  a photographer  from Seattle who will work his camera magic at the planned ceremony.
We loaded their film equipment into the trunk of Kaz’s rental car and headed towards a small Temple in Tokyo where members of the of the Yamakawa family have been buried for generations. Taro had passed away in 2012 at the age of 87. Sara would meet us there at 9:45.
The Temple was in a neighborhood of small, two and three story homes and apartments on a very narrow road. Two cars could not pass each other without one stopping and juggling for space. Kaz struggled backing into the allotted parking space off of the street after the three of us got out of the car.
We were the first to arrive. I walked quietly into the open door of a waiting room and felt the silence of the interior. It always amazes me that such an orderly feeling can exist in such a bustling area of active people.
Mr. Ishida of Fuji TV and his crew arrived on schedule. Sara was on time too. The two of us walked ahead of the TV people, Sara carried a large wooden bucket of water and a long handled wooden ladle. I held a metal container of wrapped stems of burning incense. We walked the narrow path through the shrines to the rear of the Temple grounds and stopped and stood in front of Taro’s family burial place.
Sara and I stood silently facing the Japanese inscription. She was handed a bouquet of flowers and she placed them in a container, bowed slightly, placed her hands together and remained still. I followed her every gesture. After a few moments of silence she pulled a ladle full of water out of the bucket and slowly spilled the water onto the marble levels of the shrine. She nodded to me and I repeated what she had done. Then we each placed one the burning incense rolls into the slots on the base of the grave marker. We remained silent and prayer like for several minutes. Tears slowly welled in her eyes. I too felt the love of her grandfather and my friend, Taro Yamakawa.

In prayer & remembrance.

Events

ARMY – NAVY Game December 9th, 2017 Philadelphia, PA

Jerry Yellin and Woody Williams (Iwo Jima) will be recognized at half time during the Army vs. Navy game Saturday December 9, 2017 2:00 pm on CBS
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Black Knights vs. Midshipmen Football Game

There may be no game in college football as important to the two competing universities as Army-Navy, and Army Black Knights vs Navy Midshipmen tickets are highly sought after by fans, alumni, and students at both universities. The Army vs Navy game has been the embodiment of inter-service rivalry for over 100 years and has an atmosphere that is unlike any other game in college football. The game serves as a sendoff for the seniors from both West Point and Annapolis, and the students from both universities come adorned in their branches military garb.

The first Army-Navy game was played in 1890, and has been played annually since, with an exception of 10 years. The winner of the game is awarded the Thompson Trophy, as well as gains valuable points towards the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. While every game on the Black Knights and Midshipmen’s schedule is important, the success of the season comes down to which one wins the Army-Navy game.