Army Air Corps fighter pilot Jerry Yellin (February 15, 1924-December 21, 2017) flew the last combat mission of World War II. Taking off from Iwo Jima on August 15, 1945 in his P-51 Mustang, he attacked airfields near Nagoya, before heading back to base, his wingman Phillip Schlamberg lost and presumed dead. It was only then that Yellin learned Emperor Hirohito had announced his nation’s surrender hours earlier following the United States’ two atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After the war, Yellin had difficulty fitting back into civilian life, and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He would find peace in the 1970s after becoming an adherent of Transcendental Meditation, while the marriage of his youngest son to the daughter of a Japanese kamikaze pilot would take him, he wrote, “from hatred to love.” An author of four books, Yellin toured extensively to bring hope to veterans suffering from PTSD, and to heal wounds brought by war.
CREDIT: Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow/U.S. Air Force