Ricochet – The Last Fighter Pilot

December 23, 2017

In my year-end round up of notable deaths, I noted that not many names of the Greatest Generation were showing up. The few are getting fewer and fewer.

Add to the list the name of Captain Jerome “Jerry” Yellin. On August 14, 1945 — five days after the 2nd atomic bomb drop — Yellin led a two-man raid against a Japanese airfield in P-51 Mustangs. His partner, Phil Schlamberg, did not come back. When Yellin landed back at Iwo Jima he learned that the war was over. While he was in the air Japan had accepted the demand for unconditional surrender. His command was unable to raise him on the radio to stop the mission.

Yellin then went down as the last combat fighter pilot of World War II and Schlamberg the last casualty. Attached to the 78th Fighter Squadron of the USAAF, Yellin lost 16 buddies in the war and struggled in the postwar world. He became an advocate for vets suffering from PTSD in his later years.

He passed yesterday in Orlando at age 93 from lung cancer.

Published in History