I had the extraordinary pleasure to talk with Captain Jerry Yellin, a 93-year-old World War Two vet who flew the final combat mission in World War Two's Pacific Theatre. Yellin piloted for the 78th Fighter Squadron and was part of the 1945 bombing campaigns that ultimately triggered Japan's surrender.
From April to August of 1945, Yellin and a small group of fellow fighter pilots flew dangerous bombing and strafe missions out of Iwo Jima over Japan. Even days after America dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9, the pilots continued to fly. Though Japan had suffered unimaginable devastation, the emperor still refused to surrender.
Nine days after Hiroshima, on the morning of August 14th, Yellin and his wingman 1st Lieutenant Phillip Schlamberg took off from Iwo Jima to bomb Tokyo. By the time Yellin returned to Iwo Jima, the war was officially over-but his young friend Schlamberg would never get to hear the news.
Yellin joined the war efforts when he was 19 and jumped directly into action. The stench of death, the rain of bullets, and the minute-to-minute fight for survival faced young Captain Jerry Yellin when he landed on Iwo Jima in in 1945. Little did Capt. Yellin know that his life would be turned upside down during a routine flight, which turned out to be the last combat mission of WWII. Flanked by his devoted comrades, Yellin was a flight leader in the final fight for freedom-a mission that will forever leave its mark on the history of the world.
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