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World War II

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It's an amazing thing that today, 70 odd years later, 73 years later, the memories are so fresh in your mind and so fresh in my mind and people don't know about these things. They just don't know about them. On December 7th I made up my mind I was going to fly fighter planes against the Japanese. I was 17 years old. I was on Iwo Jima — 8 square miles of land. 67,000 Marines fighting against 23,000 Japanese. 90,000 soldiers. And when I landed, with my cockpit open, I smelled the smell of death. That never went away for me. There were 21,000 bodies rotting in the sun, the Japanese, and nearly 7,000 Marines. I flew with 16 guys who didn't come back in my squadron. 5 guys were killed in training accidents in Hawaii. 11 guys were killed in combat. 3 of my wingmen were killed. 3 of my wingmen. It's probably the most memorable, the most precious time of my life, was to be with all the guys protecting me, and I was protecting them, and fighting for my country. I don't regret one moment that I served in the war. The 30 years after, I can't talk about. From 1945 to 1975, I was a basket case. I couldn't work, I couldn't do anything. I didn't speak to my family for 43 years about what I did. They knew 2 things about me. They knew I flew a P-51 over Japan, and they knew that I bailed out of a P-40. And I was asked to go to Japan in 1983. And I thought they were crazy because Japan was not a place I wanted to visit and the Japanese were not human beings I wanted to see. I came home and told my wife I turned down a trip to go to Japan and she pointed her finger at me. "Jerry, you never asked me if I wanted to go to Japan." So in October 1983 I went to Japan. And I was blown away. By what I saw, what I felt. Robert was a senior at San Diego State so we came home, we gave him a trip to Japan. A six week home stay. And in 1984, he went there for 1 year to teach English and now it's 2017, he never came back. He got married to a Japanese woman. whose father was a Kamikaze pilot with 500 guys. He told me he wanted to get married and I said, what does her father say? The father wouldn't meet him. It took 7 months for him, or for her, to convince her father to come and meet my son. And the father didn't talk. And when he did talk, He asked my son 5 questions. "How old's your father?" "63." "Was he in the war?" "Yes." "What did he do?" "He was a pilot." "What did he fly?" "P-51s." "Where?" "Over Japan." And that ended the meeting. And the father went home and said to his wife, "Make the wedding." And she went crazy ballistic, shouting at him— "For 43 years you've been telling me how much you hate the Americans, and now you want OUR daughter to marry this guy Jean, this American, foreigner?" And he said, "Yes." And she said, "Why?" He said, "Any man that could fly a P-51 against the Japanese and live must be a brave man. I want the blood of that man to flow through the veins of our grandchildren.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 49 seconds
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 25
Posted by: nyeatman on Jul 31, 2017

Captain Jerry Yellin (whose story is told in the new book THE LAST FIGHTER PILOT) was a P-51 fighter pilot stationed in Iwo Jima during World War II. He and his 19-year-old wingman Philip Schlamberg flew the very last combat mission of the war, on the day Japan surrendered. Here, he opens up about his war memories and tells an incredible story about his family's encounter with a Japanese Kamikaze pilot.

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