Captain Jerry Yellin, American fighter pilot, flew the final combat mission of WWII in targeting a military-airfield near Tokyo on August 14, 1945.
Yellin had enlisted in the United States Army Air Force on his 18th birthday, February 2, 1942, following Japan’s devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. After his graduation from Luke Air Field as a fighter pilot in August of 1943, he would spend the remainder of the war flying P-40, P-47 and P-51 combat missions in the Pacific Theater with the 78th Fighter Squadron.
Subsequently, upon Emperor Hirohito’s refusal two years later to surrender following the August 9, 1945 atomic-bomb drop on Nagasaki, Captain Yellin and their 16-plane squadron flew a combat mission over the Japanese city of Nagoya on August 14th. Upon landing on Iwo Jima, eight hours later, they learned the war had ended and their final combat mission had been flown. While in the air, news of the unconditional surrender by Japan had failed to reach the pilots and the order to abort was never received. On this final flight, Yellin’s wing-man, Phillip Schlamberg, would be the last man killed in combat in WWII.
Having lost 16 fellow servicemen, Captain Yellin struggled in the postwar world but would become an advocate for vets suffering from PTSD. With his co-founding of the organization, Operation Warrior Shield, he dedicated his efforts in later years toward veterans and first responders in overcoming their post-traumatic stress disorder.
In Gratitude for your Service
February 15, 1924 – December 21, 2017