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Fri, Dec 29, 2017

Gone West: P-51 Pilot Jerry Yellin

Flew The Last Combat Mission Of WWII

Jerome "Jerry" Yellin, who had the distinction of leading the last aerial combat mission against Japan in WWII, has gone west at the age of 93.

According to a report from the New York Times, Yellin joined the Army Air Corps in February 1942 on his 18th birthday. He went on to become a fighter pilot, flying P-51 Mustangs.

Yellin was the leader of a four-ship formation flying out of Iwo Jima to attack targets in Japan on August 15, 1945 when Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's surrender following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The word was to have gone out to all aircraft via a coded message, but Yellin said that for some reason his group did not receive the cease-fire message. He did not learn that the war had ended during his attack until he returned to Iwo Jima some three hours later.

Yellin's son said that he Thursday in Florida.

Yellin flew 19 missions over Japan. On that final raid, he lost his wingman, 19-year-old Lt. Philip Schlamberg. He did not emerge from a cloud bank that they entered on the east coast of Japan as they returned to Iwo Jima. Yellin said he believed Lt. Schlamberg was shot down by anti-aircraft fire.

Yellin was discharged from the military in December 1945 with the rank of Captain. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

According to the report, Yellin suffered from PTSD after returning from the war. He had a difficult time holding a job, and said in an interview at the Library of Congress that he was very depressed. At the urging of his wife, he embraced transcendental meditation, which he said helped him lead a productive life.

Yellin's biography "The Last Fighter Pilot" was written by Don Brown with Yellin's collaboration. It was published earlier this year.

(Public Domain image of Yellin's Mustang "Dorrie R")

FMI: Original Report

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