Monday, September 21, 2009
Jerry Yellin Writes About His Iwo Jima Experience
Military Writers Society of America (www.militarywriters.com) member Jerry Yellin has an essay that is a finalist in the society’s People’s Choice Award – “Iwo Jima, August 14, 1945.”
The above video is of Jerry Yellin reading his story – and you can vote for his story on the society's website.
Here’s an email he sent me and gave his permission to include here:
On March 7, 1945, I landed my P-51 on Iwo Jima after the Marines cleared the area around a dirt air strip. For the next month we strafed the island for the Marines.
On April 7, 1945, I was one of 16 pilots of the 78th Fighter Squadron to fly the first VLR -- Very Long Range -- mission over Japan. We escorted B-29s over Tokyo and watched as they dropped incendiary bombs on the city. Not once did it occur to me that there were people on the ground. They were Japs, my enemy, not really human beings.
I made 19 missions over Japan, lost 16 good friends whom I flew with, and carried a hatred for Japan, her people, her culture until March 6, 1988, when I attended the wedding of my youngest son, Robert, to the daughter of a member of the Japanese Imperial Air Force from WW2. Her father, Taro Yamakawa, hated me and I hated him. Now we have three grandchildren ages 20, 18 and 13 who live in Japan.
Last year I attended a ceremony in Japan conducted by Dr. Hiroya Sugano since 1972 honoring the lives of 23 American airmen who were killed over Japan in a mid-air collision of their B-29s. A charred and scarred canteen with the hand print of the American who was holding it is embedded on the canteen. Dr. Sugano uses that canteen in the ceremony.
This is a tape of the 2008 ceremony photographed by American Air Force personnel from Yokota Air Base.
Dr. Sugano has invited me to go to Iwo Jima on March 18, 2010, to use the canteen in a memorial service for those who were killed on Iwo 65 years ago - 7,000 Americans and 21,000 Japanese.
He, like me, has an interest in preserving peace on our planet for the young people in our lives. His daughter is married to a West Point graduate and he has American grandchildren just as I have Japanese grandchildren.
I have written two books about my experience in the war: Of Wars & Weddings and The Blackened Canteen. Yoko Ono has written a beautiful passage on my website about the message contained in The Blackened Canteen -- www.jerryyellin.com/
Both books talk about the healing experience I have undergone. For us old veterans of wars, and for any veterans of a war, my story will strike a deep cord in their hearts.
Note: The Amazon links are affiliate links.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. She is also an Internet business consultant and the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio show YourMilitaryLife.com.
Phyllis' company provides Internet marketing training as well as social media marketing to promote your business more effectively.
Visit the site of Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel.