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Warrior 80 Years After Pearl

Jerry Yellin, (February 15, 1924 – December 21, 2017) was the Last Fighter Pilot. Absent God’s grace, we will not see his like again.

[HT: Venlet]

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  • Dirk December 7, 2021, 2:51 PM

    That was when men were steel,,,ships wooden. God bless you sir. Being around WWII vets monthly at VA Reno, it is rare for them to share, who, what, where ,when,why, how.

    These men Truly represent The Greatest Generation!

  • Casey Klahn December 7, 2021, 3:30 PM

    I used to say: ask the WWII vet 2 questions: where were you in the war? What was your job? If you listen actively, but stay 99% shut up, you will begin to hear some things. Look at their eyes. Notice what they don;t say.

    Veterans of WWII, like my father, Kenneth K Klahn, of Forks, WA, always spoke matter-of-factly about the war, always had real (actual) self-modesty, and always had superlative things to say about one another.

    There is not now, and there will not ever be, replacements for these men and a few women, who served in WWII. They didn’t want the war; they very badly did not want the war. So much so, that they found themselves running headlong into the war very badly prepared for it. If you told a guy to jump on a burning fuel tank, he did it. If you told him to jump into water over his head, laden with a combat load in excess of 60 lbs, he did it. As a matter of fact, many of the guys in combat would go forward as fast and as aggressively as they were able to, all with thoughts of ending the war by winning it and also thoughts of the acts that you do today will save the lives of other men either days, months or years down the road. They threw their lives away like you might toss a flower into water.

    It sounds like I’m glorifying the stories, but tell that to Cpt. Yellin, in the video, whose squadron mates died flying small planes fast in combat. There is an ex-pat American, in Italy, writing my dad’s story of narrowly missing death on the day that the famous Col. Bill Darby bought it in the same town . His unit was going balls to the wall to intercept the Germans as they were trying to escape into the Alpine National Redoubt, and they were taking casualties in big numbers only days before the end of the war.

    The story of 80 years since Pearl Harbor is really the story of how we let the Greatest down. We face the imminent collapse of civilization, and we suck. It is good to remember the character and actions of those like Jerry Yellin. I am accursed for not having been there.

    • Kevin in PA December 7, 2021, 5:30 PM

      “… always spoke matter-of-factly about the war, always had real (actual) self-modesty, and always had superlative things to say about one another.”

      Your reflections of your father’s demeanor bring to mind memories of my own father, Casey.
      That was a generation of upright and honorable men. I shake my head and ponder how it is that this country could have gone so far off the rails.
      Next July would be Dad’s 100th birthday if he were still alive. In a way, I am glad he isn’t here to see what has become of our nation.

  • Dan Patterson December 7, 2021, 4:08 PM

    God in heaven bless this man, his family, his friends, and fellow servicemen.

    There is no better story of human experience than is told by the eyes of men who’ve faced death with honor, and returned.

    • Kevin in PA December 7, 2021, 5:32 PM

      Yes, Dan, God bless these men.
      They knew what needed to be done and they did it.

  • Jack December 7, 2021, 4:34 PM

    My dad flew B-26s over Belgium, France and Germany during WWII. He was in the air while his older brother was an infantry lieutenant under Patton in the Ardennes. My dad came home after the war but my uncle stayed for awhile. He was killed on 12/30/44, only a few days before that fight ended and was returned home a couple of years after the conflict ended.

    I remember when I was very young that my dad, who along with my uncle were avid photographers, kept a metal file out in an old store room next to the house we lived in during the 1950s and early 1960s. That file had hundreds of aerial and ground combat photos and negatives, hundred of yards of 16mm film, flight logs, mission reports and journals and my brother and I, completely unaware of their value, plundered like little rats through them all of the time. Eventually the rain, rot and rats turned them into paste and dust and that was the end of it and my dad didn’t complain about it at all.

    I believe I’d give just about anything to have those back again.

    • Dan Patterson December 8, 2021, 5:42 AM

      A facebutt friend, Jerry Raschke, was a tailgunner in the Baltimore Whore in the same theater; 61 missions and one confirmed kill. He’s written a book you might resonate with, “The Aging Warrior” about his training and experiences during the war. His bomb group may have been the 394th but that’s from memory.

      • Jack December 11, 2021, 1:24 PM

        I’ve asked my younger brother, time and again, to provide me with info that he tightly controls, that identify my dad’s BG and Squadron, etc. but I’d have to anesthetize him and drag him to his safe deposit box to get him to spill. One day maybe.

        I do know that my dad trained at Barksdale Field in Shreveport and that he was written up for some kind of on the ground crash. Didn’t kill him and he lived to be 77 but he forgot to use the brakes or something.

  • Terry December 7, 2021, 6:32 PM

    Dad flew B-17’s. Nineteen years of age, left seat over Berlin and other targets. He is 96 and lives on the coast of central Oregon. Everything he kept from the war years was stolen by a drug addicted cousin of mine in California. Dad did not seem to be bothered much by this loss.

    I love my father dearly.

  • Boat Guy December 7, 2021, 8:45 PM

    Those were special people. I think it is overstating to say “We will never see their like again” because I do; every day. We will not see their like in numbers, but our young(er) men -and women- are as good, as dedicated, as patriotic. They are fewer in number and proportion, but they are here; I am as proud to know them as I am my uncles, Dad and others of the WWII generation.

    • Dan Patterson December 8, 2021, 5:33 AM

      Thank you for that, and yes to your comment. There is a gap in some generations but the coming one appears to have most of its shit in one sock compared to other recent fumbles.

  • John Venlet December 8, 2021, 6:06 AM

    I’ve watched, and listened closely, to this video a number of times, and each time I am humbly struck by Capt. Yellin’s poise, grace, and humility about his role in WWII. He humbly exhibits the many traits one can read in military citations for bravery. He claims no credit for himself alone, but notes ALL Americans served in one form or another, and honors ALL. His phrasing, such as “purity of purpose,” his hope that his words are honoring the men he served with “correctly,” strike me as words of wisdom and truth. How blessed America was to have men, and there were many, such as him to step into the breech during this time in history.

    • Casey Klahn December 8, 2021, 8:04 AM

      I’ve talked with easily over a hundred WWII veterans, as I’m sure you have also talked with many yourself. It’s inspirational, but at the same time very heavy. They have, or have had, a genius for understatement, and I think it is in order to hit the right tone.

      Although my interests go to ground troops, I have studied as much as anyone the air war. When you stand at the Florence, Italy American Cemetery, and study the legacy of ground troops who died, there is this overwhelming cloud of aviators names on the monuments. Hundreds of flyers – they gave up their lives in droves.

      All that to say that I once stood with 3 other men, of whom I recall at least two were WWII aviation veterans. As the stories were unfolded, in brief, the air between us became thick with unstated emotion. It was not the words being said, but the emotional power and I want to say the spiritual power of remembered fear, intention and (I want to say) duties fulfilled. They were telegraphing: “I did it out of duty, it was scary as hell, and I saw men that I loved kilt”. My dad always said “kilt” when describing what had happened to his fellow soldiers.

      But, what do I know? I wasn’t in combat. I thought about it a lot when I trained in the infantry. BTW, I need to put up a map report of the potential war in the Ukraine. It helps me pass the time while I’m waiting for the Covid Stazi to knock on the door.

      If you see a WWII veteran today, shake his or her hand and kiss them.

      • John Venlet December 8, 2021, 8:26 AM

        It was not the words being said, but the emotional power and I want to say the spiritual power of remembered fear, intention and (I want to say) duties fulfilled.

        Well said, Casey, indeed.

  • Nori December 8, 2021, 9:01 PM

    The humility of Jerry Yellin is commonplace with WWII’s now wispery vets.
    Dad was Army Air Corp in that time,flying the P-51 Mustang in the Pacific. He loved that bird;the miserable steamy island bases,not so much.Especially hated the rats,”Big as cats!” he swore.

    God,I miss that man. Godspeed to him,and all warriors like him.

  • Mike Austin December 9, 2021, 10:24 AM

    The Old Breed vanishes, like dust in the wind. Those who imagined our civilization and built our civilization and maintained our civilization are passing on. Who will be left? Whose shoulders will strong enough to support what the Old Breed created? Where is our Atlas? Will we find someone—anyone—to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty”?

    “Where have all the husbands gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the husbands gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the husbands gone?
    Gone for soldiers everyone
    Oh, when will they ever learn?
    Oh, when will they ever learn?

    Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the soldiers gone?
    Gone to graveyards, everyone.
    Oh, when will they ever learn?
    Oh, when will they ever learn?

    Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
    Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
    Where have all the graveyards gone?
    Gone to flowers, everyone.
    Oh, when will they ever learn?
    Oh, when will they ever learn?”

    They never will. American Greatness will soon be visible only in graveyards.

  • Casey Klahn December 7, 2022, 10:07 PM

    OK, so I was uncomfortable making the video I am going to share because NOTHING is worse than a second-hand war story. But, I was asked by some Americans and Italians in Italy to tell my dad’s part of this story: the tragic drowning of 25 American G.I.s in the last days of WWII in Italy.

    Bill Mauldin, the WWII cartoonist who wrote Up Front; from Italy, wrote that the tragedy of dying in the final days of the war was particularly heartbreaking. This is the story of my dad coming an eyelash from death many times in combat in North Italy, and in the final 3 days of the war got one tear’s span from death.

    Lake Garda tragedy


  • james wilson December 8, 2022, 12:27 AM

    My father was a naval officer in the Pacific fleets. I know what he faced only because I know the history of his battle group. My father-in-law was a marine in the South Pacific. I never heard either speak about battle. My dad spoke of the ships doctor, who cracked and was bagged after losing his mind and sent home. He spoke of the great Hurricane of 1945, a story still told in the Phillipines. He lost half his ROTC class in that hurricane. But never combat.
    Father -in-law told hilarious stories. Billeted outside Nagasaki right after the war, he and a railroad buddy from Nebraska stole a Japanese locomotive one night and motored backward 20 miles to see Nagasaki in the moonlight. Never a war story though.
    I paid attention to old folks even when I was young but the WW1 veteran seemed even more unlikely to share. I do believe that was the nastier war, the marine experience excepted.

  • Ootenvault December 8, 2022, 4:58 AM

    Sadly, Diz Laird died at the age of 101 in Walnut Creek in August. He was the only US fighter pilot to have shot down a Japanese and a German plane during WW 2.