“So this takes me back to when I was 21 years old and we were fighting to make the world safe from the tyranny of three countries and that’s what it means to me. It’s a very important day in my life,” said Jerry Yellin, World War II Veteran.
World War II veteran Jerry Yellin was not at the invasion of Normandy, but says being at the National D-Day Memorial brings back memories of war.
“You know the sights and the sounds of war can be replicated, but the smell of rotting bodies. I landed on Iwo Jima. There were 90 thousand soldiers, 67 thousand marines and 23 thousand Japanese fighting on 8 square miles of land and there were 28 thousand bodies rotting in the sun and that smell never ever went away and when I come to memorials like this, the smells come back, the sights come back, the sounds come back, and that never goes away,” said Jerry Yellin, World War II Veteran.
Still fitting in his uniform at 93 years old, Jerry says he always knew he wanted to be a combat pilot.
“On December 7th, when I heard about Pearl Harbor, I made up my mind that I was going to fly fighter planes against the Japanese, and I filled out the papers on my 18th birthday February 15th, 1942. I forced, literally forced my parents to sign the papers and I turned them in and I was inducted into the service,” said Jerry Yellin, World War II Veteran.
Jerry flew the last combat mission of the war on August 14th 1945, the day the war ended.
But unexpected events in his life, would teach him to love the nation of people he so hated.
His son married a Japanese woman and Jerry says he loves his Japanese grandchildren just as much as his American grandkids.
“Through my children’s actions, I’ve discovered that we as human beings are all the same no matter what the language, no matter what color of the skin, no matter the God that they believe in,” said Jerry Yellin, World War II Veteran.
And says at 93 years old, his outlook on life has changed for the better.