Yellin joined the Army Air Forces in 1941 on his 18th birthday, two months after the Pearl Harbor attacks. Yellin, who was assigned to the 78th Fighter Squadron, flew P-40, P-47, and P-51 combat missions in the Pacific during the war. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.
On Aug. 15, 1945, Yellin and his wingman 1st Lt. Philip Schlamberg took off in P-51 Mustangs for a strafing mission over Tokyo. During the flight, the airmen took anti-aircraft fire ultimately felling Schlamberg, who was one of the final casualties of the war.
Later in life, Yellin became an advocate for veterans and co-founded Operation Warrior Wellness, according to a Washington Post obituary. In 2010, Yellin began touring the country for Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive, a campaign to preserve the legacy of World War II. Yellin’s effort focused on caring for veterans who have struggled after returning for war.
“This is my way of keeping the Spirit of ’45 alive—by caring for veterans who are trying to find peace on their return home,” Yellin wrote in a “Message to America” posted by the organization. “I hope that you will find your own way to observe the Spirit of ’45 each year with your family and your community as together we reflect on what our country can achieve when it is truly united, and recommit ourselves to becoming the best that America can be.” – Air Force Magazine
Featured image of Jerry Yellin, author and retired U.S. Army Air Corps Captain, walking on the flight line after an orientation flight on Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Dec. 15, 2016 by U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ariel D. Partlow