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tv   Jerry Yellin The Last Fighter Pilot  CSPAN  December 10, 2017 1:45pm-2:31pm EST

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[music] [choir singing] [choir singing]
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[choir singing military songs] [choir singing military songs]
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[choir singing military songs] [choir singing military songs]
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[choir singing military songs] [choir singing]
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[applause] >> as you were downstair getting ready to star the ceremony, captain yellin was asking me do i stand for the army? or die stand for the air force? because he was in the army air force. i said, sir, you're 93 years old, you can stand for anybody you want to. [applause] >> captain jerry yellin is an army air force veteran who served in world war ii between 1941 and 1945. he enlisted on his 18th 18th birthday, just two months
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after the becoming of pearl harbor. after graduating from luke army airfield as a fighter pilot in august of 1943, at the ripe old age of 19, he spent the remainder of the war flying p-40, p-47 and p-51 combat missions in the pacific with the 78th fighter squadron. he participated in the first land-based fighter mission over japan on 7 april 1945. and has the unique distinction of having flown the final combat mission of world war ii on 14 august 1945, the day combat ended. his wingman was the last man killed in to a combat mission in world war ii. his experiences as a fighter pilot in the pacific theater are captured in this book "the last fighter pilot" published their
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year. pleat -- please welcome world war ii fighter pilot, captain jerry yellin. [applause] [applause] >> thank you, sir. i have to begin by saying, this is an unbelievable honor for me.
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throughout my air force career, i was constantly remind that the air force that it served in stood on the shoulders of giants, and those giants were the men -- and no apologies to the women present but in world war ii, there were in women in combat -- not that none served. but you and your generation properly referred to as the greatest generation, set the standard for what it means to fly, fight and win, which is the basis of what is today the world's greatest air force that i proudly served in. you gave us a warrior ethos that
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defines who we are, and i'm talking about it from an air force perspective, but that same ethos, those same standards, are present across all of our military services and it's because of men like jerry yellin and your generation that gave that to us, and i thank you, and so i'm so honored to be up here with you. we had talked about some questions we were going to go through but i have to start with one. talked about you flew p-40s, p-40s, -- p-5s eye. a naval it'sor, he my dodd told me the corsair was the greatest airplane felt. i have a soft spot for the p51. when i see one night, i'm absolutely in awe. you got to tell us, what was it
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like flying the the p-51 mustang. >> learned to fly 220-horsepower steerman and then the 400-horsepower multivibrateon and then the 600-horsepower at6. each one of those you fly with an instructor, and then we got into a p-40, which was a fighter plane, being used by general chenault in china against the japanese, and then the p-47, which we called the jog, hard airplane to fly, it wasn't as controlled. then we got the finest airplane that ever was built, the p51 mustang, and you could nye that with your finger tens, the sound, the feeling of instant response with anything you wanted to do.
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that is what the p-51 was about. still the best airplane. >> i would ray grow with you. [applause] -- i would agree with you. [applause] >> host: you made reverence in the bioto your book, we'll talk about the availability of this in the become store and captain yellin will be available so autograph copies of the book. in the book you share your experience as fighter pilot in the pacific during world war ii. i think to start with, and although the book ended with it, but walk us through the last mission, the last fighter pilot, august 14, 1945,. >> guest: we dish -- i landed on iwo jima when the first atomic
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bomb was dropped. and my -- we dropped one bomb, wiped out a city. i said what are you drinking? i want so. it's hard to believe but it was true. and then on august 9th, 1945, the second bomb wag dropped on nagasaki win. thought the war was over. we would not fly anymore missions. at that point in time i was flying with 15 dies, who were never killed. never thought of them as being dead. they were transferred, we'd see them again some day. we were called to a briefing on august 13th, a room this size, 100 something pilots. and told that we're going to fly a final mission, another mission someone asked himtap, our co, why are we going to japan again? and he said, well, the japs are negotiating but there's no movement. we have to good and keep them
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hospital but they're going to broadcast the code word, utah, to abort the mission and we went good to japan. when that was said, phil said, captain, if we good on this mission i'm not coming back. and i said, what are you talking about? he says, it's feeling have. i went to tapp and told him what phil told me, and he told me, you cannot go to doc lewis, the flight surgeon, but if phil will negotiating might get off the mention, i told phil that. he said no way. early on the morning of august 14th, i said, phil, get on my wing and don't get off. stick in close. we're never going to make it to japan. but we flew to a drop tank where we had to drop our external tanks. we dropped our tanks and went in
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to strafe airfields somewhere in japan. and we needed 90 gallons of fuel to get back to iwo iwo jima. phil was on my wing, i gave him a thumbs up, he gave me a thumbs up, and i led my flight of four airplanes into some very heavy weather towards the b-29 we would fly on the wing back to iwo jima. when i claim out into the clear skies, he was gone. just gone. no radio contact no visual contact, and when we landed we found out that the moment we started to strafe, the war had already been over for three hours. it was never broadcast to us. we never heard it. that was a devastating day. he was the last of 400 plus thousand world war ii veterans who gave their lives.
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he was the last. 19 years old. >> host: you were 21? >> guest: i was 21. i was the old guy. >> host: grandpa. you just made reference to a number of close friends and fellow pilots that were tragically killed either in combat or in flight accidents during world war ii. you relay several of those incident inside your book. how did the loss of so many affect you personally? ... and when they go, you can't think about them as gone or being dead. because if you did you will
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never fly another airplane. so, one guy, we shared -- i landed and i had a toothache. i had a dentist that polled four wisdom teeth. and then mathis was given my place for a mission on june 1. the squadron took off into a front. 27 fighter planes went down. 25 guys were killed. and my airplane, it is hard for me to say the truth.of how i felt them but i missed my airplane. over there to protect our freedom. we were there to fight. we did that. it was after the war that i suffered.
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i spoke to these guys, the 16 guys that i flew with. i thought about suicide. i could not work. i suffered from what is now known as ptsd. posttraumatic stress. and did not get my life back until 1975 when i learned to meditate to relieve stress. combat is the height of evil. japan was evil, germany was evil, billy was evil. he fought against countries. and i do not believe that i am part of the greatest generation. general eisenhower, general marshall, general macarthur, they are all west point graduates. i was 18. i did not know anything about the world. admiral cain and other annapolis graduates with the
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greatest generation. tom brokaw wrote a book speaking about that it was a catchy title and sold a lot of books. really the leaders of the free world where the military men who served from west point and annapolis. >> thank you for that perspective. the war ended in 1945. i think i heard you say you spent time in the reserve. beyond the end of world war ii. but then, like millions of world war ii veterans, he returned from the war. he started a new life in the civilian world. that returning work for us and the work ethic, the belief in freedom that you brought back to our society really launched
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an incredible. in american history. how did your military service you for that new life and what transpired after the war? >> i think the military service for me was the greatest experience that i've had in my life. we, i graduated high school 1941 and had a scholarship to college. i was going to become a doctor. did not have money for us. i did not have money for clothing or housing. so i postponed entrance to college for the spring semester of 1942. and when we were attacked pearl harbor, december 7, i made up my mind. i was going to fight fighter planes. i remember when i was 11 or 12 years old i was pre-boy scout.
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i went to boy scout camp for two weeks. those two mates gave me the fundamentals to join the military. to be in the military. in the discipline that we learned, we were all quarterbacks, all guys who were cocky guys that could fly better. bomber pilots weren't guys like that but we work. and we became a squadron. and more interested in protecting our buddies and we were interested in our own lives. our life is all about you. today, i have six grandchildren. i have four sons. and it seems to me that today, life is all about me. not about you. and the military put me in that frame of mind. of service to our country. >> thank you for setting that
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stanford were so many of us. you made reference to some of the things you struggled based on your combat experience in world war ii. you're dealing with ptsd, although we do not have a name for it at the time. is your experience as a veteran impact in your life since your triumphs and struggles? how has used those experiences? >> i enjoy speaking to people. i enjoy the eighth graders, 10th graders and seniors in high school. about 10 percent of the population served in the military in world war ii. 60 million of us ãwe fought against evil. conquered the people who were
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evil. created democracies in germany, japan and italy exist today. as friends of america and the countries that we fought with as allies, russia and china, seemingly to me, are the enemies of the world. what i have learned is we are not the color of our skin. when at the language we speak. we are not the religion that we believe, we are all human beings. all exactly the same. and we have to preserve that. that feeling. isis today is willing to kill people for what they believe. we have to protect that. we protect people from everyone that is part of humanity. it is probably the best time of my life other than when i was in uniform. and i wear that uniform
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probably america. -- i wear that uniform proudly for america. west of several young people here. the band and the choir and several young people in the audience. i know some rotc cadets, children of the chaplain. what would you say to them today? those who are at a point where they are considering or maybe simply have an opportunity to make a decision about serving the nation as a member of the united states military. what would you say to them? >> my mother used to read a lot of books. an 80 years ago when i was 18 years old, i read a book by a minister, douglas. the books name was the magnificent obsession. it's the story of a small town
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in lake george, new york state. where the richest, the son of the richest 20 work due one year old boy was jumping and the beloved doctor, hudson, was dying of a heart attack. and the fire department had one resuscitative. they served the young man. and the old dr. died. then thousands and thousands of people came to his funeral. and his family discovered a journal that he kept. and had it translated into english. the opening lines that journal said, do something good for someone else every day of your life. and tell no one what you did. it is been talking about it, you might lose the benefit. for the other person. i would suggest to everyone,
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find a way to help somebody. find a way to do something for everybody. somebody, every day. even if it is a smile. the four professions that i admire in america are the three that put uniforms on. the fourth is teachers and schools. it will run a subject and give themselves away using the subject to give other people knowledge. not as respectful as i think they should be. my feelings are that we should be giving a little bit of ourselves away to other people every single day. that's the advice that i would give. [applause] >> so for you, what you just
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described, for those of us who wear the uniform. especially around veterans day, a lot of people will tell us thank you for your service. what i hear you saying is, that this is what our lives should be about a single day. doing something for someone else. service is not just military service. service is how we should lead our lives. >> i believe that very much. we are all part of humanity. i think that the pure purpose of everything that is living on this earth, from trees to birds. animals, is to re-create ourselves. pass ourselves on. there is nothing, no one goes to recreation school. it with the territory. in that territory has to be protected fathers to pass on to their sons. mothers to pass on to their daughters what is good in life.
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and we need to keep doing that. we might have lost some of it but to me, that is what life is about. >> wonderful. in a moment, we will open it up to see if our audience has any questions that they would like to ask you directly. any final thought you like to share before we open us up to the audience? >> no, i -- i'm just proud to be an american. [applause] >> and continue to wear this uniform proudly. i cannot say what an honor it is to be, for me, to be in this audience on this day and in 2017. i sort of live my life like a
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checking account. yesterday is the canceled check. you cannot fit back anymore. today is money in the bank. i can spend it and close dad owes me a promissory note for tomorrow. i don't know if i will get paid tomorrow. so today is the day and i am just thrilled to be here. thank you. >> thank you, sir. we would like to open up now for any questions that you may have for captain yellin.we live in our audience, if you have a question you like to ask, if you could just please raise your hand and look at the microphone to you. for potential questions and please raise your hand. hope nancy with a microphone. but i would like to ask a question of captain yellin. this is in broadcast really, worldwide via facebook. and it is being recorded by c-span. live a very large audience but i know you say something with ptsd for five years. but suggesting, what guidance might you give to somebody
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listening to this that would be in need of help enough. >> i was told i had battle fatigue. the war was over. you cannot forget about it. the veterans today, 20 22 commit suicide every day. those who served. they need something for themselves. and a lot for antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs which are sometimes addictive. and you can teach meditation for $700 to veteran. a one time for a lifetime of tm.org is a website that they can find out about it. i still meditate every day twice a day. it has kept me alive and is keeping me alive. i'm an advocate of that. not force it on anybody. it removes the stress from
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combat. and if it did it for me it can do it for others. center section, sir? next hello. thus, my father-in-law, 94 world war ii. he flew through the hump of the himalayas to india. he is alive today. he does walk with a walker. and today i sat with a good friend of mine at a breakfast he was 95 years old. and he flew combat in italy. so they are still the five percent and those of you who have not read the book, the greatest generation, you need to read it. it is a wonderful book. thank you very much, sir. >> i appreciate that. [applause] >> sir, in preparation and coming here, i've been a little
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bit about your life after the war. and a little bit of some reconciliation you made your family. i don't know if you would take a moment just to share that. i know that's probably a long story but of a dear little about that. >> in 1983 i was a consultant for major banks in california. they asked me to go to japan to speak to bank group. well, i had been on iwo jima, you can locate the sites, you can reference take the sound you can locate the smell of 20,000 bodies rotting in the sun third avenue use the japanese people. and i said no, i cannot go to japan i am too busy. and i asked, i told my wife when i came home. that i turned on a trip to go to japan. she very fitly said, jerry, you never once asked me if i wanted to go to japan. [laughter] being a dutiful husband, in
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1983, and myself in japan. and i was completely overwhelmed by the culture, the education, food, the scenery, the people, everything! my youngest of four sons was then a senior at san diego state. and my wife that we should give them a trip to japan for graduation present. we did that. find a contract in 1984 to teach english in japan for one year. now it is 2017 and he has not come back yet. so, they are. then he married a daughter of a kamikaze pilot who hated me as much as i hated him. and we've been friends and family. i japanese grandchildren, six grandchildren. alyssa 28. a masters in physics the mit of japan. and is one of 100 people got a
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job from 23,000. his brother, simon, named, not after my father. but he graduated from the university in the city of london. a four-year course in philosophy. and was awarded a two-year course speed to get a bachelors in philosophy. with he graduated from in one year. the 21-year-old granddaughter, sarah. my enemy is my family. michael thought processes of world war ii was to kill japanese. and now i have three grandchildren in japan. family in japan. and i found that was the biggest learning experience i could ever have. i wrote about that in 1988. it is called the war and -- do not like to promote myself but
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physically you can read on amazon. and i am proud of them, in front of my great grandchildren. and my love for them. >> off to the right, sir. [applause] >> we have time for one last question. and we will take that now and then we will hear from our choir and band. the very dramatic republic. afterwards jerry will be available to autographed copies of the book the front lobby which are available in our store. our last question. >> thank you, sir for your service. everyone on here, thank you very much for keeping us safe in america. have you found anything since your time find the 51? maybe even gotten a jet and experience that and having parents both the navy have to quickly say,!
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[laughter] [applause] >> well, you really never lose the ability to make love unless you get old. he really never lose the ability to fly. i flew in a -- in phoenix, two days ago. [applause] i flew a t-6, the new t-6, at 12 1400 horsepower trainer at laughlin air force base in december and i'm going back to phoenix in january to get a ride in an f-16. [applause]
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they have a very small club of pilots today, fighter pilots called the 9g club. they pulled 90s and f-16. i am not going to let them do that. [laughter] i don't i will make it through. >> he left at once will detail. he not only flew the t-6 at laughlin air force base. he actually landed it! [applause] >> i -- i do not know how got to be this age. i guess i have good genes. but i genuinely feel i am in the end of my life right now. and to be her, to be with you, sir and he remained in and the audience is one of the roles and honors of my life.
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thank you, very much. [applause] >> sir, thank you very much! wayne, captain yellin, thank you! [applause] will and will conclude. [applause] [background sounds] ♪ ♪ [music]
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>> waves and judgment the appropriate one more round of applause for the wonderful young people that share their musical talents with us today. table ensemble. [applause] >> this is a look at some of the best books of the year according to the san francisco chronicles. historian berlin talks about how silicon valley came the center of innovation in the filament. and it shows respect on the universe and after physics or people in a hurry. and grant pulitzer prize winning dog for ron franklin
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exposed the life of ulysses s grant. unseen is a collection of unreleased images of african-american culture from the new york times photo archives. in best-selling biographer, walter isaacson recounts the life of leonardo da vinci. >> in 1482, there is a big delegation that goes from florence to milan by the -- family to the duke of milan led by playwright and a poet. and an architect, engineers, and all of things, leonardo goes as a musician. because he does everything. especially because he loves theater piercing is invented musical instruments. including one called -- at a violin, he made in the shape of a horse head and so he brings it to milan as a gift. as part of that cultural delegation. but he wants to stay there. he is a no horizon it is a
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little tired of being a painter. he is blocked on his last two pages piercing he wrecked the coolest job application that is in history to the duke of milan. and is 11 paragraph long. and the first is about engineering and science.he says that i can make great weapons of war. something he had not really done but sketched out a lot of including the large crossbow. ... [inaudible conversations] >> ready? >> yeah. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. good morning.

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