This link to the following video on dvids the "Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System" which is embedded just below, was very thoughtfully emailed to me by a relative of mine -- my second cousin Bob, who lives out West.
It is a portion of an interview with a 91 year-old gentleman by the name of Jerry Yellin, from Fairfield, Iowa, who holds the rather compelling distinction of having flown his P-51 in the very last combat mission of World War II over Japan, on August 14, 1945. During that mission his wing man, Phil Schlamberg of Brooklyn, NY. was killed making his death the last American combat death of the war. Capt. Yellin was a pilot, having flown many missions over Iwo Jima. He was an officer in the Army Air Corps, there having been no separate United States Air Force until 1947, a few years after the war.
His interview was actually given on March 21, 2015, right on Iwo Jima, where Capt. Yellin had traveled along with other World War veterans, to take part in a ceremony commemorating the end of the war, nearly 70 years ago.
My reaction to the video was that it simply took my breath away. Jerry relates some basic historical information and also makes several personal observations that really put things in perspective, at least for me. When he speaks of the "purity of purpose" people had back in those days in fighting the war, it highlights by way of contrast the level of divisiveness in our culture today.
Naturally, I wrote back to my cousin and thanked him for having shared this video with me.
And I also told him this:
"It made me both smile and cry. Anyway, the smile won."
More here, a press release detailing a few appearances Jerry made two years ago in Washington, D.C. at the age of 89.
Jerry Yellin, of Fairfield, IA, was flying a P51 fighter plane over Japan on August 14, 1945, the day that President Harry Truman announced that the war had ended and spontaneous celebrations broke out across America. Yellin, now 89, is a national spokesman for “Spirit of ’45 Day,” a national day of remembrance honoring the men and women of the WWII generation that was passed by Congress in 2010 and is now observed on the second Sunday in August.