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"And the sights and the sounds and the smells of that day are with me to this day." (Video interview, 11:27)

   Jerome Yellin
Collection image
Jerome Yellin at time of interview
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: 78th Fighter Squadron
Service Location: Iwo Jima; Pacific Theater
Rank: Captain
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Jerome Yellin’s career as a fighter pilot got off to a rocky start, when he flunked the physical exam due to 20-30 vision in one eye. Not to be deterred, he obtained a copy of the eye chart from his mother, who worked for the draft board, and passed the test on his second try. Flying with the 78th Fighter Squadron, he took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima and escorted B-29s on bombing runs over Tokyo. Over the course of his time in combat, he lost 16 members of his squadron. On August 13, 1945, he completed his 19th mission over Japan, and arrived back to Iwo Jima to find out the war had been over for three hours. In his oral history interview, he speaks candidly about the sights and smells of war, and about how he overcame Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through Transcendental Meditation.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (47 min.)
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»75th anniversary of VE-day
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Deciding to enlist in the Army Air Corps; passion for aviation; initially flunking the eye test; memorizing eye chart and eventually passing. (02:32) Flunking another eye test; was assigned to a transport unit; petitioning to become a fighter pilot. (01:04) Memorable mission; bailing out; spending nine hours in a life raft until he was picked up. (01:02)
Memories of the battle of Iwo Jima; bombing of Tokyo; smell of death. (02:38) Losing 16 of his comrades; flying the last mission of World War II. (03:10) Thoughts on the necessity of World War II and the Greatest Generation. (02:02)
Generational differences between then and now; valuing comrades lives’ over his own. (01:48)  

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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