Thursday, September 24, 2015

WWII Iwo Jima Pilot Takes Seat on Honor Flight

Fate leads to vet's first Honor Flight
Ex-fighter pilot met city man on Iwo Jima
Journal Gazette
Washington editor
September 24, 205
He said Yellin and Hawkins became friends in part through their shared interest in helping veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Yellin co-wrote “The Resilient Warrior,” a 2011 book about PTSD, in which he said he suffered for 30 years before he began practicing Transcendental Meditation.

An ex-fighter pilot who flew the last U.S. combat mission of World War II has never boarded an Honor Flight for a group visit to war memorials in Washington, D.C.
That should change on the morning of Oct. 7, when retired Army Air Corps Capt. Jerry Yellin is scheduled to be a passenger on the Honor Flight Northeast Indiana jet that will depart from Fort Wayne International Airport carrying 85 other veterans.

It’s not as if Yellin, 91, rarely leaves his home in Fairfield, Iowa. He makes public appearances around the country for Spirit of ’45, a nonprofit organization that honors the achievements and sacrifices of the WWII generation. He attended the V-E Day flyover in Washington in May. And the author of four books returned in March to the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, where he and other fighter pilots were based in 1945 for missions escorting U.S. warplanes that bombed mainland Japan.

It was during a 2010 trip to Iwo Jima that Fort Wayne resident Dennis Covert met Yellin while both were riding an elevator at a hotel in Guam.

The next day, Covert took a photograph of Yellin near where Marines had raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

“One of the questions we ask: Can you walk the distance of a football field without assistance? And he said, ‘I can run it if you want me to,’” Covert said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “He’s in pretty good shape.”

The flight will depart Fort Wayne International at 8:30 a.m. and return about 9 p.m. Passengers will include 62 Korean War veterans and 24 WWII veterans, according to Bob Myer, president of the Honor Flight board. Two female veterans will be among the group.

Honor Flight participants fly for free but must be accompanied by volunteer guardians, who pay $400. Yellin’s guardian in Washington will be New York actress and film producer Diane Hawkins, a friend to both Yellin and Covert.
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