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Mar-27-2008 23:18printcomments

Jacob 'Jake' DeShazer - WWII Hero and Doolittle Raider, Dies

He is now known as a war hero to Americans and a hero of peace and faith to the people of Japan.

Among DeShazer’s many military decorations for service and bravery are the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Chinese Breast Order of Yung Hui.
Among DeShazer’s many military decorations for service and bravery are the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Chinese Breast Order of Yung Hui.
Posted by R. Morris/bp1.blogger.com

(SALEM, Ore.) - One of Oregon’s best known WWII war heroes, Jacob “Jake” DeShazer, of Salem, Oregon will receive high honors during his funeral services, on Saturday, March 29th,. SSgt Jake DeShazer died peacefully at home on March 15th. He was 95 years old.

Jake flew as a bombardier on the 16th (of 16) B-25’s, from the WW2 aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Hornet, on April 18th, 1942, to be the first unit to bomb the Japanese homeland after the infamous bombing of Pearl Harbor.

After the successful bombing run, one plane safely landed in Russia, but the remaining fifteen B-25 crews either crash landed, ditched or bailed out over China, after running out of fuel.

Most of the crews eventually made it back to the United States. Three men died during their bailouts or trying to swim to shore, and eight men were captured by the Japanese Imperial Army.

DeShazer was one of the eight men captured. For 40 months Jake endured extreme suffering from brutal torture, 34 months of solitary confinement, daily beatings, humiliations, illnesses, broken ribs, being forced to watch three of his crewmen receive brutal executions, and see one die from starvation.

He nearly died several times himself, and eventually had is own death sentence commuted to life imprisonment by the Japanese Emperor Hirohito. DeShazer was rescued by the U.S. Army ten days after the bombing of Hiroshima, in 1945. He received a hero’s welcome when he was finally able to return to the United States.

During his captivity, DeShazer was permitted to read a Bible.

During one very distinct moment he promised to commit his life to sharing the peace and faith he found after reading the Bible to the Japanese people, if God allowed him to survive the war.

Jake DeShazer is the short one hiding on the right in this picture.
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

The most remarkable part of Jake DeShazer’s story comes from his decision to return to Japan after the war, at the request of General Douglas MacArthur’s Senior Chaplain.

In 1948, after attending Seattle Pacific College for ministry, Jake DeShazer, and his new wife (Florence) went back to Japan to share his message of reconciliation.

His informational pamphlet entitled, “I was a prisoner of Japan” was widely distributed and read throughout the new democracy of Japan.

Even the man who led the first wave of attacks on Pearl Harbor, Pilot Mitso Fuchida, read the pamphlet and converted to Christianity in 1950.

He and DeShazer then traveled all over Japan sharing their poignant message of forgiveness and faith.

Amazingly, Reverend DeShazer and his family stayed in Japan for 30 years. Jake’s message of faith in Christ and reconciliation for enemies has been recognized by many as an important part of the reconstruction effort of post-war Japan.

Bombardier Jake DeShazer's B-25 bomber was
the last to take off from the lurching deck of the
U.S.S. Hornet. Ahead lay the enemy territory of Japan.

He is now known as a war hero to Americans and a hero of peace and faith to the people of Japan.

Reverend (SSgt) Jacob “Jake” DeShazer will receive very high honors during his graveside service on Saturday at 11:00 AM, at the Restlawn Memorial Gardens west of Salem.

The Pentagon ordered a special fly-over of a B1-B bomber, from Jake’s original Doolittle Raider Squadron, the 34th Bomb Squadron, out of Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.

The Army is also trying to set up an artillery salute, rather than a rifle salute. The Air Force Honor Guard Squadron from McCord AFB will perform the flag folding and presentation, and will play the traditional “Taps” on bugle, as part of the military funeral service.

Later on Saturday, DeShazer’s family is celebrating Jake’s life as a missionary, father and friend, during a (non-military) memorial service at the Salem First Free Methodist Church, at 2:00 PM.

The church is expected to be packed with friends and families, as well as dignitaries from the U.S. and Japan.

The President of the United States, Members of Congress and the U.S. Senate, and people from all over the world have sent their condolences to the DeShazer family.

This war-torn world will miss the courage and heroic faith of Jake DeShazer.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Rob April 7, 2012 2:50 pm (Pacific time)

I just read his book - an inspiring man lifted up by a God who sees the potential in us all. Well done Jake - you ran the race for Him.

Peter Harms January 5, 2011 1:21 am (Pacific time)

Great class room where people of all ages learn about the truth in a dignified atmosphere

Doug October 17, 2009 12:29 pm (Pacific time)

Jake is my grandpa. After reading some of these remarks I must say I am amazed. My grandpa's story is a story of forgiveness. He was not a Christian when he was involved with the bombings, he admitted that he wanted them all to die for the killings of our own. After being in prison he found Christ. We were all once sinners but are saved through grace. The mission was not to "kill Japanese kids" but rather bomb oil refineries an munition depot. My dad was born in Japan himself while grandpa was there on mission, preaching on forgiveness. We need to forgive others as Christ forgives us. We are living in the end times, War is not good.. We should love one another. Be Christ like. Thanks -DD- RIP

Kyle Bentley May 7, 2008 12:23 pm (Pacific time)

You are a true hero! Thank you very much for serving for our country!

Nate Calvin April 7, 2008 7:14 am (Pacific time)

If the small brained people of the US would only realize that the reason that they can talk the ignorant talk they talk is strictly because of the HERO's of WWII like DeShazer and all the rest that died in a war that the US did not start. Yes Vic, God help me, this even includes people like you!

MIKE April 6, 2008 1:36 pm (Pacific time)

.he bombed Japanese cities, then he preaches to the survivors about Gods Love. Kind of like if Charles Manson got religion in prison and started preaching to the Tate, Folger,and LaBianca families.THIS IS AN APOLOGY? I THINK NOT

Clark (2nd again) April 6, 2008 1:10 pm (Pacific time)

Hey Matt J. -- To get a better handle on your true feelings, should the A-Bomb have been dropped on Hiroshima? The consensus of our leaders at the time thought it was right. They made it to spare the estimated 1 million (or more) American causulties that a land invasion of Japan would have cost. The fire bombing of Tokyo earliar in the war cost more lives than Hiroshima!

Matt Johnson in Malibu April 6, 2008 12:22 pm (Pacific time)

Hey Clark, no grace at all eh? Vic apologized, he thinks killing massive amounts of people is a tragedy, and he corrected himself after making his initial statement. You should appreciate that as a minor victory and let it go man. Do you think that is any worse than Bill O'Reilly stating that Americans killed "unarmed SS guards at Malmedy" during WWII when in fact, the Nazi's killed our unarmed prisoners? My point is that when someone screws up and offers an apology, we should all have the grace to accept it. Vic and everyone else knows that Jake was on the right side of this conflict against the Germans, but to ignore that many innocents were killed is not right, I have no doubt Jake made every right move that he could, but there is still sadness for many families.

Clark Walker (again) April 6, 2008 12:10 pm (Pacific time)

It is interesting to note that "Negative VIC" doesn't have the guts to put his last name and hometown before his message! Jake is the epitome of emathy and compassionion for which Vic has none.

MIKE April 6, 2008 3:58 am (Pacific time)

r.i.p. jake. all those doolitle flyers were heros. and vic your someone whos knows nothing about what you speak. learn before you make ignorant hateful comments.

Clark Walker, Sparks, NV April 5, 2008 2:05 pm (Pacific time)

I wonder if the above "naysayers" think he enjoyed doing his duty during the bombing? I wish they could share his experience as a prisoner. There is no shotage of idiots in this world!

JK in OK April 3, 2008 9:12 pm (Pacific time)

I encourage everyone to read the Gospel of John in memory of Mr. DeShazer. The Love of God is changing the world through changing people's hearts.

Vic March 31, 2008 8:28 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you Dick, for the nice comment and thoughts.I appreciate your spirit.I pray for all of us...especially these days.

Dick Bridgewater March 31, 2008 11:33 am (Pacific time)

Reading comments from Vic makes me very angry but like Jake would do, I will forgive him because it is obvious he does'nt understand. AS Jake would have done, I pray for mim.

Dick Bridgewater March 31, 2008 11:23 am (Pacific time)

We thank God for people like Jake. He was a most remarkable man! My regret is that I did not meet him on this earth. Our prayers are with the family. It is always hardest on those left behind. Dick and Gladys Andrus Bridgewater

Vic March 31, 2008 8:37 am (Pacific time)

OK, my last comment was prob uncalled for....I do not have the right to make those kind of judgements against anyone. However...it seems paradoxial..he bombed Japanese cities, then he preaches to the survivors about Gods Love. Kind of like if Charles Manson got religion in prison and started preaching to the Tate, Folger,and LaBianca families.

just me March 30, 2008 11:39 am (Pacific time)

Thank you SSGT for your service. RIP. Thank you to all these brave young men and women who fought in previous wars and todays war. You will never be forgotten. All our men and women in uniforms are our heroes. Lets not forget them - ever. And if you walk by a soldier, thank him or her. And to all these liberals out there, show some respect for our Military. You would be nothing without their sacrifices.

Vic March 30, 2008 8:03 am (Pacific time)

What a hero ! I wonder how many Japanese kids he killed while he was "bombing the homeland". Sounds like a terrorist to me. One more warmongering murderer in Hell.

NANCY March 29, 2008 10:09 am (Pacific time)


NANCY March 29, 2008 10:08 am (Pacific time)


CPL John Nowacki USMC March 28, 2008 4:00 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks for your service, SSGT..RIP

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