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Jacob 'Jake' DeShazer - WWII Hero and Doolittle Raider, DiesSalem-News.com
He is now known as a war hero to Americans and a hero of peace and faith to the people of Japan.
(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.
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.
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.
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