It’s fascinating how history remembers certain things but not others. For instance the P-51 Mustang has become an iconic fighter plane from fighting over the skies of Europe during WWII. That is how the plane is remembered best but what fascinates me is many don’t know about the planes history in other theater’s especially the Pacific.
Today actually marks a rather unique anniversary, this is the first day where P-51’s escorted B-29 Superfortresses to bomb Tokyo, Japan. It marks both a first for the P-51 but also the first round the trip flight of any allied fighter from Iwo Jima to Tokyo. One person that can account for that mission is Jerry Yellin.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Jerry at the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover last May in Washington D.C. Jerry flew P-51 Mustangs in the Pacific during WWII. He arrived on Iwo Jima on March 7th and then participated in the first escorting run on April 7th. He flew over a dozen missions during his tour. He flew not only the first escort mission over mainland Japan but also the last mission of the war. Today Jerry spend his time telling his story and working with others to keep the Spirit of 45 alive in all.