Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jacob DeShazer - Doolittle Raider turned missionary

Jacob Daniel DeShazer (15 November 1912 – 15 March 2008) participated in the Doolittle Raid as a staff sergeant and later became a missionary in Japan. Here is the story of how from a Doolittle Raider, he become a Christian missionary.

Jacob DeShazer - Doolittle Raider
Doolittle Raid

The Doolittle Raid, on 18 April 1942, was the first air raid by the United States to strike the Japanese Home Islands (specifically Honshu) during World War II. By demonstrating that Japan itself was vulnerable to American air attack, it provided a vital morale boost and opportunity for U.S. retaliation after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle. Doolittle would later recount in his autobiography that the raid was intended to bolster American morale and to cause the Japanese to begin doubting their leadership:

The Japanese people had been told they were invulnerable ... An attack on the Japanese homeland would cause confusion in the minds of the Japanese people and sow doubt about the reliability of their leaders. There was a second, and equally important, psychological reason for this attack ... Americans badly needed a morale boost.[1]

Sixteen U.S. Army Air Forces B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched from the U.S. Navy's aircraft carrier USS Hornet deep in the Western Pacific Ocean. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on the Hornet was impossible. All of the aircraft involved in the bombing were lost and 11 crewmen were either killed or captured—with three of the captured men executed by the Japanese Army in China. One of the B-25s landed in the Soviet Union at Vladivostok, where it was confiscated and its crew interned for more than a year. Thirteen entire crews, and all but one crewman of a 14th, returned either to the United States or to American forces.[2][3]

The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, but it succeeded in its goal of helping American morale, and casting doubt in Japan on the ability of the Japanese military leaders. It also caused Japan to withdraw its powerful aircraft carrier force from the Indian Ocean to defend their Home Islands, and the raid contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's decision to attack Midway — an attack that turned into a decisive rout of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy near Midway Island in the Central Pacific.

The Doolittle Raid

On 1 April 1942, the 16 modified bombers, their five-man crews and Army maintenance personnel, totaling 71 officers and 130 enlisted men,[14] were loaded onto the USS Hornet at Alameda. Each aircraft carried four specially constructed 500-pound (225 kg) bombs. Three of these were high-explosive munitions and one was a bundle of incendiaries. The incendiaries were long tubes, wrapped together in order to be carried in the bomb bay but designed to separate and scatter over a wide area after release. Five bombs had Japanese "friendship" medals wired to them—medals awarded by the Japanese government to U.S. servicemen before the war.[16] The bombers' armament was reduced to decrease weight (and thus increase range). Each bomber launched with two .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in an upper turret and a .30-caliber (7.62 mm) machine gun in the nose. The simulated gun barrels mounted in the tail cones, intended to discourage Japanese air attacks from behind, were cited afterward by Doolittle as being particularly effective.[11] The aircraft were clustered closely and tied down on the Hornet's flight deck in the order of their expected launch.

The B-25s then flew towards Japan, most in groups of two to four aircraft before changing to single file at wavetop level to avoid detection.[22] The aircraft began arriving over Japan about noon (Tokyo time; six hours after launch) and bombed 10 military and industrial targets in Tokyo, two in Yokohama and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka. Although some B-25s encountered light antiaircraft fire and a few enemy fighters over Japan, no bomber was shot down. Only the B-25 of Lt. Richard O. Joyce received any battle damage, minor hits from antiaircraft fire.[20] B-25 No. 4, piloted by Lt. Everett W. Holstrom, jettisoned its bombs before reaching its target when it came under attack by fighters after its gun turret malfunctioned.[23]

15 of the 16 aircraft then proceeded southwest along the southern coast of Japan and across the East China Sea towards eastern China, where several fields in Zhejiang province were supposed to be ready to guide them in using homing beacons, then recover and refuel them for continuing on to Chongqing, the wartime Kuomintang capital.[14] The primary base was at Zhuzhou, toward which all the aircraft navigated, but Halsey never sent the planned signal to alert them, apparently because of a possible threat to the task force. One B-25, extremely low on fuel, headed instead for the closer land mass of the Soviet Union.

The raiders faced several unforeseen challenges during their flight to China: night was approaching, the aircraft were running low on fuel and the weather was rapidly deteriorating. None would have reached China at all except for a fortuitous tail wind as they came off the target that increased their ground speed by 25 knots for seven hours.[24] As a result of these problems, the crews realized they would probably not be able to reach their intended bases in China, leaving them the option of either bailing out over eastern China or crash landing along the Chinese coast.[11][N 4] Fifteen aircraft reached the Chinese coast after 13 hours of flight and crash landed or bailed out; the crew who flew to the Soviet Union landed 40 miles (65 km) beyond Vladivostok, where their B-25 was confiscated and the crew interned. It was the longest combat mission ever flown by the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, averaging approximately 2,250 nautical miles (4,170 km). Although York and others were well-treated, diplomatic attempts to return them to the United States proved unsuccessful. Eventually they were relocated to Ashgabat (20 miles (32 km) from the Iranian border), and York managed to bribe a smuggler, who helped them cross the border and reach nearby British consulate on May 11, 1943.[2][3] According to declassified Soviet archives, smuggling was staged by NKVD, because the Soviet government felt unable to repatriate them legally in the face of the neutrality pact with Japan.[25]

Doolittle and his crew, after safely parachuting into China, received assistance from Chinese soldiers and civilians as well as John Birch, an American missionary in China. As did the others who participated in the mission, Doolittle had to bail out but fortunately landed in a heap of dung (saving a previously injured ankle from breaking) in a paddy in China near Quzhou. Doolittle thought that the raid had been a terrible failure because the aircraft were lost, and that he would be court-martialed upon his return.[26] Doolittle subsequently recommended Birch for intelligence work with Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers.

The Killing by Japanese

Approximately 250,000 Chinese civilians were massacred by the Japanese Army in eastern China in retaliation for Chinese assistance of the attacking American aviators. Following the Doolittle Raid, most of the B-25 crews that came down in China eventually made it to safety with the help of Chinese civilians and soldiers. The Chinese people who helped them, however, paid dearly for sheltering the Americans. The Japanese military began the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign to intimidate the Chinese from helping downed American airmen. The Japanese killed an estimated 250,000 civilians while searching for Doolittle's men.

Jacob DeShazer - Prisoner of War
The missing crews

The crews of two aircraft (10 men in total) were unaccounted for: Hallmark's crew (sixth off) and Farrow's crew (last off).

On 15 August 1942, the United States learned from the Swiss Consulate General in Shanghai that eight of the missing crew members were prisoners of the Japanese at Police Headquarters in that city (two crewmen had drowned after the crash landing of their aircraft). On 19 October 1942, the Japanese announced that they had tried the eight men and sentenced them to death, but that several of them had received commutation of their sentences to life imprisonment. No names or details were included in the broadcast.

After the war, the complete story of the two missing crews was uncovered in a war crimes trial held in Shanghai. The trial opened in February 1946 to try four Japanese officers for mistreatment of the eight captured crewmen. Two of the missing crewmen, Staff Sgt. William J. Dieter and Sgt. Donald E. Fitzmaurice, had drowned when their B-25 crashed off the coast of China. The other eight, Lieutenants Dean E. Hallmark, Robert J. Meder, Chase Nielsen, William G. Farrow, Robert L. Hite, and George Barr; and Corporals Harold A. Spatz and Jacob DeShazer were captured. In addition to being tortured and starved, these men contracted dysentery and beriberi as a result of the poor conditions under which they were confined. On 28 August 1942, pilot Hallmark, pilot Farrow and gunner Spatz were given a mock trial by the Japanese, although the airmen were never told the charges against them. On 14 October 1942, these three crewmen were advised that they were to be executed the next day. At 16:30 on 15 October 1942, the three were taken by truck to Public Cemetery Number 1 outside of Shanghai and executed by a firing squad.

The other five captured airmen remained in military confinement on a starvation diet, their health rapidly deteriorating. In April 1943, they were moved to Nanking where, on 1 December 1943, Meder died. The remaining four men (Nielsen, Hite, Barr and DeShazer) eventually began receiving slightly better treatment from their captors and were even given a copy of the Bible and a few other books. They survived until they were freed by American troops in August 1945. The four Japanese officers who were tried for war crimes against the eight Doolittle Raiders were all found guilty. Three of them were sentenced to hard labor for five years and the fourth to a nine-year sentence.

Clip from an Anti-Japanese Propaganda video entitled "Know Your Enemy: Japan." Released in 1945, the film gives an overview of Japanese social, military, and political culture, attempting to provide a rationale for America's war with Japan.

After the War

DeShazer eventually became a missionary and returned to Japan in 1948, where he served in that capacity for over 30 years.

Of the group, only Hite is alive. Barr died of heart failure in 1967, Nielsen in 2007 and Jacob DeShazer died 15 March 2008.

One other Doolittle Raid crewman was lost on the mission. Corporal Leland D. Faktor (flight engineer/gunner with Gray) was killed during his bailout attempt over China, the only man on his crew to be lost.

(source: wikipedia)

Jacob DeShazer - Christian missionary

Jacob DeShazer, a member of the Doolittle Raiders, tells the story of his conversion to Christianity in a Japanese POW camp, his forgiveness for his Japanese torturers, and his return to Japan to preach the Gospel.

The following Bible words inspired Jacob DeShazer to forgive his enemies, the words also inspired through Jacob DeShazer testimony, transform a pilot from Japanese Imperial Navy Air Service to love his enemies....

2 Corinthians 5:17-19

17 If any person is in Christ, then that person is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new! 18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself. And God gave us the work of bringing people into peace with him. 19 I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold people guilty for their sins. And he gave us this message of peace {to tell people}.

(Extract from the New Testament, Holy Bible)

Enemy become Friend

The most interesting testimony of his life is how he met Mitsuo Fuchida (淵田美津雄). Mitsuo Fuchida (淵田美津雄) (3 December 1902 - 30 May 1976) was a Captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and a Imperial Japanese Navy flying ace pilot before and during World War II. He is perhaps best known for leading the first air wave attacks on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Fuchida was responsible for the coordination of the entire aerial attack working under the overall fleet Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. After World War II ended, Fuchida became an evangelist Christian preacher and frequently travelled to the United States to minister to the Japanese expatriate community.

DeShazer, the Doolittle Raider who bombed Nagoya, met Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, becoming close friends. Fuchida became a Christian in 1950 after reading a tract written about DeShazer titled, "I Was a Prisoner of Japan", and spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Asia and the United States. On occasion, DeShazer and Fuchida preached together as Christian missionaries in Japan. In 1959, DeShazer moved to Nagoya to establish a Christian church in the city he had bombed.

Two enemies become brothers in Christ.

1. http://www.doolittleraid.com/
2. http://www.doolittleraider.com/
3. Spared for Life and strength to forgive, http://realideal.com/forum/topic/467

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