The Last Fighter Pilot: The True Story of the Final Combat Mission of World War II. By Don Brown with Captain Jerry Yellin. Washington, D.C.: Regnery History, 2017. Photographs. Maps. Bibliography. Pp. xxxiii, 222. $25.99 ISBN: 978-162157-506-1
Captain Jerry Yellin flew combat in P-51 Mustangs with the VIIth Fighter Command's 15th FG, 78th FS on Iwo Jima during 1945. Early on August 15 (local time), with enemy surrender pending, Yellin's unit took off to attack airfields in the Tokyo area. In the meantime the enemy accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and the planes were recalled. The message was not received, however, and the attack went ahead. Yellin concluded that the convergence of the surrender and the mission made his the last combat action of the war, thus the slogan the Last Fighter Pilot. Not just the usual combat chronicle, this book shares Yellin's feelings about combat, losing friends, and facing the enemy. The text flows along in a lively, readable, and descriptive style but leaves his emotional reaction to the war unresolved. A great concluding chapter would have related Yellin's postwar grapple with what he eventually concluded was PTSD.
The author of four books, including the autobiographical Of War and Weddings, Yellin maintains a website, writes a blog, and makes personal appearances regarding his wartime experiences. Co-author Don Brown, a former Navy JAG officer and special assistant U.S. attorney, has over a dozen works to his credit, among them Call Sign Extortion 17.
Brown researched numerous official records to recount VII Fighter Command strategy and tactics in detail. There are a lot of particulars about combat aircraft and plenty of harrowing detail on air combat, the Banzai attack of March 26, 1945 on Iwo Jima, and the loss of twenty-seven fighter pilots in the storm of June 1, 1945. However numerous...