“Jerry’s Last Mission” — a moving documentary about the late Jerry Yellin, who flew the last combat mission of World War II over Tokyo in August 1945 — can be viewed online at no charge at jerryslastmission.com until Nov. 13, to coincide with Veteran’s Day.
The Jerry Fest, as it has been titled, will feature virtual Q&A sessions with the filmmakers and Yellin family members on Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11) and Nov. 12 at 8 p.m., hosted by the Regnery History publishing company and The David Lynch Foundation, respectively.
“His story of healing and reconciliation is pretty remarkable and I believe fitting for the times we live in,” said Montclair resident Gail Prusslin, who is married to Yellin’s son Michael.
Yellin, who grew up in Hillside, died in 2017 at the age of 93.
The film, directed by Louisa Merino and produced by Ed Cunningham and Melissa Hibbard, documents his life as a decorated fighter pilot who suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder for years, with survivor’s guilt and thoughts of suicide. But when his son Robert moved to Japan and married the daughter of a kamikaze pilot, Yellin confronted the fear and hatred he had carried with him since the war. The movie tells the tale of his healing, and how he dedicated the last years of his life to promoting understanding between different cultures.
“What it all means for me is that his remarkable, inspirational life story will finally have a bigger audience,” said Michael Yellin.
“He was a warrior who saw himself as just one of millions who did their patriotic duty to defend the nation. He suffered greatly because of his war experiences and, remarkably, came to terms with his PTSD after learning TM (Transcendental Meditation) in 1975. He spent the last decades of his life advocating for veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD.”
Jerry Yellin co-founded Operation Warriors Wellness at the David Lynch Foundation, which, in recognition of his work with the foundation, established the Jerry Yellin Resilient Warrior Fund to teach TM to veterans and first responders with PTSD. He also co-founded Operation Warrior Shield, which has the same goals.
“His message of hatred to love and reconciliation with his former enemy, after my brother moved to Japan and married the daughter of a Japanese kamikaze pilot, resonated wherever he spoke, and he spoke all over the country,” said Michael Yellin. “He spoke passionately about peace and how we are all the same ‘in the eyes of nature,’ that the labels we use to divide people are really just imaginary. He left quite a legacy, which I hope the documentary will help keep alive.
“His message is particularly germane in this time of a deeply divided nation. His generation found unity in a time of crisis and I know that he would hope our generation would do the same today.”
The documentary is based on Yellin’s 1995 autobiography, “Of War and Weddings.”
“The name of the book is about to be changed so that it’s the same as the documentary: ‘Jerry’s Last Mission,’ ” said Michael Yellin. “So, it’s a little tricky about explaining the name of the book. On Amazon, it’s still listed as ‘Of War and Weddings,’ and I don’t know when the name will actually change.”
For information, and to watch the documentary, visit jerryslastmission.com.
Here is the film’s trailer:
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