Hate turns to love: ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ tells the story of WWII veteran coping with horrors of war
The story of a World War II fighter pilot from New Jersey who flew the last combat mission over Japan is now the subject of a new documentary film – “Jerry’s Last Mission.”
Capt. Jerry Yellin fought the enemy during the war, only to wage a battle within himself for decades after returning home.
“He hated the Japanese all of his life. When he came back with PTSD and really suffering tremendously in silence like everybody in that generation. They would just not talk about it,” says filmmaker Louisa Merino.
Merino had a chance meeting with Yellin in 2015 when the veteran was in his 90s, and found that he had a story to tell.
“So, it is a story of transformation, but it’s really a testament of the healing process he went through, a journey of healing,” Merino says.
Yellin’s life took a dramatic turn some 40 years after the war when his son, who was in Japan for some time, met the daughter of a Kamikaze pilot and the two planned to marry. Finding himself suddenly with a new Japanese family, Yellin’s once hardened heart opened up and he came to love what he had despised for so long.
“He started learning transcendental meditation,” Merino says. “Something inside him changed where he was able to start letting go of the anger. Start letting go of the horrors he experienced.”
Yellin, who grew up in Hillside, says that his story is one of hatred turned to love. He died in 2017 at 93 years old, shortly after the shooting of the film was complete.
“Jerry’s Last Mission” is streaming for free through Friday on the film’s website.