Let’s be honest, you probably clicked on this story because of the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, not the American hero from a time that not many can barely remember.
But every American should know Capt. Jerry Yellin’s story. If it takes a little bait to get your attention for a moment, so be it.
Capt. Yellin was one of the few men on the last aerial combat mission during WWII.
A letter on History.net describes the events on the day of the last aerial combat mission of WWII:
“Iwo Jima-based P-51 Mustang pilot Jerry Yellin of the 78th Fighter Squadron “Bushmasters,” was tasked with strafing Japanese airfields near Tokyo. With news of Japan’s surrender expected at any minute, both hoped to receive the recall order before they reached their respective targets—but it was not to be.
At the previous day’s briefing, Yellin’s wingman, 19-year-old 2nd Lt. Philip Schlamberg, had leaned over to him and said, “Captain, if we go, I’m not coming back.” Yellin responded, “What are you talking about?” Schlamberg said, “It’s just a feeling I have.” On the morning of August 14, Yellin told him, “Just stay close on my wing, tuck it in tight, you’ll be OK.” After completing their strafing mission, “Schlamberg was close in on my wing,” Yellin recalled. “I gave him the thumbs-up, he gave me a thumbs-up. I led my flight of four airplanes into some clouds. When I came out of the clouds, he was gone. Nobody heard anything, nobody saw anything. When we landed on Iwo Jima, we found out that while we were strafing, the war had been over for three hours.” Although there would be additional casualties in the coming days, and the war would not officially end until the September 2 Japanese surrender ceremony, Schlamberg was among the very last to die in World War II.”
The young 2nd Lt. Philip Schlamberg, was the last American pilot to sacrifice his life to defeat the axis powers and also happens to be Scarlett Johansson’s great uncle.
Schlamberg’s older brother, Michael, had a daughter named Melanie who married the Danish architect Karsten Johansson.
Melanie and Karsten gave birth to Scarlett Johansson on November 22, 1984.
This article originally appeared on Popular Military in January of 2016.
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