Jacob Daniel DeShazer, 6584514, Staff Sergeant
Bombardier Crew 16

Graduated from Madras High School, Madras, Oregon in 1931.  Enlisted on February 26, 1940 at Fort McDowell, California.  Attended Bombardier and Airplane Mechanics Schools.  Was captured by the Japanese after the Tokyo Raid and spent 40 months as a prisoner of war.  Released on August 20, 1945 and separated from the service on October 15, 1945.  Graduated Seattle Pacific College, Seattle, Washington, on June 7, 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in preparation for a life as a missionary.  After completion of his missionary training, he returned to Japan on December 28, 1948 to fulfill the vision he had while a prisoner.  Decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and the Chinese Breast Order of Yung Hui.

Born November 15, 1912, West Stayton, Oregon
Died March 15th, 2008, Salem Oregon

From Vengeance to Forgiveness—Jake DeShazer's Extraordinary Jounrey (DVD) DV735
*** DOCUMENTARY OF JACOB DESHAZER ***

Finding forgiveness: Former Doolittle Raider,
POW shares experiences

By JOSN Geraldine Hawkins
Pacific Fleet Joint Information Bureau
 

Cpl. Jacob DeShazer, United States Army Air Corps, was a bombardier on the historic mission April 18, 1942 in which Gen. Jimmy Doolittle and his crew attacked Tokyo and turned the tide of the Pacific war. For the next three years, he paid a heavy price for his bravery as the Japanese beat, tortured and starved him as a "war criminal." 

Why then did DeShazer, who spoke at Pearl Harbor Memorial Chapel May 18, spend the next 30 years of his life as a Methodist missionary in Japan? 

The courage of Gen. Doolittle and his Raiders -- who did not expect to survive the bombing raid over Japan -- is vividly depicted in the motion picture "Pearl Harbor," which premiered May 21 on the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). DeShazer, 88, and his wife Florence were in Pearl Harbor for the premiere and to share how that "Date of Infamy" led to a chain of events that changed their lives. 

DeShazer was subjected to unbelievable cruelty, including being forced to watch helplessly while one of his friends died of slow starvation. "My hatred for the enemy nearly drove me crazy," he said. "My thoughts turned toward what I had heard about Christianity changing hatred between human beings into real brotherly love. I begged my captors to get me a Bible, and when the emperor of Japan told them to treat us better, I got one."  

"I begged my captors to get me a Bible, and when the emperor of Japan told them to treat us better, I got one."

 Jacob DeShazer

Doolittle Raider, POW 

The sentence that changed DeShazer's world was "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." 

"I realized that these people did not know anything about my Savior and that if Christ is not in a heart, it is natural to be cruel," says DeShazer. 

DeShazer was liberated in August 1944 by the 442nd Regiment Combat Team when they parachuted into China. One of his liberators, Dick Hamada, joined DeShazer at the chapel service.  

"They were emaciated," recalled Hamada, now 79. "The Japanese didn't even consider them prisoners of war. They were 'war criminals." 

DeShazer returned to the United States where Gen. Hap Arnold promoted him to staff sergeant. "General Arnold said I became a sergeant the moment the wheels left the deck [before the raid]," DeShazer recalled.  

His experiences as a prisoner of war influenced him to go to Japan as a missionary.

"When I was a prisoner, I was afraid I was going to die and I told God 'I don't want to go up there with empty hands; I want to do something for Jesus." He attended college, then seminary to prepare for his new mission as an ambassador for Christ. 

Before he arrived in Japan, DeShazer wrote a tract entitled "I Was a Prisoner of Japan," that was widely distributed throughout Japan. One person who read this tract was an embittered Japanese ex-pilot, Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. The message was completely different from anything the officer had ever heard. All of his dreams had been shattered, and he was ready to consider the claims of Christ. 

In one of the strangest and most inspiring stories to come out of World War II, Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who bombed Pearl Harbor, and DeShazer, the Doolittle Raider who bombed Tokyo, became close friends. Fuchida became a Christian in 1950 and, like DeShazer, spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Asia. 

When DeShazer and his wife Florence went to Japan in 1948, they found a fertile field for missionary work. "MacArthur told them [Japanese] that they ought to be Christians," DeShazer recalled. "They wanted to find out what was right. A lot of the young people committed suicide when the emperor told them he was just another human being. They had been brought up to believe the emperor was a divine person. When we told them about the Lord, they said 'We never heard anything like this before!" 

Hamada recalled the first time he and DeShazer met since the rescue over half a century ago. Hamada wanted to find out what became of the men he rescued.

"My daughter got on the internet and found Jacob DeShazer of the Free Methodist Church in Salem, Oregon. I called, told Mrs. DeShazer who I was, and she shouted 'Jacob! Jacob!" 

Hamada and DeShazer saw each other again after 55 years at a reunion of the Doolittle Raiders in Fresno, Calif., three weeks before the movie premiere. They had corresponded, but never expected to meet. The chapel service marked only the second time the two men have met since 1944. 

While the movie "Pearl Harbor" introduces a new generation to the events that led America on a journey from defeat to victory, DeShazer's message focuses on a personal journey from hatred to love and how that experience turned him from an agent of revenge into an ambassador of reconciliation.

This article was found at the following link...
http://www.hnn.navy.mil/archives/010525/deshazer_052501.htm
 

 

The objective of the mission had been met. The Doolittle Raiders in plane No. 16 had dropped four incendiary bombs on a group of oil storage tanks and a factory in Nagoya, a manufacturing city about 300 miles southwest of Tokyo. But now, trying desperately to reach free China, they encountered a dense fog, closing in fast. Their B-25 had been slowed by a large hole in its nose -- inadvertent damage sustained prior to their takeoff from the USS Hornet. Their fuel supply nearly gone, they parachuted one by one into the night. Unfortunately, they were over Japanese-occupied China, and within a couple of days the five army airmen became prisoners of the enemy.


The bombing of Japan by the Doolittle Raiders on April 18, 1942 -- featured in the closing minutes of the movie Pearl Harbor -- was only the beginning of an incredible saga that gives testimony to the power of God's love in a world of men determined to hate. And while the Raiders in the movie waged a fierce gun battle with the Japanese, in the "real story" none of the eight captured men (from two planes) fired a single shot after ditching their aircraft in Japanese-held China. Unsure of the loyalties among the people they met, they didn't want to mistakenly shoot nationalist Chinese soldiers or civilians.

Almost without preamble, the men found themselves in the hands of the Japanese. An intense period of interrogation, torture, extended isolation and despair followed. Three -- both pilots and a rear gunner -- were executed by firing squad; another died of slow starvation. Only four lived through it, !nd only one determined to return, Lord willing. First he had come with bombs; now he would come back again -- armed with the love of Christ for his "enemies."

Jacob D. "Jake" DeShazer -- an exceedingly charming 88-year-old with an engaging smile and striking blue eyes -- currently resides with his wife of 55 years, Florence, in his home state of Oregon. But between 1942 and 1945, this gentle patriot endured 40 months of brutality and deprivation, 36 of them in solitary confinement. The weight on his 5-foot-6-inch frame dropped from 160 to 128 pounds; at times his body was covered with boils. "The only feeling I harbored was that of hatred, bitter hatred," he recalls.

Given access to a Bible for three short weeks in 1944, DeShazer experienced a divine transformation. He made peace with Christ in his lonely prison cell, returning to his Christian roots and thereby answering his mother's prayers that his life be spared -- both for now, and for eternity. And while his conditions didn't change, his heart did.

Upon his release from captivity at the close of the war, DeShazer revealed that God had called him to return to Japan -- taking the love of Christ to that defeated, disillusioned people. In obedience to God, DeShazer, his wife and the first of their five children arrived in Yokohama on Dec. 28, 1948, to begin 30 years of service as Free Methodist missionaries.

Many thousands of Japanese responded to their former prisoner's invitation to receive Christ as Savior; perhaps most notable among them was Mitsuo Fuchida -- commander of the Japanese air fleet that devastated Pearl Harbor, and made famous in the movie Tora, Tora, Tora. Fuchida's conversion came as a direct result of his reading "I Was a Prisoner of Japan," a tract written by DeShazer, translated into Japanese and widely distributed by Bible League International (BLI). Fuchida's subsequent intensive study of the Bible and discovery of the truth was quite similar to DeShazer's own conversion experience, and the two men spent many years evangelizing together in Japan and around the world.

Train Up a Child ...

DeShazer's formative years were spent in Madras, OR, where he and his family faithfully attended the local Free Methodist church. But during his high school years, he slowly drifted from his Christian moorings.

Perhaps that's why, as his parachute carried him down toward a very uncertain future on that foggy night in 1942, DeShazer thought it would be "dishonest" to pray. So he didn't. (He was not without prayer cover, however. At that very hour, his mother awakened suddenly with a strange feeling of being dropped down through the air. She prayed, in great distress, until the burden was gone and sleep returned. She had absolutely no knowledge at the time -- nor did most of the United States -- of the Doolittle Raid or her son's participation in it.)

Later, DeShazer recalls, before fellow captive Lt. Robert J. Meder died of malnutrition in December 1943, he said, "Jake, Jesus Christ is the key to all of this."

DeShazer continues, "And I thought, so what does that have to do with it? Jesus Christ was a long time ago. I couldn't understand it. But when I became a Christian, I knew what Meder was talking about."

Life Sentence: Solitary Confinement

Bombardier Cpl. DeShazer and the other fliers from his plane (pilot Lt. William Farrow, co-pilot Lt. Robert L. Hite, navigator Lt. George Barr and engineer/gunner Harold A. Spatz) were beaten and interrogated in Nan king, then flown to Tokyo. There they learned of the three other captives, survivors from plane No. 6: pilot Lt. Dean E. Hallmark, co-pilot Meder and navigator Lt. Chase J. Nielsen. (Their two other crewmen had drowned when they crash-landed off the coast of China.)

Mistreatment was constant. On one occasion, DeShazer was forced to kneel and was beaten severely during an inquisition. Nielsen was handcuffed and hung for about eight hours from a peg on the wall with his toes barely touching the floor. Others were stretched out on boards with towels over their faces. Water was poured over them repeatedly, nearly suffocating them.

After two months, they were transferred to "Bridge House" in Shanghai, back on mainland China. Already in poor physical condition from beatings and a lack of food, DeShazer and his compatriots were thrown into a 12-by-15-foot cell with 15 Chinese prisoners, two of them women. The eight men received only a cup of boiled rice soup for breakfast each day, 4 ounces of bread for lunch and dinner and approximately 2 quarts of water to share among them. The room was so small the entire group couldn't even lie down at one time.

Meanwhile, the Japanese military leadership couldn't agree about what to do with the captured Raiders. One group wanted them treated like other POWs; the other considered them "war criminals" and wanted them immediately tried and executed. A compromise was reached (no one knows the specific rationale behind it), and three of the captives (Farrow, Hallmark and Spatz) were executed on Oct. 15, 1942. The others were sentenced to life imprisonment in solitary confinement -- though none of this was officially communicated to the eight men.

Following 70 days in the horrific environment of Bridge House, a mock trial was held and the men were transferred to another Shanghai prison where they were placed in 5-by-8-foot cells with small slits in the doors. They were not allowed to speak out loud except to say "hello" to each other when they cleaned their cells. Their first inkling that something had happened to three of their members was when they failed to show up during these times. Later, they learned of the executions from one of their guards.

They had no books, no paper and pencils, no news from outside. The summers were severely hot, the winters bitterly cold. DeShazer became increasingly fearful of physical disease and of losing his mental capabilities.

Heaven Comes Down

When they were transferred to Nan king in 1943, things got better -- although this is where Meder eventually died.

DeShazer remembers, "One day they called us out of our prison cells, and we didn't know whether we were going to be shot, or what was going to happen -- they were always promising to execute us. But instead, they had an interpreter who told us that the emperor of Japan had written a letter saying he was ashamed at the way they'd been treating us prisoners of war ... and they should treat us better. So they gave us bread to eat with our rotten potato peel soup."

They also promised to give the men some books and a Bible, but DeShazer -- who had been doing a lot of thinking and was most anxious to get his hands on a Bible -- was the lowest-ranking of the group and was forced to wait. When his turn finally came, he could only keep the coveted volume for three weeks.

"When I got that Bible," he recalls, "I thought about how the Christians believed the Bible -- believed it was the Word of God. And God didn't lie. And so I read that Bible to find evidence that it is the Word of God. And right away I found the evidence."

In his dimly lit cell, DeShazer read the entire Bible several times through and the Prophets six times. He spent many hours tracing prophecies to their fulfillment and memorizing the Sermon on the Mount, the Epistle of 1 John and other verses that spoke to his quickening heart.

He must have gotten the Bible again later because he remembers that on June 8, 1944, he received assurance of his salvation when his eyes fell once again on Romans 10:9. "Boy, that hit me! It was the best news I'd ever heard in my life. There are just two things: you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart. And I did! I believed at that time -- and I do yet -- it's God's Word. I believe heaven came down there in that prison cell."

DeShazer recalls one opportunity he was given as a new convert to "try out" the principles of Scripture, in particular the command to love your enemies. "I was supposed to put the food into the cells, and when I finished the job, the guard said, 'get back in your prison cell and hurry up!' He slapped me on the back and was kicking me, and I was trying to get away from him as fast as I could. But I had to pull my shoes off before I could go into the cell and I got one foot inside when he slammed the door and caught my other foot in the door jamb. And he was kicking my foot with his big old shoes. I didn't know what to do at first -- I'd been in solitary confinement and my thinking was so slow. Finally I pushed back on the door real hard, got my foot free and got in.
"The first thing I thought was He's too mean! Jesus doesn't expect us to love those real mean ones. But Jesus says in the Scripture I'd memorized, 'love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' So the next morning, I was all ready for that guard and I wanted to show him I didn't have any more resentment or bitterness about his treatment. I could tell by the way he was walking who he was. And when he came by, I went up to that little slit in the door and I smiled and said, 'Good morning!' in Japanese."

DeShazer kept up his efforts at kindness and recalls what happened with a chuckle. "About the sixth day after he'd kicked me and been so mean, he slid back the little door where we got our food and handed me in a boiled sweet potato. So I thought, boy, this way really works!"

During the final months of their captivity, in Peking, the men were in poor conditions once again. Each prisoner had to sit all day on a small "bench" -- essentially a 2-by-4 about 8 inches long -- facing the rear wall of his cell.
It was here, on Aug. 10, 1945, that DeShazer heard the Lord audibly directing him to pray for peace -- without ceasing. He did so, until precisely 2:30 p.m., when he sensed he was to stop. Unknown to him and his comrades, atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki within the previous five days, and the emperor's surrender would be broadcast on Aug. 15. God was at work. The war was over. The captives were set free.

Return to the Land of the Rising Sun

Less than a month later, DeShazer was attending Seattle Pacific University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in three years, met and married Florence Matheny of Toddville, IA, and had the first of his five children.
The DeShazer's' arrival in Yokohama on Dec. 28, 1948, was greeted with much curiosity and interest from the Japanese. DeShazer recalls their eager questioning: "What happened to you? Why did you come back? Didn't they hit you and spit on you and treat you mean? Why do you want to come back here? ... And I started to tell them all about Jesus."

And tell them he did! After their emperor disavowed his divinity in 1946, DeShazer found the Japanese eager to learn about -- and respond to -- the God of Christianity. It is estimated that there were some 30,000 conversions during DeShazer's first year in Japan -- as many as 10,000 during one 10-day campaign. Included were many of DeShazer's former prison guards, even the one who had delivered the Bible to the prisoners in Nan king.

In his second year, greatly burdened for revival, DeShazer undertook a 40-day fast. The miraculous conversion of Fuchida took place at this time. Soon thereafter, DeShazer and his longtime interpreter Kaneo Oda, president of Osaka Christian College, traveled extensively as revival spread through the nation. During 16 days of meetings in coal mines on the island of Kyushu, nearly 4,000 decisions were recorded.

In 1959, just returned from their first furlough and at the request of Japanese Christians, the DeShazer’s settled in Nagoya (where his bombs had fallen 17 years earlier). English classes and Florence's flannel-board presentations attracted young and old alike, and a church was born.

The DeShazer’s started several Free Methodist churches during their years in Japan, and Jake's humble-yet-powerful testimony helped strengthen and expand many more.

War and Remembrance

Every year on April 18, the surviving Doolittle Raiders gather somewhere in the United States for a reunion. Eighty individually engraved silver goblets line the table. Those of the men who have died are turned over; those of the living are turned up. (There were only 25 remaining as of June 2001, and DeShazer was one month shy of being the oldest.) A toast is given "to those who have gone." DeShazer drinks his with water, but his story is really one of blood -- the blood of war, and the blood of Christ: that precious blood that covers every sin, enables the forgiving of enemies, sustains hope, brings love. ... And that is why the true story of Jacob DeShazer -- the Doolittle Raider who traded bombs for Bibles -- will always be better than anything Hollywood could devise.

 

This article was found at the following link:
http://www.freemethodistchurch.org/Magazine/Articles/Sept-Oct%20Articles/S-O%20World%20View.htm

 

I Am the Praying Mother of Jacob DeShazer
Taken from Missionary Tidings, April 1957


My story is not one of boastful pride, but of witness to the goodness of the God who ever hears and answers the intercessory, pleading prayers of a Christian mother. My son, Jacob DeShazer, is a living example of what the Lord can do for any mother who really "gets hold of God" for the solving of every trial and problem in the rearing of sons and daughters.

My son became a soldier of the United States, and was assigned to duty in the air corps. After basic training at various airfields, he was in 1942 assigned to secret duty in special training for one of the most dangerous missions on which American airmen ever flew.

I saw Jacob in Portland in March 1942, little realizing what the future held in store for him and the family. From Portland he returned to a southern training base, and a few letters were received from him. Then one day the letter and pack ages I had sent him were returned, and we knew not where he had been transferred.

After Jacob had been gone several weeks, I awakened suddenly one night with a strange feeling like unto being dropped down, down, down through the air. Oh, the terrible burden that weighed upon my soul! I prayed and cried out to God in my distress. Suddenly the burden was gone, and I drifted off into an untroubled sleep, something unusual for me. (Comparing the time here with the time in occupied China, it was just the time when Jacob had had to parachute from his falling plane.) How I praise the Lord now, but of course then I didn't realize or know what was taking place so far away. When we heard in the war news that our airmen had been over Tokyo dropping bombs, little did I realize that my own precious boy was in the crew of one of the planes.

The next thing that happened was when Portland Journal news men called us to find out something about our boy, and asked for his picture as one of the men taking part in the Doolittle raid over Tokyo. No one can realize the agony, pain and sorrow we suffered as we heard that the Japanese were holding him as a prisoner, for the stories of the barbarous cruelty of the captors had been told again and again.

One day when I was at home alone, I started to offer thanks for my little lunch when suddenly a terrible burden gripped me. I walked the floor praying, and then knelt beside a chair and cried unto the Lord, "O God, my heart just can't stand this any longer. Oh, give me something as a witness or comfort. Oh, if Jacob were only saved and ready for heaven!" Then in a most wonderful way I heard God speak, "I took care of him in this country; I can take care of him wherever he is." I said, "Yes, Lord, 1 know Thou canst do it." And then, O praise the Lord, the burden was again lifted, and I was sure all the Japanese in Japan could not kill him if God wanted him to live. O wonderful, wonderful Savior! He is a God who hears and answers prayers; a present, living, eternal, heavenly Father.

But a little later there came the renewal of another burden--the burden for Jacob's soul. If I could only know that he was saved, I could give him up if it should be God's will that I should never see him again. Again a promise came from God: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9. (It was about this time that God spoke to Jacob in his prison cell in Japan, and Jacob surrendered his life to Christ, as is recounted in "l Was a Prisoner of Japan.")

Another burden concerned Jacob's daily food. We knew not whether he was being starved, though the reports of the cruelty of the Japanese military indicated that no prisoner was ever given enough to more than maintain life in the body. At times we would sit down to eat, and someone would remark, "I wonder if Jake has anything to eat," and we would leave the table with our food untouched.

One day there came the awful news -- the prisoners were all to be executed. I cried again unto the Lord, and again He spoke to me, saying, "His angels do watch over him." Well, I thought, what better company could he have? (Quote from Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Ted Law- son: "The Japanese captured two of our crews. Later, when they bragged about it over the air and said they had convicted our fellows of 'inhuman acts,' they mentioned only four men. They mentioned Bill Farrow, Dean Hallmark, Sergeant Harold Spatz and Corporal Jacob DeShazer. The Japs said at first that these men would be put to death if Japan were bombed again." The first three were executed by a firing squad, but Jacob DeShazer was spared through a miracle of God.)

Finally in August, 1945, the news flashed over the radio that some of the Doolittle men had been found alive, and that our boy was one of them. Oh, the boundless joy! God had heard and answered my every prayer.

When Jacob was returned to the United States, very thin and weak, I learned that God had not only spared his life, but had saved his soul in his prison cell, and then had called him to preach the everlasting, glorious gospel of redeeming love to the people of Japan. Yes, my every prayer had been answered: prayer for the preservation of his life; prayer for the salvation of his soul; and prayer for God to use him for some useful service in life. Glorious, wonderful, loving God-He is the ever dependable trust for the heart of a praying mother.

In conclusion, I plead with you parents -- pray, pray, pray for your children. Hold them up daily at the Throne of God. He will not fail you if you have first given yourself wholly over unto Him.

This article was found at the following link:
http://www.freemethodistchurch.org/Magazine/Articles/Sept-Oct%20Articles/DeShazer%27s%20Mother%27s%20Story.htm

I Was a Prisoner of Japan
By Jacob DeShazer 

I was a prisoner of war for 40 long months, 34 of them in solitary confinement.

When I flew as a member of a bombing squadron on a raid over enemy territory on April 18, 1942, my heart was filled with bitter hatred for the people of that nation. When our plane ran out of petrol and the members of the crew of my plane had to parachute down into enemy-held territory and were captured by the enemy, the bitterness of my heart against my captors seemed more than I could bear. 

Taken to prison with the survivors of another of our planes, we were imprisoned and beaten, half-starved, terribly tortured, and denied by solitary confinement even the comfort of association with one another. Three of my buddies were executed by a firing squad about six months after our capture and 14 months later, another one of them died of slow starvation. My hatred for the enemy nearly drove me crazy. 

It was soon after the latter's death that I began to ponder the cause of such hatred between members of the human race. I wondered what it was that made one people hate another people and what made me hate them. 

My thoughts turned toward what I heard about Christianity changing hatred between human beings into real brotherly love and I was gripped with a strange longing to examine the Christian's Bible to see if I could find the secret. 

I begged my captors to get a Bible for me. At last, in the month of May, 1944, a guard brought me the book, but told me I could have it only for three weeks. 

I eagerly began to read its pages. Chapter after chapter gripped my heart. In due time I came to the books of the prophets and found that their every writing seemed focused on a divine Redeemer from sin, One who was to be sent from heaven to be born in the form of a human babe. Their writings so fascinated me that I read them again and again until I had earnestly studied them through six times. Then I went on into the New Testament and there read of the birth of Jesus Christ, the One who actually fulfilled the very prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and the other Old Testament writers. 

My heart rejoiced as I found confirmed in Acts 10:43, "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name, whosoever believeth on Him shall receive remission of sins." After I carefully read this book of the Acts, I continued on into the study of the epistle Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome. 

On June 8, 1944 the words in Romans 10:9 stood out boldly before my eyes: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." 

That very moment, God gave me grace to confess my sins to Him and He forgave me all my sins and saved me for Jesus' sake. I later found that His Word again promises this so clearly in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 

How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was suffering so terribly from the physical beatings and lack of food! But suddenly I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes and that when I looked at the enemy officers and guards who had starved and beaten my companions and me so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity. 

I realized that these people did not know anything about my Savior and that if Christ is not in a heart, it is natural to be cruel. I read in my Bible that while those who crucified Jesus had beaten Him and spit upon Him before He was nailed to the cross, on the cross He tenderly prayed in His moment of excruciating suffering, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." 

And now, from the depths of my heart, I too prayed for God to forgive my torturers, and I determined by the aid of Christ to do my best to acquaint these people with the message of salvation that they might become as other believing Christians. 

With His love controlling my heart, the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians took on a living meaning: "Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in truth; beareth all things, believeth all things. Love never faileth." 

A year passed by and during that year the memories of the weeks I had been permitted to spend with my Bible grew sweeter and sweeter day by day. Then, one day as I was sitting in my solitary confinement cell I became very sick. My heart was paining me, even as my fellow prisoner had told me his was paining him just before he died of starvation. 

I slid down onto my knees and began to pray. The guards rushed in and began to punish me, but I kept right on praying. Finally they let me alone. God, in that hour, revealed unto me how to endure suffering. 

At last freedom came. On August 20, 1945 parachutists dropped onto the prison grounds and released us from our cells. We were flown back to our own country and placed in hospitals where we slowly regained our physical strength. 

I have completed my training in a Christian college, God having clearly commanded me: "Go, teach those people who held you prisoner, the way of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ," and am now back in that land as a missionary, with one single purpose--to make Christ known. 

I am sending this testimony to people everywhere, with the earnest prayer that a great host of people may confess Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. 

Signed:

Jacob DeShazer - 1950

Veteran of Doolittle Raid dies at age 95

Salem resident was captive of Japan in World War II

ALAN GUSTAFSON - Statesman Journal - Salem Oregon - March 18, 2008

Jacob DeShazer of Salem took part in World War II's legendary Doolittle Raid, endured more than three years as a Japanese prisoner of war and later teamed up with his wife, Florence, to serve as a Methodist missionary in Japan for nearly 30 years.

DeShazer, 95, died Saturday night at the Lancaster Village assisted-living facility, said Ruth Kutrakun, the youngest of the couple's five children.

"He passed away peacefully in his sleep at home," she said.

Kutrakun characterized her father as a gentle and humble man with a lively sense of humor. His life was centered around faith, family and country, she said.

"My dad was just an incredible person," Kutrakun said. "He had a sense of honor and duty. He served his country, but more importantly he served his Lord. He had deep faith, and during his time as a prisoner of war he was convinced that he needed to forgive his enemy. After that, he spent his life spreading the message of love and forgiveness.

"We're all going to miss him. I think everybody that knew him felt like they knew someone special."

DeShazer's fervent faith was forged during harrowing events.

On April 18, 1942, he was among nearly 80 fliers whose bombs struck targets in Tokyo and Nagoya. It become known as the Doolittle Raid — the United States' first air attack on Japan, by Lt. Col. James Doolittle and his Raiders.

Most of the 16 planes taking part in the raid lacked enough fuel to reach the planned refueling point and crashed or were ditched over China. DeShazer and his crew bailed out near the coast of China.

Captured and held in a cramped Chinese prison cell, DeShazer withstood 40 months of solitary confinement, interrogation, torture and threats of execution. He was fortified by a born-again religious experience that came while reading the Bible — the only book his captors allowed him.

"My hatred for the enemy nearly drove me crazy," DeShazer said during a 2001 interview. "My thoughts turned toward what I had heard about Christianity changing hatred between human beings into real brotherly love."

In August 1945, DeShazer's POW stint ended. He was freed by U.S. troops who parachuted into China shortly after Hiroshima was leveled by an atomic bomb.

Back in the United States, he enrolled at Seattle Pacific College, now Seattle Pacific University, a Christian school, and trained to be a missionary.

He met Florence Matheny in spring 1946, and they married that August. In 1948, the young couple moved to Japan. Initially, they lived in Nagoya, the city DeShazer bombed during the Doolittle Raid.

During three decades as missionaries, the couple helped start 16 churches in cities throughout Japan.

One of those converted to Christianity by DeShazer's testimony was Mitsuo Fuchida, the former Japanese pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. After reading a tract that DeShazer had written, called "I Was a Prisoner of Japan," Fuchida began to study the Bible. He became a Christian and spent the rest of his life as a missionary.

Bonded by their experiences, DeShazer and Fuchida met and became friends.

"I saw him just before he died," DeShazer said in 2001, recalling their last meeting. "We shared in that good, wonderful thing that Christ has done."

The DeShazer's retired from missionary work in 1977 and, upon returning to the U.S., settled in Salem.

In 2001, DeShazer was a special guest at the premiere showing of the movie "Pearl Harbor." He was invited to view the film aboard a Navy ship moored in Pearl Harbor. In 2005, he was inducted into the Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor.

In addition to his wife and their five children, DeShazer is survived by 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.

agustafs@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6709
 

WWII vet honored for his service, faith

Hundreds recall Jacob DeShazer's missionary work

The Doolittle Raid may have first made Jacob DeShazer famous, but his friends and family say it was a mission of a different sort that was most important to him: his missionary work.

"We just want to be used by God, and that was his heart's cry," said Doug Bailey, the pastor of Salem First Free Methodist Church.

Friends, family and community members celebrated DeShazer's life Saturday during a memorial service at the Methodist church on Silverton Road NE and a graveside service at Restlawn Memory Gardens. DeShazer died March 15 at Lancaster Village assisted-living facility at age 95.

Hundreds of people honored the Salem native for his military and missionary service. Many recalled his part in World War II's Doolittle Raid when he was among nearly 80 flyers whose bombs hit Tokyo and Nagoya in what was the United States' first air attack on Japan.

Ed Horton, one of 11 Doolittle Raiders still alive, said DeShazer was a "cut above."

"I had an awful lot of respect for him," said the 92-year-old, who flew in from Florida.

DeShazer endured more than three years as a Japanese prisoner of war before teaming up with his wife, Florence, to serve as a Methodist missionary in Japan for nearly 30 years. There, he helped start 23 churches, his family members said.

"I told thousands of people about Jesus," DeShazer said in a video played during his memorial service.

Many described DeShazer as a humble and caring man, who loved his friends and family. They said he would want people to love one another and serve Jesus.

"He wouldn't want this service to be about his life and his accomplishments," said Ruth Kutrakun, the youngest of the DeShazers' five children. "He'd want Jesus to get all of the credit."

At the cemetery earlier Saturday, dozens of people gathered around DeShazer's casket and his family. Members of the McChord Air Force Base Honor Guard honored him with a gun salute. A single bugler then played taps as part of the full military honors.

Moments later, the crowd looked up at the sky and cheered as a single B1-B bomber from the 34th Bomb Squadron flew overhead and then disappeared into the clouds. The Doolittle Raiders were part of the 34th, now based at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

Honor Guard members silently folded the American flag that draped DeShazer's casket, which Sgt. Douglas Pecor presented to his wife.

After words from pastor Bailey and a prayer, family members — and later others — took turns laying yellow roses on DeShazer's casket as everyone sang one of his favorite songs, "When the roll is called up yonder."

"Jake's a hero," Pecor said after the service. "This is why we do military honors, to honor people like Jake. He's history."

ekim@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6721

Copyright 2008 Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon

Sgt. Wes Fields of Fort Walton Beach, Florida (left), escorts Sgt. Ed Horton of Fort Walton Beach, Florida at the end of the funeral service for World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer on Saturday, March 29, 2008.

DeShazer's niece Angelin Blackwell of Salem (left), hugs DeShazer's daughter Ruth Kutrakun of Seattle at the funeral service on Saturday, March 29, 2008.   Family and friends console Florence DeShazer (right) as she sits with her sister Phyllis Matheny of Alaska (left) on Saturday, March 29, 2008.   Family members place roses on the casket of World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer on Saturday, March 29, 2008.

Florence DeShazer places a rose on her husband's casket on Saturday, March 29, 2008.   Members of the McChord Air Force base honor guard fold a U.S. flag over the casket of World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer on Saturday, March 29, 2008.   Members of the McChord Air Force base honor guard carry flags during the funeral service for World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer on Saturday, March 29, 2008.

Jacob DeShazer's military metals are on display during his funeral service on Saturday, March 29, 2008.   McChord Air Force base honor guard Sgt. Douglas Pecor gives Florence DeShazer a U.S. flag at Jacob DeShazer's funeral service on Saturday, March 29, 2008.

Members of the McChord Air Force base honor guard carry the casket of late World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer on Saturday, March 29, 2008.   A funeral service is held for the late World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer in the Restlawn Memory Gardens on Saturday, March 29, 2008.   Members of the McChord Air Force base honor guard carry the casket of late World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer on Saturday, March 29, 2008.

A special fly-over of a B-1B bomber honors the late World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer at his graveside service in the Restlawn Memory Gardens on Saturday, March 29, 2008. DeShazer, 95, of Salem died March 15. DeShazer took part in the Doolittle Raid and was a Japanese prisoner of war.   A special fly-over of a B-1B bomber honors the late World War II veteran Jacob DeShazer at his graveside service in the Restlawn Memory Gardens on Saturday, March 29, 2008.

 

 

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