How I Met Jake DeShazer

A little Jake DeShazer Background

Jacob DeShazer was one of the crew that flew with Lt. Col.Jimmy Doolittle on the famous Doolittle Raid bombing Japan. He was the bombardier of B-25 #16, commanded by Lt. William G. Farrow, the last of the 16 B-25s to launch from the USS Hornet on the bombing run over Tokyo.

After bombing Nagoya in Japan, #16 attempted to reach safe haven in China. DeShazer and the rest of the B-25 crew were forced to parachute into enemy territory over Ningpo, China when their B-25 ran out of fuel. DeShazer was injured in his fall into a cemetery and along with the rest of his crew, he was captured the very next day by the Japanese. During his captivity, DeShazer was sent to Tokyo with the survivors of another Doolittle crew, and was held in a series of P.O.W. camps both in Japan and China for 40 months — 34 of them in solitary confinement. He was severely beaten and malnourished while three of the crew were executed by a firing squad, and another died of slow starvation.

During his captivity, DeShazer persuaded one of his guards to loan him a copy of the Bible. Although he only had possession of the Bible for three weeks, he saw its messages as the reason for his survival and resolved to become a devout Christian. His conversion included learning a few words of Japanese and treating his captors with respect, which resulted in the guards reacting in a similar fashion. After his release, DeShazer entered Seattle Pacific College, a Christian college, and began studying to be a missionary, eventually to return to Japan with his wife, Florence, in 1948.

DeShazer, the Doolittle Raider who bombed Nagoya, metCaptain Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, becoming close friends. Fuchida became a Christian in 1950 after reading a tract written about DeShazer titled, I Was a Prisoner of Japan, and spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Asia and the United States. On occasion, DeShazer and Fuchida preached together as Christian missionaries in Japan. In 1959, DeShazer moved to Nagoya to establish a Christian church in the city he had bombed.

December 7th, 2009 – How I Met Jake Deshazer

I met Jake DeShazer!!! Yes, I grew up in an orphanage in South Philadelphia. I sat in the hallways of that orphanage during air-raid black-outs. My uncle’s hand was blown up fighting the Japanese. I hated the “Japs” as I called them. But through a miracle of God, I got saved the very day the emperor of Japan went on the radio in Tokyo, Japan to tell the Japanese people that they had surrendered and the war was over. But that is another story. Well, that night, August 15, 1945 was the turning point in my life. Not only did I get saved, but God called me as a missionary. The only country I could think of was; you guessed it, Japan!

Upon graduation from high school, I volunteered for military service. And where do you think I was sent; you guessed it, Japan! I was there during the World War II Army of Occupation.

Again God began working on my heart. I didn’t want to meet a missionary, but I met Ike Foster. Ike was the first man to put his long arms on my shoulders and call me “son.” He’s not that much older than me, but he’s been like a dad to me. Anyway, I surrendered to come back to Japan as a missionary one Sunday while attending the Chiba Bible Baptist Church, which Ike Foster started.

Returning to Japan along with my wife Dixie and 2 year-old son Ike (named after Ike Foster), we went to Nagoya. There I had the privilege of holding a city-wide meeting with Jake DeShazer. I recall him facing that congregation in downtown Nagoya as he related to the Japanese how that he bombed Nagoya. He told how that he found Christ and was back; not with bombs, but with the Bible. It was a privilege to meet and work with Jake DeShazer.

My love for the Japanese continues today. Dixie is now in heaven and I miss her more than you can imagine. Her last words to me just before she left for heaven were, “Carry on the work the God gave us to do.” I am doing just that. In addition to my Japanese Church service in Springfield, Missouri, I am now on the internet radio all over Japan 10 times a week in both Japanese and English.

So that’s my encounter with Jake DeShazer.

More Jake DeShazer Background

Sent: Monday, December 07, 2009 1:43 AM


Jacob DeShazer was one of those Sunday School statistics that all churches carry on the books and often lament; attended each week but in the end no visible sign of conversion or spiritual growth. His faithful Sunday school teacher’s name is now lost to our memory but her deeds are recorded on high and part of her story retold here below.

The young teenager was attending school in the United States while her parents served as missionaries to the Philippine Islands just prior to W.W.II. And although their identity remains a mystery their testimony does not. When we gather around the throne of God, in that land beyond the shore, I am sure the untold stories of long ago forgotten missionaries will be rehearsed and then we will discover exactly what they prayed in their lonely mountain retreat on the last day of their earthly life.

He was on KP duty peeling potatoes while listening to the radio when the broadcast was suddenly interrupted, “Early this morning the Japanese Air Force launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The loss of life is great with the destruction of much of the United States Pacific Fleet and Air Force. There now exists a state for war between the United States and Japan.” Hate and anger overwhelmed him as Corporal DeShazer stood throwing his potatoes to the ground shouting, “Japs… wait and see what we do to you!”

When the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands the middle aged American missionary couple fled to the mountains in Northern Luzon. Their they carried on with the Lord’s work unnoticed and without incident. I am sure they must have discovered the secret, “… in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.”

Soon the young corporal volunteered for a dangerous mission as a bombardier. He and the others were not told the nature of this never before tried tactic until they had been given specialist training and were well on their way to their destination. On 1 April 1942, sixteen B-25 North American bombers were hoisted to the deck of the Aircraft Carrier Hornet in San Francisco Bay where the now Sergeant DeShazer waited to deploy to the front lines.

When news reached the young teenager her parents had been killed by the retreating Japanese Army she was devastated. Hate and anger overwhelmed her fragile spirit. “How could God let this happen to my parents, to me and my family,” she cried. She became bitter and tormented by rage and despair.

Finally, out to sea, the announcement rang out from the loudspeakers aboard the Hornet, “Our objective is the bombing of Tokyo,” and the ship EXPLODED into cheers. At last America would strike at the heart of the Imperial Empire. On 18 April 1942 Jimmy Doolittle’s Raiders launched their fully loaded bombers for the first time from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This was a one way trip as there was not enough fuel to return nor was it possible to re-land a bomber on the deck of a ship dipping and bobbing in the open seas. After dropping their full load of bombs on Nagoya Sergeant DeShazar’s crew headed for a prearranged airfield in Chaing-Kia-Shek’s China only to run out of fuel forcing them to bail out into the dark unknown.

It wasn’t until some time later, towards the end of the war, that she finally discovered what had really happened to her parents in the mountains of Northern Luzon. When the Americans invaded the Philippines, the Japanese were forced to retreat into the mountains where they found the faithful missionary couple hiding. Accused of being spies they pleaded for their lives reassuring the Japanese they were only there as civilians serving God and the people. To no avail, their pleas fell on hard hearts and they were sentenced to death but their prayers didn’t fall on deaf ears for God, as usual, was already at work.

After the attack on Tokyo Jimmy Doolittle and others found themselves behind enemy lines in China but were rescued by independent Baptist missionary John Birch who secreted them out of the country. Providentially bombardier DeShazar dropped from the skies in the dark of the night, also behind enemy lines, and was taken prisoner by the Japanese and convicted of the war crime of strafing a civilian Japanese fishing boat on his failed attempt at landing in China.

They asked their captors for and received one last request; to read and pray before being shot. What did the missionaries read and pray in their last 30 minutes on earth? Most of us will never know how much time we have left on earth before we stand before God but if you do what will your last request be? When their daughter, now in her late teens, heard the report of her parents final few minutes on earth she recalled their teaching her from the scripture and became convinced they had read and prayed, “Matt. 6:15   But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Luke 23:34   Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do… .”

The torture he endured at the hands of the Japs only increased his hate for his captors. Day by day DeShazar’s bitterness was heard and seen by the guards but day by day his thoughts turned towards home and finally to a Sunday School where a teacher faithfully taught him the Word of God. He begged for and was eventually given a bible by one of his guards. He read it from cover to cover and as he did the Lord opened his heart and made him a new man in Christ. Now freed from his prison of rage and anger he no longer reviled his captors but began to see them with new eyes and to speak to them with a new tongue and love them with his new heart just as God loved him.

She volunteered to serve in a prisoner of war camp for captured Japanese soldiers. See, she was no longer bound by her hate and fear of those who had murdered her missionary parents for she had been freed by the love God which was shed abroad in her heart through Jesus Christ. She tended the wounded and lonely soldiers. She encouraged them and told them she would do for them anything they asked if it were within her power to do so. When asked one day by one of the prisoners why she was always smiling and so sweet to her enemies she replied, “because the Japanese army killed my parents.” This astounding answer confounded those for whom she cared for. This is not the right answer! One should hate ones enemies not love them. Instead, she had learned to embrace her circumstances in love by the power of God.

The one major event which led to so much hate and anger on the part of Americans towards the Japanese was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Two thousand three hundred and ninety soldiers, airmen and sailors lost their lives in an unprovoked sneak attack designed to rid the world of America’s influence in the South Seas. In all, the Imperial Japanese Navy bombed and torpedoed 9 battleships, 3 destroyers, 1 light cruiser, 1 minelayer, 1 flagship, 1 repair ship. Sixteen vessels were either severely crippled or totally destroyed. Most of the fighter planes which were parked wing tip to wing tip were destroyed at the Army Air Force Wheeler and Hickman Fields. The brave unsuspecting service men and women were torn to shreds by strafing Japanese fighter planes flown by crazed men who would someday, in desperation and hate, offer themselves as Kami Kaze pilots.

The worst hit and greatest loss of life was aboard the Arizona. First, the torpedoes struck her hull followed 10 minutes later by a armour piercing bomb hitting the ship’s magazine store turning 1,000,000 pounds of gunpowder into a hell on earth with a fireball that killed at least 1,177 men. The force of the blast was so great it lifted the ship 15-20 feet out of the water. Nine minutes later she lay at the bottom of the harbor. Truly a day to be remembered in “infamy.”

Jacob DeShazar returned to the United States after the war to attend bible college and upon graduation sailed again from San Francisco Bay, this time, not as a bombardier but now as a missionary to Japan. He wrote a little gospel tract telling his story of hate and anger to love and compassion and stood at bus stops and train stations freely passing them out. One fell into the hands of a former pilot of the Japanese Imperial Navy, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida. Mitsuo retired in humiliation at the end of the war to become a farmer and was bitter with life and the Americans. He had lived for and had been willing to die for his Emperor and country. Shame, anger, hate were all the elements of the spiritual storm raging in his soul. Once recognized in uniform as a very important person he was now a lowly farmer who had failed in his life’s mission in defending his country.

One day Mitsuo met a friend who had also been a former pilot in the Japanese Imperial Navy. He had been shot down, captured and interned in a prisoner of war camp. Mitsuo asked how he had been treated. He confessed he had been treated well and related to Mitsuo the most strange and yet profound experience of meeting a young American girl, about 20 years of age, working in the prison camp as a volunteer aid. In spite of the fact her parents had been killed by the Japanese Army, “she expressed her love towards us in the most humble and selfless ways.” It just didn’t make any sense to either man! You are supposed to hate your enemies and love your friends. Mitsuo thought about DeShazar’s little tract where he expressed the same kind of love. He determined to find a bible and to read for himself where this strange power came from.

Just as he acquired his bible he read, like a message from heaven, an editorial in a local newspaper. The article said, “the Bible is the world’s best seller and has been translated into all the languages of the civilized world.” The commentator continued, “if a Christian were banished to a deserted island and could have only one book he would ask for a Bible.” With this, he read his new bible from cover to cover and as he did the Lord opened his heart and made him a new man in Christ. Now freed from his prison of rage and anger he no longer reviled the Americans but began to see them with new eyes and to speak to them with a new tongue and love them with his new heart just as God loved him.

I don’t know the name of DeShazar’s Sunday school teacher nor do I know who the missionary daughter was or for that matter who wrote the article in the paper encouraging the Japanese to read the bible but I do know that each of them had embraced the providence of God and had been freed from their hate, anger and despair. We will all, sooner or later, experience our own personal Pearl Harbor. The question is, will you embrace God’s providence in love and compassion?

It was 6:00 AM, 7 December 1941, 68 years ago today, when the pilots scrambled to their cockpits. The roaring engines were music to Mitsuo ears as he prepared to put his bird into the air from the deck of the aircraft carrier. He was proud to embark, for his beloved Emperor and country, on the most important mission of his life. He, along with 358 other pilots, would wreck havoc on the Americans at Pearl Harbor. At precisely 7:49 AM, Mitsuo cried through his radio, “TORA TORA TORA” (ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK). You see, Captain Mitsuo Fuchida was the Commander of the first air fleet of the Japanese Imperial Navy and it was his place in history to lead Japan into a world war.

We don’t know the whole story of each of these that came to terms with their personal Pearl Harbors nor will we until we sit down and rehearse it together in heaven but this I do know that Mitsuo, from the beginning of his new service under his new Commander and Chief, Jesus Christ, faithfully preached His love and forgiveness until the day he died on 30 May 1976.

The truth is God “works all things after the council of His own will” and though I most often don’t completely understand His purpose I also know this, that “all things work together for good to them that love God to them who are called according to his purpose.” Today there are more Christians, more bibles and more churches in Iraq than there has ever been the history of that ancient civilization just as there are today in Japan. We spend millions of dollars sending missionaries with the gospel to Mexico, South and Central America and then become angry and resentful because those same people pour across our border by the hundreds of thousands.  We must learn to embrace the providence of God, open our hearts and share with them the love of Jesus Christ.

Next time you visit us in London, ask and I will share with you a first edition, autographed copy, of Captain Mitsuo Fuchida book entitled ‘From Pearl Harbor to Golgotha’.



PS Please forgive me. I know I have shared this story with this list before but my mother insisted I share it with everyone I know again. She was 10 years old when America went to war with Japan. As a little girl she remembers hiding under her desk in school and sitting in the hallways during air raid drills and singing with the other children patriotic and Christian songs. Would it be today our children were taught in the schools we pay for with our tax dollars to love God and country. Have a great Christmas everyone!!!