JACOB DESHAZER:

MEMBER OF THE DOOLITTLE RAID

AND A PRISONER OF JAPAN



{About five double-spaced pages long.}



Abstract

The results of Jimmy Doolittle's raid on Japan had a significant effect on the war in the Pacific. (See Glen Hodges and the Battle of Midway.) However, a much different result was that Jacob DeShazer, a participant in the attack, became a Christian after his capture. Even though the Japanese tortured him, DeShazer returned to Japan after the war as an evangelist. Part of his outreach included a pamphlet, I was a Prisoner of Japan. Mitsuo Fuchida, leader of the air attack on Pearl Harbor, read it and became a Christian evangelist himself. The following is DeShazer's pamphlet.

I WAS A PRISONER OF JAPAN

by Jacob DeShazer (1950)

"I was a prisoner of Japan for forty long months, thirty-four of them in solitary confinement

When I flew as a member of General Jimmy Doolittle's squadron on the first raid over Japan on April 18th, 1942, my heart was filled with bitter hatred for the people of that nation. When our plane ran out of gas, and the members of the crew of my plane had to parachute down into Japanese-held territory in China and were captured by the enemy, the bitterness of my heart against my captors seemed more than I could bear.

Taken to Tokyo with the survivors of another of our planes, we were imprisoned and beaten, half-starved, and denied by solitary confinement even the comfort of association with one another, these terrible tortures taking place at Tokyo, Shanghai, Nanking and Peiping. Three of my buddies, Dean Hallmark, Fill Farrow and Harold Spatz, were executed by a firing squad about six months after our capture, and fourteen months later another of them, Bob Meder [a strong Christian], died of slow starvation. My hatred for the Japanese people nearly drove me crazy.

It was soon after Meder'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 the Japanese hate the Americans, and what made me hate the Japanese. my thoughts turned toward what I had 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 the Book, but told me I could have it for only 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 had 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 8th, 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." In 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, even as I later found that His Word again promises 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 Japanese officers and guards who had starved and beaten me and my companions so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity. I realized that these Japanese did not know anything about my Saviour 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 on the cross had beaten Him and spit upon Him before He was nailed to 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 the Japanese people with the message of salvation that they might become as other believing Christians. With His love controlling my heart, the 13th chapter of First 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 the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth 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 as I was sitting in my solitary confinement cell in Peiping, I became very sick. My heart was paining me, even as Meder 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 20th, 1945, American parachutists dropped onto the prison grounds and released us from our cells. We were flown back to the United States 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 the Japanese people the way of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ," and am now in Japan as a missionary, with the one single purpose to lead me - 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 Saviour."

Epilogue

DeShazer served faithfully in Japan. Mitsuo Fuchida, lead pilot on the Pearl Harbor attack, had also survived the war. As he was arriving at Tokyo, he accepted the pamphlet shown at the right. Reading it, he realized that forgiveness was lacking in his own religion. He became a Christian and eventually met DeShazer, who had ended a forty-day fast. (That is why he looks so thin in the 1950 picture; he is thin in the 1945 picture because it was taken two weeks after his release from prison.) Fuchida soon became an evangelist himself, and traveled all over the world. DeShazer has since retired and is living in Oregon (1997).

Acknowledgments

I was a Prisoner of Japan is DeShazer's story as told to Don R. Falkenberg of The Bible Meditation League (BML), 1950. The first picture is courtesy of Jacob DeShazer. The second, marked "1942," is courtesy of Stan Stokes. The third is from the U.S. Air Force. The rest of the pictures are from Bible Literature International, successor to BML. Sharon Ann McMullen did the word processing.