A truly amazing Oregon WWII vet passes away.

One of Oregon’s most amazing WWII veterans died recently — Jacob DeShazer. The Oregonian did a nice story but one of the nation’s largest newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, recognized this Oregonian with a full-blown editorial. I met this humble man and am deeply touched by his life. PLEASE read this memorial.

The veterans of World War II are now at that age where they are dying ever more frequently, and their deaths should be an occasion to remember their achievement and sacrifice. Take the heroism and remarkable forgiveness of Jacob DeShazer, a bombardier on the famous Doolittle raid over Japan of April 18, 1942.

The Doolittle bombing raid was close to a suicide mission, a one-way trip to bring the war to the Japanese homeland for the first time. Coming not long after Pearl Harbor and before the Pacific island victories to come, the raid was a huge boost to domestic morale. Corporal DeShazer was one of five crewmen on Bat Out of Hell, a B-25 aircraft that took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, dropped incendiary bombs over Nagoya, and then flew on to Japanese-occupied China, where the crew was forced to bail out.

DeShazer was taken prisoner, and was starved, beaten and tortured by his Japanese captors. For 34 of his 40 months in captivity, he was kept in solitary confinement. His pilot (Lieutenant William Farrow) and engineer-gunner (Sergeant Harold Spatz) were killed by firing squad. But DeShazer survived the war, was liberated after V-J Day in August 1945, and went on to get a degree in Biblical literature from Seattle Pacific College (now Seattle Pacific University). In 1948, he returned as a Christian missionary to the country that had nearly killed him, and he would continue his ministry in Japan for 30 years.

DeShazer died on March 15 at his home in Salem, Oregon, at age 95. It is one of life’s safer bets that he is resting in peace.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Amen to that! He will be missed.

  • KeizerB

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Jason. I did not have the honor of meeting Mr. DeShazer but what an incredible example for all of us. That a man who fought the Japanese during WWII, was tortured by them after his capture, and then returned to bring the Good News of the Gospel to them is an amazing story. The Oregonian story on him also noted that he was even able to lead one of his captors to Christ! It really underscores what God can do for everyone if we just submit our lives to Him – even after we have been wronged so much by others. Mr DeShazer’s life example is inspiring.

  • LucyK

    What an amazing and inspirational American hero. We need to make sure that his story is told and retold, especially to all those school kids who are getting a daily ration of spoon-fed “news” revolving around pop culture and nonsense.
    Heroes such as DeShazer leave legacies that serve to uplift all that is good about America, and exhibits true faith in a living and merciful God.

  • rick metsger

    I too met this true American hero on a number of occasions and he was an inspiring wealth of knowledge. In fact I have a historical piece from him and his Doolittle team on my wall at the capitol and have had many comments on it over the years. The mission that day was clearly a suicide mission but they volunteered anyway because they put country ahead of self. We are forever grateful for their sacrifice at a time in history when a very distressed America needed an inspirational and emotional lift and these guys did that. Pres. Roosevelt was emphatic about this mission and its role in energizing America. Two months later came Midway and a change in the war in the Pacific that would never turn back. Mr. DeShazer helped make all that happen. LucyK you are spot on. Their legacy should never be forgotten. We are enjoying the lives we have today because of their undaunting courage and devotion.

    • Jason Williams

      Thank you very much for those kind words Senator. Well stated.

  • David


    This is a good read it tells a lot of Mr. Shazer’s story from The Japanese who knew him

  • Phoebe

    I think Metsger’s brining up Midway makes me call to mind that the war was not seen as easy or victorious when they were in the middle of it. That makes me respect these heroes all the more.

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