Jacob De Shazer was part of Lt Col James H (Jimmie) Doolittle’s Bomber Squadron which bombed Tokyo, on April 18, 1942. Sixteen North American B25 bombers rested on the deck of “USS Hornet” until – at 3.15 a.m. – the alarm was given. Battle stations! So it was the first bombing of Japan’s capital city took place. But B25 number 16, named ‘Bat Out of Hell’, ran out of fuel and the crew bailed out over enemy occupied territory in China.
Jacob De Shazer tells how he and his buddies were captured, “imprisoned, beaten and half-starved”. Three fellow crewmembers were executed, and a fourth died of “slow starvation”.
Duriing his 40 months of brutality and solitary confinement De Shazer asked a guard if he might have a Bible. The request was granted. “I eagerly read its pages. Chapter after chapter gripped my heart,” he later wrote.
And then, on 8 June, 1944, “God gave me grace to confess my sins to Him … and He saved me for Jesus’ sake.”
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De Shazer and several other crew members were imprisoned until their liberation a few days after Japan’s surrender in August 1945. After the war, home in America, De Shazer entered Seattle Pacific (Bible) College, and later returned to Japan as a missionary!
One of his first meetings was in the largest auditorium in Osaka – 4000 crowded inside and 3000 listened outside – and Jacob De Shazer (who had once bombed Tokyo), and Mitsuo Fuchida (who once bombed Pearl Harbour and who De Shazer led to faith in 1950), testified together of their common love for the One Who had reconciled them to God … and each other.
De Shazer preached and planted Free Methodist churches in Japan for nearly 30 years, before returning to the USA and retiring. However, he and his wife enjoyed a further 30 years together in retirement.
Jacob De Shazer died in his sleep on March 15, 2008 at his home is Salem, Oregon, at the age of 95.
Further information about Jacob De Shazer can be found at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/church-history/jacob-deshazer-bombs-japan
An article about De Shazer’s mother and her remarkable sense to pray at the very time De Shazer was parachuting from his plane can be found at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/family/parenting-family/the-prayers-of-a-mother
This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com
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