Jacob DeShazer, a farm boy from Oregon, joined the army Air Corps at age 27. He had always wanted to be a pilot, but when he did not qualify, an opportunity opened to become a bombardier. By luck of the draw, Jacob found himself as one of the 80 men participating in the famous Doolittle Raid over Japan shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
During the raid, Jacob and his fellow crewmen bailed out over China and were taken captive by the Japanese as prisoners of war for more than three years. In that Japanese POW camp, every day facing torture and death, Jacob’s path changed when his request for a Bible was fulfilled. Jacob came back to the Christian faith in which he was raised, and made a vow to God in his prison cell that if he survived he would return to Japan, not as a warrior but as a missionary.
The Jacob DeShazer story is not only about the bravery of a soldier during war, but also about how powerful love and forgiveness can be when given to the enemy.
"Jacob DeShazer was brave like a Japanese samurai. He was brave as a prisoner of the Japanese. He never yielded to the guards. After conversion he was braver, enough to love Japanese. As a missionary, he never sought fame or wealth, just the lost. He was kind, patient, and humble, for he was a brave Christian. He was brave enough to make the Japanese commander of the attack on Pearl Harbor one of his best friends. Return of the Raider is a story of a person who knew that perfect love drives out all fear."
—Iwao Shimada Pastor of the church the DeShazers started in Japan