The Statesman Journal - WWII Vet Honored for his Service

WWII vet honored for his service, faith Hundreds recall Jacob DeShazer's missionary work

EUNICE KIM Statesman Journal

March 30, 2008

The Doolittle Raid may have first made Jacob DeShazer famous, but his friends and family say it was a mission of a different sort that was most important to him: his missionary work.

"We just want to be used by God, and that was his heart's cry," said Doug Bailey, the pastor of Salem First Free Methodist Church.

Friends, family and community members celebrated DeShazer's life Saturday during a memorial service at the Methodist church on Silverton Road NE and a graveside service at Restlawn Memory Gardens. DeShazer died March 15 at Lancaster Village assisted-living facility at age 95.

Hundreds of people honored the Salem native for his military and missionary service. Many recalled his part in World War II's Doolittle Raid when he was among nearly 80 flyers whose bombs hit Tokyo and Nagoya in what was the United States' first air attack on Japan.

Ed Horton, one of 11 Doolittle Raiders still alive, said DeShazer was a "cut above."

"I had an awful lot of respect for him," said the 92-year-old, who flew in from Florida.

DeShazer endured more than three years as a Japanese prisoner of war before teaming up with his wife, Florence, to serve as a Methodist missionary in Japan for nearly 30 years. There, he helped start 23 churches, his family members said.

"I told thousands of people about Jesus," DeShazer said in a video played during his memorial service.

Many described DeShazer as a humble and caring man, who loved his friends and family. They said he would want people to love one another and serve Jesus.

"He wouldn't want this service to be about his life and his accomplishments," said Ruth Kutrakun, the youngest of the DeShazers' five children. "He'd want Jesus to get all of the credit."

At the cemetery earlier Saturday, dozens of people gathered around DeShazer's casket and his family. Members of the McChord Air Force Base Honor Guard honored him with a gun salute. A single bugler then played taps as part of the full military honors.

Moments later, the crowd looked up at the sky and cheered as a single B1-B bomber from the 34th Bomb Squadron flew overhead and then disappeared into the clouds. The Doolittle Raiders were part of the 34th, now based at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

Honor Guard members silently folded the American flag that draped DeShazer's casket, which Sgt. Douglas Pecor presented to his wife.

After words from pastor Bailey and a prayer, family members — and later others — took turns laying yellow roses on DeShazer's casket as everyone sang one of his favorite songs, "When the roll is called up yonder."

"Jake's a hero," Pecor said after the service. "This is why we do military honors, to honor people like Jake. He's history."

Source: Eunice Kim, "WWII vet honored for his service, faith -Hundreds recall Jacob DeShazer's missionary work", Statesman Journal, May 30th 2008