Girl Scouts with Jerry at National WWII Memorial on Spirit of '45 Day 2017.  
Read Madeleine LeBeau's message Jerry's promising to keep his legacy alive, sent to him a few days before he took his final flight on December 21, 2017.
Jerry's Message to America
I am proud to have been asked to be a national spokesman for Spirit of '45 Day.
I served in WWII as a P51 fighter pilot flying escort and strafing missions from the island of Iwo Jima over Japan.
On August 14, 1945, as celebrations of joy and relief were breaking out all over America at the news that the war had ended, I was flying the last combat mission over the Japanese island of Honshu.
Read Jerry's story of August 14, 1945
In America, it was a day of great national unity and shared community, as our country turned from the terrible work of war to begin to rebuild a better future for the world. It was a time when
everyone felt connected to each other and had a common duty to make the world a better place, and to assure a better future for ourselves, our children and our children's children.
Despite a national debt that was more than 125% of our gross national product at the time, America found the resources to welcome home the millions of us who served with the G.I. Bill and other programs to ease our transition to civilian life and to start our lives. These farsighted policies laid the foundations for the creation of the greatest economy in the history of the world.
In an act unprecedented in history, America reached out to both our allies and our former enemies in Europe to help them get back on their feet with the Marshall Plan. In Japan, the people were treated by young GI’s with kindness. Candy and friendly smiles for the young people, medical supplies for those in need, and food and clothing for all.
It was the American way.
Spirit of '45 Day is an opportunity for all Americans to remember the sacrifices and sense of common duty to one another that is the legacy of the men and women who were the 'ordinary heroes' of the WWII generation, people who had endured the difficult times of the Great Depression and WWII and then were part of a national effort to build a more peaceful world.
We did not succeed in all the things we set out to achieve, nor were we by any means perfect, but we did our best to leave the world a better place and to try to set an example for those who would follow us, to inspire them to build on what we achieved and to help America become an even greater country.

Spirit of '45 Day is also an opportunity to remind us that we have an obligation to all those who we ask to serve in the cause of defending freedom and democracy, and to assure that they, too, are welcomed home with the compassionate understanding and support that the deserve.

More than 400,000 Americans did not return from the war. My friend, 2nd Lt. Phillip Schlamberg of Brooklyn, NY, who flew with me on the day WWII ended, was killed, making him the last casualty of the most destructive war in history.
For many of us who did return, the memories of the horrors of war continued to weigh heavy on our minds and hearts, as we suffered from what is now referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I personally witnessed the deaths of 16 men during WWII, memories that linger in my mind even today. You never forget the horrific waste of war.
I had to deal with PTSD myself for decades after the war. I am now doing what I can to help today's generation of returning veterans in the hope that they will be better able to cope with this potentially debilitating condition so that they will be able to lead productive and fulfilling lives.
This is my way of keeping the Spirit of '45 alive -- by caring for veterans who are trying to find peace on their return home.

I hope that you will find your own way to observe Spirit of '45 Day each year with your family and your community as together we reflect on what our country can achieve when it is truly united, and recommit ourselves to becoming the best that America can be.

Thank you.
February 15, 1924 - December 21, 2017
In Memorium  
Jerry was a tireless champion for Spirit of '45 Day, speaking to thousands of youth and hundreds of veterans organizations, military groups and community gatherings throughout America.
Here are some photos of him in action.  We'll be adding messages sent in by well wishers during his final days preparing for his last flight.  
Marching with youth volunteers carrying wingman Phil Schlamberg's photo in National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C.  
 Accepting 2015 Air Force Association Award from former USAF Secretary with Andrew McKenna and Warren Hegg
  With fellow WWII vets, Tuskegee Airman Paul Jacobs and Doolittle Raider Col. Dick Cole
With Spirit of '45 Day spokewoman Elinor Marie Otto - "America's Longest Working Rosie the Riveter"
At US Air Force Memorial where he placed a wreath in honor of his wingman, Phil Schlamberg, on Memorial Day each year 
 Jerry with honorary Spirit of '45 Day spokeswoman Scarlett Johansson, the grand niece of Phil Schlamberg
 With Melanie Sloane, Scarlett's mother and niece of Jerry's wingman Phil Schlamberg 
 Speaking at the Air Force Association National Convention and the National Press Club
Placing wreath with former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Spirit of '45 Day proclamation and laying wreath on 70th Anniversary 
Spirit of '45 youth leader Madeleine LeBeau with Jerry, Girl Scouts and American Legion lay wreath in honor of Phil Schlamberg at National WWII Memorial (Wreath donated by Andy Linthicum, Murphy Funderal Home)
 With Boy Scouts preparing to march in New York Veterans Day Parade
 Honorary grand marshall in National Memorial Day Parade
 Addressing youth marchers at the end of the National Memorial Day Parade
 2015 National Memorial Day Parade
 With members of the Arnold Air Society/Silver Wings
 Guest at Frontiers of Flight Museum hosted by director Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones (far right)
 With Rosie the Riveter lookalikes in New York City
 Honorary Grand Marshal for Spirit of '45 in New York City Veterans Day Parade
 National Spirit of '45 Day Leaders Conference in San Diego
With Barb Jensen, founder Oregon Spirit of '45, Steve "The Flying Greek" Steve Pissano, and Nell Calloway, granddaughter of General Claire Chennault, and director of Chennault Aviation & Military Museum 
 With San Diego Girl Scouts and Pearl Harbor Survivors Al Bordenos and Stu Hedley
 Birthday kisses from Janet Goodreau of Fresno, CA and Linda Laurie, Spirit of '45 Day National Events Coordinator   With Bob Stein, president American Society on Aging
 With the Swinging Blue Stars in front of the USS Midway Musseum & Memorial, Greatest Generations Walk, San Diego
 National Spirit of '45 Leaders Conference at History San Jose, Silicon Valley
 With Linda Laurie presenting Spirit of '45 Leadership Awards to Bob Largent, chairman emeritus Air Force Association and Bob Stenevek, Commemorative Air Force 
With Spirit of '45 Day national leaders Carole Quakenbush, Vitas Healthcare Ohio, and Enna Anulao, Dignity Memorial Hawaii
 Celebrating his birthday with fellow Spirit of '45 Day spokesman Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, Chancellor of the University of Richmond and Battle of Okinawa veteran, and former San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl star Ricky Watters.
Jerry with Dr. Lois Bolin, foiunder Florida Spirit of '45 
With Al Tortolano, Commander, Disabled American Veterans and member of the Lost Battalion, and Edith Shain, the "Times Square Nurse"
With Spirit of '45 Day co-founder Hollywood icon and WWII Navy veteran Ernest Borgnine at the National WWII Memorial on Memorial Day 2009 
With 2016 calendar of photos
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