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Sitting In A Cockpit Again, World War II Fighter Pilot Recounts Final Mission

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Military history was on the tarmac at Dallas Love Field over the weekend: a vintage aircraft that has seen its share of battles.

The Frontiers of Flight Museum featured Wings of Freedom, a display in the midst of a national 110-city tour, and the bombers and fighter aircraft that came with it.

Standing among the history was a man who remembers it well. Capt. Jerry Yellin, 92, was a fighter pilot in World War II.

On a sunny Easter afternoon, he was reacquainted with the type of plane he flew during the war, the P-51 Mustang.

"It had speed and maneuverability and was everything an airplane should be for a fighter plane that had to be flown by a guy," Yellin said. "Today, airplanes are flown by computers."

Yellin enlisted two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor — on his 18th birthday. The longer he spent back in the cockpit on Sunday, the more memories flooded back, especially his final mission over Japan.

"We were supposed to hear the code word 'Ohio' if the war had been over," Yellin said. "Nobody heard it. We strafed airfields around Tokyo, and my wingman — 19-year-old Phillip Schlamberg from Brooklyn, New York — was the last man killed in combat in World War II."

That was 71 Easters ago for a man who says the fight is still in him.

"I'd like to be the last guy standing who served his country in World War II," he said.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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