I was ten years old on Sunday, December 7, 1941, and our family was eating dinner when the music on our radio was interrupted to report the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. The flight commander for the Japanese attack that killed 2,403 lives was Mitsuo Fuchida.
Four months later, Colonel Jimmy Doolittle led sixteen B-25 bombers from an aircraft carrier for the first air strike by the United States against Japan. Jake DeShazer was a bombardier in a plane that successfully attacked Nagoya but later ran out of gas. He baled out over an area of China held by the Japanese and was immediately captured and imprisoned.
Despite being beaten and starved, DeShazer turned to Christ while still in prison and forgave those whom he had hated and despised. Following the war, DeShazer entered the ministry, then he returned to the country he had bombed in 1942 and was a missionary there for thirty years.
In 1948, Mitsuo Fuchida read I Was a Prisoner of Japan, the story of DeShazer’s Christian awakening while in captivity. Inspired and transformed by the irresistible power of Christ’s love in DeShazer’s story, Fuchida became a dedicated Christian evangelist in Japan and the United States.
In 1950, the two men, who once were hated enemies, met for the first time and became close friends spreading Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness the rest of their lives.