The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor
Member of the Doolittle Raid and a Prisoner of Japan
I WAS A PRISONER OF JAPAN
I was a prisoner of Japan for forty long months, thirty-four of them in solitary confinement
When I flew as a member of General Jimmy Doolittle's squadron on the first raid over Japan on April
18th, 1942, my heart was filled with bitter hatred for the people of that nation. When our plane ran out of
gas, and the members of the crew of my plane had to parachute down into Japanese-held territory in China and
were captured by the enemy, the bitterness of my heart against my captors seemed more than I could bear.
Taken to Tokyo with the survivors of another of our planes, we were imprisoned and beaten, half-starved, and
denied by solitary confinement even the comfort of association with one another, these terrible tortures taking
place at Tokyo, Shanghai, Nanking and Peiping. Three of my buddies, Dean Hallmark, Fill Farrow and Harold Spatz,
were executed by a firing squad about six months after our capture, and fourteen months later another of them, Bob
Meder [a strong Christian], died of slow starvation. My hatred for the Japanese people nearly drove me
It was soon after Meder's death that I began to ponder the cause of such hatred between members of the human
race. I wondered what it was that made the Japanese hate the Americans, and what made me hate the Japanese. my
thoughts turned toward what I had heard about Christianity changing hatred between human beings into real brotherly
love, and I was gripped with a strange longing to examine the Christian's Bible to see if I could find the secret.
I begged my captors to get a Bible for me. At last, in the month of May, 1944, a guard brought the Book, but told
me I could have it for only three weeks.
I eagerly began to read its pages. Chapter after chapter gripped my heart. In due time I came to the books of
the prophets, and found that their every writing seemed focused on a divine Redeemer from sin, one who was to be
sent from heaven to be born in the form of a human babe. Their writings so fascinated me that I read them again and
again until I had earnestly studied them through six times. Then I went on into the New Testament, and there read
of the birth of Jesus Christ, the one who actually fulfilled the very prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah and the
other Old Testament writers. My heart rejoiced as I found confirmed in Acts 10:43: "To Him give all the prophets
witness, that through His Name, whosoever believeth on Him shall receive remission of sins." After I had carefully
read this book of the Acts, I continued on into the study of the epistle Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome.
On June 8th, 1944, the words in Romans 10:9 stood out boldly before my eyes: "If thou shalt confess with thy
mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved." In that very moment God gave me grace to confess my sins to Him, and He forgave me all my sins and saved me
for Jesus' sake, even as I later found that His Word again promises so clearly in 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our
sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was suffering so terribly from the
physical beatings and lack of food. But suddenly I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes, and that
when I looked at the Japanese officers and guards who had starved and beaten me and my companions so cruelly, I
found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity. I realized that these Japanese did not know anything about
my Saviour and that if Christ is not in a heart, it is natural to be cruel. I read in my Bible that while those who
crucified Jesus on the cross had beaten Him and spit upon Him before He was nailed to the cross, He tenderly prayed
in His moment of excruciating suffering, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." And now from the
depths of my heart, I too prayed for God to forgive my torturers, and I determined by the aid of Christ to do my
best to acquaint the Japanese people with the message of salvation that they might become as other believing
Christians. With His love controlling my heart, the 13th chapter of First Corinthians took on a living meaning:
"Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave
itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but
rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love
A year passed by, and during that year, the memories of the weeks I had been permitted to spend with my Bible
grew sweeter and sweeter day as I was sitting in my solitary confinement cell in Peiping, I became very sick. My
heart was paining me, even as Meder had told me his was paining him just before he died of starvation. I slid down
onto my knees and began to pray. The guards rushed in and began to punish me, but I kept right on praying. Finally
they let me alone. God in that hour revealed unto me how to endure suffering.
At last freedom came. On August 20th, 1945, American parachutists dropped onto the prison grounds
and released us from our cells. We were flown back to the United States and placed in hospitals where we
slowly regained our physical strength.
I have completed my training in a Christian College, God having clearly commanded me: "Go, teach the Japanese
people the way of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ," and am now in Japan as a missionary, with the one
single purpose to lead me - to make Christ known.
I am sending this testimony to people everywhere, with the earnest prayer that a great host of people may
confess Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour."
DeShazer served faithfully in Japan. Mitsuo Fuchida, lead pilot on the Pearl Harbor attack, had also survived
the war. As he was arriving at Tokyo, he accepted the pamphlet shown at the right. Reading it, he realized that
forgiveness was lacking in his own religion. He became a Christian and eventually met DeShazer, who had ended a
forty-day fast. (That is why he looks so thin in the 1950 picture; he is thin in the 1945 picture because it was
taken two weeks after his release from prison.) Fuchida soon became an evangelist himself, and traveled all over
the world. DeShazer has since retired and is living in Oregon (1997).
I was a Prisoner of Japan is DeShazer's story as told to Don R. Falkenberg of The Bible Meditation League (BML),
1950. The first picture is courtesy of Jacob DeShazer. The second, marked "1942," is courtesy of Stan Stokes. The
third is from the U.S. Air Force. The rest of the pictures are from Bible Literature International, successor to
BML. Sharon Ann McMullen did the word processing.