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Posted in: News
Published on: 15th December 2022
A Typhoon flypast and guard of honour have marked the 100th birthday of a Second World War veteran.
Kaz Yajima had a remarkable RAF career – joining aged 18 and being posted to South Africa for pilot training under the Empire Flying Scheme. Warrant Officer Yajima was involved in missions including armed reconnaissance, anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations in the Hurricane Mk IV.
He still bears Perspex splinters below his left eye – a result of ammunition which came through one side of his cockpit canopy and ricocheted off his goggles before exiting through the other side.
Almost 80 years since he hung up his wings, a Typhoon flypast, a medal presentation, and cake have all marked his 100th birthday at Teesside Airport on Thursday (December 15).
Mr Yajima, who lives in Middleton St George, was given a Guard of Honour and was presented with medals he never got around to applying for.
In recognition of his Service, he was awarded with:
After serving in Palestine, Kaz returned to the UK in late 1946. Initially he went back to his old job as a steel fabricator at the Dorman Long steelworks, in Redcar, before being moved to the drawing office.
He eventually joined ICI and became Works Engineer, in Billingham, and then in Runcorn, Cheshire.
He remained with ICI for 30 years, eventually retiring aged 60. He then became self-employed and worked as a consultant design engineer for a further 10 years.
Kaz said: “The flypast did bring back memories although it was a very different aircraft. I think everything that’s gone into today has been really wonderful and I’m very grateful. I’m proud of the time I spent in the RAF, it was a great body to be part of.”
Wing Commander Noel Rees, Officer Commander 6 Squadron, said: “It’s a massive honour to be here as OC of a Squadron with such great heritage – and of which Kaz is a major part, to wish him happy birthday and see the medal ceremony.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Kaz Yajima put his life on the line for Britain during the most crucial time of the last century – and it has been a great honour and privilege to host these celebrations at Teesside Airport to mark his 100th birthday.
“We have also never forgotten the vital role our airport played as a Bomber Command base during the war – as well as the incredible acts of bravery and heroism, and the huge sacrifices made during that time.
“From all of us at the airport, I hope Mr Yajima and his family had a terrific birthday to remember.”
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