When The Japanese Bombed Oregon During World War II


After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, all Americans were on high alert. There was a real fear that Japanese forces might attack other places in the United States. This fear became a reality 10 months later, when a lone Japanese pilot in a floatplane bombed the Oregon wilderness, sending a bomb to the U.S. The country's first wartime air raid on the mainland.

Bombing Oregon

Following the success of their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces were expected to attack other major targets on the North American mainland. One target they discussed was the Panama Canal because of its strategic location, but they also wanted to hit points along the west coast. In particular, Warrant Flying Officer Nubuo Fujita wanted to use a floatplane launched from a long-range submarine aircraft carrier, which was designed to attack the Panama Canal by dropping incendiary bombs into the forests around Brookings, Oregon. was designed for, with the hope that a massive wildfire would divert manpower and resources from the Pacific Theater.

It worked - sort of. When the submarine surfaced near the Oregon-California border on September 9, 1942, Fujita dropped a bomb on Mount Emily, Oregon (a second, which turned out to be a dud, was released but never found), about nine miles away. ignited a forest fire. outside brookings. Fortunately, that failed to factor in the notoriously humid and rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest. The forests were too wet to create the type of disaster he had envisioned, and the U.S. based in Brookings. Forest Service members, who witnessed the bombing from their positions in the Fire Lookout Tower, easily put out the fire.

Nubuo Fujita, shortly before 1945.

Fujita's Return

After the war, Fujita opened a hardware store and settled into civilian life. He never considered returning to Oregon, but in 1962 he was invited to visit Brookings. Naturally, he was skeptical of the invitation, but after the US government assured him that it was not a trap, Fujita was eager to make amends with the people of the Pacific Northwest. Nevertheless, he was so concerned about his welcome in the kingdom that he brought with him a 400-year-old katana, a treasured family heirloom, with the intention of redeeming his family's honor by performing seppuku.

However, to his surprise, the people of Brookings greeted him with kindness and respect, prompting him to introduce his sword to the city as a symbol of friendship and to join the local community. He sponsored local high school students to visit Japan and planted a tree at the site of the bombing as a symbol of peace and friendship, among many other community projects he worked on on his frequent visits. His sword, initially displayed at City Hall, was moved to the city's new library in 1995, which Fujita helped fundraise.

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