Nobuo Fujita: The story of the only Japanese pilot to bomb mainland America, 1942

On September 9, 1942, however, something happened that had never happened before: an enemy aircraft bombed the United States. There were rumors of bombers in Los Angeles last December, but they were ultimately proven false.

And, of course, the U.S. The area was bombed in some form or another by Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, and some other areas in the Pacific, but they were not part of the continental US.

Nobuo Fujita flew a floatplane from the long-range submarine aircraft carrier I-25 and organized Lookout Air Raids in southern Oregon on September 9, 1942, making him the only Axis pilot to conduct aerial bombings of the United States during World War II. became.

The Japanese submarine I-25, with a crew of about 100, surfaced off the coast of Oregon after crossing the ocean outside normal shipping lanes, before dawn on 9 September 1942. The location was not chosen by chance: I-25 was quite familiar to the area.

In December 1941, it attacked two oil tankers at the mouth of the Columbia River guarded by Fort Stevens. Not seeing the sub, the guns of the fort remained silent, perhaps for fear of giving up their position without aim. I-25 took down the empty oil tanker S.S. It damaged Connecticut by being torpedoed with one of its 17 torpedoes, then drove away.

I-25 returned again the following summer. On the night of June 21, 1942, under the command of Commander Tagami, I-25 opened fire on Fort Stevens with its 5.5 deck gun after maneuvering around mines it had known about from a previous attack .

Seventeen shells landed on the military reservation without any significant damage. Fort Stevens became the only military establishment in the United States to be shelled by a foreign enemy warship since the War of 1812.

The next attack occurred three months later. On Wednesday morning, September 9, 1942, submarine I-25, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Akiji Tagami, surfaced west of Cape Blanco.

The submarine launched the "Glen" Yokosuka E14Y floatplane flown by Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita and Petty Officer Okuda Shoji with two incendiary bombs weighing 76 kg (168 lb) with the intention of starting a wildfire.

Howard "Rays" Gardner saw and reported on "Glen" coming from his fire lookout tower on Mount Emily in the Siskiyou National Forest.

Although Razz did not see the bombing, he saw a plume of smoke and reported the fire to the dispatch office. He was instructed to move towards the fire, to see what he could suppress.

Dispatches USFS Fire Lookout Keith V. Johnson was also dispatched from the nearby Bear Bears Lookout Tower. Fujita dropped two bombs on Wheeler Ridge on Mount Emily in Oregon. The location of the second bomb is unknown. The Wheeler Ridge bomb started a small fire 16 km (9.9 mi) east of Brookings.

Both the men reached the spot and were successful in dousing the fire. There were only a few small scattered fires due to the bombs not being dropped from the correct height.

They remained at the spot and worked through the night to douse the fire. In the morning the fire brigade team arrived to help. A recent rain storm had wetted the area, which helped firefighters douse the fire.

After the bombing, the I-25 patrol was attacked by USAAF aircraft, forcing the submarine to dive and hide on the sea floor off Port Orford.

The American attacks caused only minor damage, and Fujita made a second bombing flight three weeks later on September 29. Fujita used Cape Blanco Light as a beacon. Flying 90 minutes to the east, he dropped his bombs and reported seeing flames, but the U.S. The bombing did not go unnoticed.

The submarine torpedoed and sank the SS Camden and the SS Larry Doheny and then headed for home. On its way to Japan, I-25 sank the Soviet submarine L-16, which was in transit between Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and San Francisco, California, mistaking it for an American submarine (Japan and the USSR were not at war). Time).

Fujita continued as an Imperial Japanese Navy pilot, mainly in reconnaissance duties, until 1944, when he was transferred to the training of kamikaze pilots. After the war, he opened a hardware store in Ibaraki Prefecture and later worked in a wire manufacturing company.

Fujita was invited to Brookings in 1962, when the Japanese government was assured that he would not be run as a war criminal. He befriended his family's 400-year-old katana to the City of Brookings.

Embarrassed by his actions during the battle, Fujita used the sword to seppuku if he was given a hostile reception. Although the city treated him with respect and affection, his visit still raised some controversy.

During the visit, Fujita received a dedicated letter "with appreciation of your kindness and generosity" from an aide of President Ronald Reagan.

Fujita returned to Brookings in 1990, 1992 and 1995. In 1992, he planted a tree at the bomb site as a sign of peace. In 1995, he moved the Samurai Sword from Brookings City Hall to the new library's display case.

He was made an honorary citizen of Brookings on September 30, 1997, at the age of 85, several days before his death at a hospital in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture.

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