Lookout Air Raids

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Lookout Air Raids
Part of World War II, Pacific War
Lookout air raid schema.jpg
Lookout air raid schema
Date September 9 and September 29, 1942
Location Oregon Mountains, near Brookings, Pacific Ocean
Result Japanese failure to ignite forest fires
Belligerents
 United States  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Keith V. Johnson Tagami Meiji
Nobuo Fujita
Strength
1 patrol of fire lookouts Sea:
1 submarine
Air:
1 aircraft
Submarine and seaplane preparing the raid
The I-25 submarine.
Nobuo Fujita standing by his Yokosuka E14Y "Glen" seaplane.

The Lookout Air Raids were minor but historic Japanese air raids that occurred in the mountains of Oregon, several miles outside Brookings during World War II.[1] This was the only time during World War II that mainland America suffered an air raid attack by enemy forces.

On September 9, 1942, a Japanese Yokosuka E14Y floatplane launched from a Japanese submarine and dropped two incendiary bombs with the intention of starting a forest fire. Thanks to a patrol of fire lookouts[2] and favorable weather conditions the damage done by the attack was minor.[3] The attack was the first time the continental United States was bombed by an enemy aircraft and the second time that the mainland USA was bombed by a foreign power, the first being the bombing of Naco, Arizona by Patrick Murphy.

Air raids[edit]

On Wednesday morning, September 9, 1942, the I-25, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Meiji Tagami, surfaced west of Cape Blanco. The submarine launched a "Glen" Yokosuka E14Y floatplane, flown by Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita[4] and Petty Officer Okuda Shoji, with a load of two incendiary bombs of 76 kilograms (168 lb) each.[5]

Howard "Razz" Gardner spotted and reported the incoming "Glen" from his fire lookout tower on Mount Emily in the Siskiyou National Forest.

Although Razz did not see the bombing, he saw the smoke plume and reported the fire to the dispatch office. He was instructed to hike to the fire to see what suppression he could do. Dispatch also sent USFS Fire Lookout Keith V. Johnson from the nearby Bear Wallow Lookout Tower.[citation needed]

The two men proceeded to the location and were able to keep the fire under control. Only a few small scattered fires were started because the bombs were not dropped from the correct height.[citation needed] The men stayed on scene and worked through the night keeping the fires contained. In the morning, a fire crew arrived to help. A recent rain storm had kept the area wet, which helped the fire lookouts contain the blaze.[citation needed]

Aftermath[edit]

A full investigation was launched by the FBI, which resulted in locating several bomb fragments. The story was reported in several newspapers on September 10, 1942.[citation needed] Lieut. Gen. John L. DeWitt, the area commander announced, "The Western Defense Command is investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery on Sept. 9 of fragments of what appears to have been an incendiary bomb. These fragments were found by personnel of the United States Forestry Service near Mt. Emily nine miles northeast of Brookings, Or. Markings of the bomb fragments indicated that the missile was of Japanese origin."[2]

The floatplane carried two bombs. Both were dropped, according to the Japanese records, but no trace has yet been found of the second bomb.[citation needed] One of the bombs left a foot-deep crater.[2] Fujita and his observer made a second attack on September 29, again causing only negligible damage.[citation needed]

Postwar[edit]

Twenty years later, the floatplane's pilot, Nobuo Fujita, was invited back to Brookings. Before he made the trip the Japanese government was assured he would not be tried as a war criminal. In Brookings Fujita served as Grand Marshal for the local Azalea Festival.[1] At the festival, Fujita presented his family's 400-year-old samurai sword to the city as a symbol of regret. Fujita made a number of additional visits to Brookings, serving as an "informal ambassador of peace and friendship".[6] Impressed by his welcome in the United States, in 1985 Fujita invited three female students from Brookings to Japan. During the visit of the Brookings-Harbor High School students to Japan, Fujita received a dedicatory letter from an aide of President Ronald Reagan "with admiration for your kindness and generosity." Fujita returned to Brookings in 1990, 1992, and 1995. In 1992 he planted a tree at the bomb site as a gesture of peace. In 1995, he moved the samurai sword from the Brookings City Hall into the new library's display case. He was made an honorary citizen of Brookings several days before his death on September 30, 1997, at the age of 85.[7] In October 1998, his daughter, Yoriko Asakura, buried some of Fujita's ashes at the bomb site.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bingham, Larry (2008-10-02). "Oregon coast trail dedicated for World War II bombing". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  2. ^ a b c Jap Incendiary Sets Forest Fire. DeWitt's Announcement Hints Raider May Have Been Launched From Submarine Off Coast, Later Attacked by Patrol Planes
  3. ^ The Journal of military history, Volume 53, p. 172. Virginia Military Institute, American Military Institute, George C. Marshall Foundation, 1989
  4. ^ CBS News. Steve Hartman. A Soldier's Story: Steve Hartman Talks To An Oregon Veteran
  5. ^ Mochitsura Hashimoto (1954). Sunk. 
  6. ^ Burel, Patty (2008-09-19). "Trail Dedication at Japanese Bombing Site Set". FS Today. Retrieved 2009-03-04. [dead link]
  7. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (1997-10-03). "Nobuo Fujita, 85, Is Dead; Only Foe to Bomb America". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 

External links[edit]