September 9, 1942: Lookout Air Raid

One of the more daring air raids of World War II, on September 9, 1942 a Japanese float plane piloted by Warrant Office Nobou Fujita took off from the I-25 , a Japanese submarine, that was off Cape Blanco on the southwestern Oregon coast. The intention was to drop two incendiary bombs to start forest fires.    Fujita dropped both bombs, one of which exploded, in the Siskiyou National Forest.  The ensuing forest fire was minor and easily put out, the forest being damp from recent rains, and Howard “Razz” Gardner manning a fire lookout tower having spotted the plane as it conducted the bombing.  Fujita flew back to the I-25.  On September 29 Fujita made a second attack which caused only negligible damage.

Although one has to appreciate the daring of the Japanese involved, this operation barely deserves footnote status as the only time the continental United States has been bombed by an enemy power.  What is more interesting, and encouraging in what it says about human nature, is that twenty years after the bombings, in 1962, Fujita was invited to Brookings, the town nearest the bombings.  After the Japanese government ascertained that there was no intention of attempting to try Fujita as a war criminal, Fujita went.  He was made Grand Marshal of the local Azalea Festival.  Fujita gave the town a 400 year old samurai sword from his family as a token of regret.  ( He had intended to commit seppuku with it if his reception had been unfriendly.) 

Fujita was overwhelmed by the warmth of his reception at Brookings and traveled to the town many times in the years to come, serving as an informal ambassador of good will.  In 1985 he sponsored three female students from Brookings on a trip to Japan and received a letter from President Ronald Reagan thanking him for his efforts in healing the wounds of war.  He was made an honorary citizen of Brookings several days before his death on September 30, 1997 at age 85.  In October of 1998 his daughter  Yoriko Asakura buried some of his ashes at the bomb site.

Published in: on September 9, 2012 at 7:21 am  Comments (5)  
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  1. I appreciate this story, but how can a man be made honorary citizen of a single town “several times”?

    • Thank you for noticing that Fabio. Several times should have been several days.

  2. In your study of history do you know of any other nation that has been as successful at making friends of its enemies, restoring enemies destroyed by war, as giving in peace time as the USA in the last 200 years? How do you explain it other than being a nation founded on Christian principle?
    In Christ, Dennis McCutcheon

    • Easy. Both the Republic of Venice in the late middle ages and early modern period, and the kingdom of France later, had the same magnetic quality. People who had fought in war against them went to live there to learn gracious living and high art. And much the same might be said of the Britiish Empire at its height. The idea of the odiousness of a conquering empire is a modern deviation, due mostly to the genuinely odious character of Prussia and of the various incarnations of Russia.

      • True Fabio. In regard to America and defeated adversaries, the comedy The Mouse That Roared summed up the advantage of losing a war to the US. The US has its flaws, but it is odd for a victorious power to pay a defeated enemy money, which the US did in both the Mexican War and the Spanish American War. The Marshal plan after World War II to allies and former foes alike is too well known to require repetition by me. Rome of course did a good job in turning defeated peoples into pillars of the empire.

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