Brookings, Oregon (JFK+50) Seventy-two years ago today, September 9, 1942, the United States of America was bombed. Unlike the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor of December 7, 1941, however, this event is not even mentioned in history books.
The "Lookout Air Raid," as it came to be called, is the only air attack ever launched on the mainland of the United States. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was so concerned about the impact the news of this attack would have on the American people, he ordered a news blackout of the bombing.
A Japanese I-25 submarine off the Pacific Coast launched Warrant Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita* and Petty Officer Okuda Shoji aboard their Yokosuki E14Y** float aircraft.
Their mission was to drop incendiary bombs which would start massive forest fires causing the U.S. to divert resources from the war in the Pacific.
One of the bombs was dropped on Wheeler Ridge on Mount Emily, but the fire was put out by employees of the United States Forest Service.
Fujita and Shoji were able to drop their bombs and return safely to their submarine. A second bombing attempt later in the month also proved to be a failure.
*Nobuo Fujita (1911-1997) joined the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1932 and became a pilot in 1933. In addition to his raid on Oregon, Fujita made reconnaissance flights over Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart, Australia as well as Wellington and Auckland, NZ and Fiji in 1942.
In his later years, Fujita was described as "a quiet, humble man who...was deeply ashamed of his air raids on the United States."
In 1962, Fujita was invited to Brookings where he gave his family's 400 year old Samurai sword as a token of friendship. In 1985, three students from Brookings High School traveled to Japan with a letter to Fujita from President Ronald Reagan.
Fujita returned to Brookings in 1990, 1992 and 1995. Shortly before his death from lung cancer at the age of 85, Nobuo Fujita was made an honorary citizen of Brookings.
**Yokosuki E14Y, a 2 passenger float plane with 9 cylinder, 340 horsepower engine.
"Nubuo Fujita, 85, Is Dead; Only Foe to Bomb America," by Nicholas D. Kristoe, New York Times, October 3, 1997.
"The little-known WWII bombing of Brookings, Oregon," by Amy Shira Teitel, May 8, 2013, www.dvice.com