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.) Continue Reading