Monday, May 23, 2016


I seem to remember learning that during WW II the Japanese shelled the west coast, but did you know that they also bombed us, twice?  Yes it's true and I'm here to tell you the story.

After Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo in April on 1942, the Japanese wanted to demonstrate that they also had the ability to bomb the United States.  So, on September 9th, 1942 they did just that.  Early on that morning the Japanese Submarine I-25 surfaced off Cape Blanco on the southern Oregon coast.  On board was a small seaplane which the crew assembled on the deck of the sub. The plane, piloted by Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita and along with his navigator Shoji Okuda, was catapulted off the submarine with compressed air.


The plane carried two incendiary bombs and the intent was to start a massive forest fire.  Fujita flew to Mt. Emily, east of Brookings, Oregon where Howard Gardner, a civilian plane spotter, saw the plane as it circled the mountain top lookout station.  He reported to the forest service in Gold Beach that he had spotted the plane.  The plane dropped it's bombs and Gardner spotted smoke from the fire about six hours later.  He, along with another spotter and two other men, hiked to the fire and extinguished it.  At the site they found 40 pounds of bomb fragments with Japanese markings.  They knew that for the first time in history, America had been bombed.  The fire caused little damage as it had rained the night before and the forest was damp.


Fujita returned to the I-25 and landed safely.  Shortly after the bombing, planes from the USAAF spotted the submarine and attacked.  They caused minor damage and the sub was able to submerge and hide on the bottom off Port Orford.  Three weeks later on September 29, Fujita flew once again over the US mainland and dropped two more bombs.  They apparently caused little or no damage as the attack was never discovered.  The I-25 returned safely to Japan where news of the attack spread quickly throughout the country.  Fujita remained in Japan for the rest of the war and became a flight instructor.  After the war he owned and operated a hardware store..

Fast forward 20 years to 1962 and Nobuo Fujita, at the invitation for the Brookings Jaycees, attended the Brookings Azalea Festival.  The highlight of the visit was when Fujita made a presentation of his 400 year old Samuri sword to the people of Brookings as an apology for his wartime bombing.  The sword was the same one that Fujita carried with him on his bombing raids.

Today you can go to the site of the bombing where there are storyboards telling of the attack.  So that's what we did. The sword is on display in the library in Brookings.




Len said...

I did not know this!! Very interesting.

Dibb Family said...

Wow, very cool! I didn't know this.

My dad, who was born in 1930 in San Diego, remembers going to Pt Loma and there were people assigned there to watch for bombers. Maybe it was around this time.

Nick Saraceni said...

That is an awesome history lesson. I was aware of various attacks by the Japenese, especially the ballon bombs they sent over to the west coast and a couple actually fell in inhabited areas. Pretty cool.