For the most part, America’s involvement in World War II occurred outside of its borders. As fighting raged on in Europe and in the Pacific, the continental United States was almost entirely untouched. The exception was courtesy of Nobuo Fujita, pictured above, the pilot of the “Glen,” a Japanese reconnaissance seaplane which disembarked from submarines — in this case, the I-25 – in what is now known as the “Lookout Air Raids.”
On September 9, 1942, the I-25 surfaced off of Oregon’s Cape Blanco. The Glen, piloted by Fujita, made its way over to the mainland, circling over Mount Emily, just north of Oregon’s California border, near Brookings, Oregon. With the help of Petty Office Okuda Shoji, Fujita deployed the Glen’s payload — two 170 pound bombs — in hopes of starting a forest fire on the Pacific coast.
He failed, for the most part. The bombs were not dropped at the correct height and rainfall in the area the evening beforehand made the forest damp and less prone to catching fire. While some trees did, in fact, burn, the U.S. Forest Service was able to extinguish the blaze before it raged out of control.
Twenty days later, Fujita made a second run at the Oregon coast, dropping another pair of bombs after a 90 minute flight toward the coast. While he reported seeing flames, the bombing went unnoticed by Americans.
Fujita would return to Brookings, Oregon again — in 1962, as a delegate of peace. He brought with him a 400 year old samurai sword which he gave to the town as a gift upon their friendly reception of him. (Per the New York Times, he brought the sword with him so that he could commit ritual suicide if he were met with a hostile reception.) The city made Fujita an honorary citizen in 1987, just months before his death.
Bonus fact: In October, 1941, a group of counties on the Oregon/California border — including Curry County, where both Mount Emily and Brookings are — proposed a faux secession from their parent states, forming the “State of Jefferson.” (Their “Proclamation of Independence” stated that they were “in patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon” and would continue to “secede every Thursday until further notice,” per Wikipedia.) When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor that December, the Jefferson movement came to a halt. Oddly, had Jefferson successfully gained statehood, it would have played victim to Fujita’s attacks a year later.
From the Archives: Allergic to Paris: An odd syndrome which only seems to effect Japanese tourists who visit Paris.
Related: This is what the State of Jefferson’s flag looked like. It can be yours for 99 cents.