Mainland United States has never been bombed . . . WRONG! 

 Nobuo Fujita's almost forgotten attack!

  Click here for the Japanese viewpoint!
On September 9, 1942, Nobuo Fujita, a Chief Warrant Officer and pilot in the Japanese Imperial Navy, and his crew man, Petty Officer Shoji Okuda, surfaced in the Japanese submarine I-25 off the coast of Oregon near Brookings. His tiny seaplane had folding wings and was transported in a small Hangar attached to the deck of the submarine. Thus began the mission which would write Fujita in the history books.

 The Quizlet Poll Results

I wasn't able to fool many with this question. Of the 301 responses in two weeks, 70 % got it right.

Here is the final tally:
Nisei Japanese-American won CMH in 1944... 07%
Engineer: Designed Mira Flores Locks 1904.. 03 %
Pilot: Only one EVER to bomb mainland US .... 70%
1st Japanese to land in Singapore, 1942 ........... 05%
Planned attack on Midway. Yamamoto's staff ... 11%
Designed wing for F4U .......................................... 05%

The Airplane

Fajita's aircraft was a Uokosuka E14Y1, nicknamed "Glen" by the Americans. It was powered by a 9-cylinder, 340 hp Haitachi Tempu 12 radial engine that pushed it to a normal cruising speed of 85 mph and a maximum speed of about 150 mph. Constructed of a metal and wood airframe, with fabric-covered wing and tail surfaces, the aircraft weighed just 3,500 pounds, including the twin floats. With its wingspan of 36 feet, the Glen could remain airborne nearly five hours, giving it approximately a 200-mile operating range. It carried a crew of two, plus a bomb load of 340 pounds. Defensive armament consisted of only one rear-mounted 7.7mm machine gun.

His mission was so secret that it came as a total surprise to American military intelligence. Indeed, it was so secret that it was a half-day after the attack before Americans knew there had been an attack at all!

Still smarting from Doolittle's bombing of Tokyo five months earlier, Japanese strategy was to cause enough damage to induce U.S. leaders to withdraw all or part of the U.S. Navy from the Western Pacific — thereby reducing pressure on Japan's Navy. Fugita's particular mission over Oregon was to start a giant forest fire. They hoped that the bombs would ignite the forest and spread to the cities — "burning homes and factories and sending the American people into panic and depression." Fujita flew southeast over the Oregon coast dropping incendiary bombs on Mount Emily, 10 miles northeast of Brookings. After Fujita's bombing run on Mount Emily, the I-25 came under attack by U.S. Navy patrol aircraft, forcing the submarine to hide on the ocean floor off Port Orford.


How important were these two bombing attacks on the U.S.? These were the only times in history that America has been bombed from the air. For the Japanese — a major propaganda victory, one that made banner headlines on the home front and to some extent evened the score for the April 18, 1942, Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo. From a military viewpoint, though, the bombing raids were meaningless. No significant fire was started nor was there collateral damage. Although there was some public American concern followed the attacks, there was no widespread panic on the U.S., at least partially due to heavy press censorship. The raids were not repeated. Aircraft - carrying submarines soon disappeared into the category of obsolete weapons. Only one more Japanese submarine, the I-12, operated off the West Coast during the remainder of the war. I-25 was sunk less than a year later by USS Patterson (DD-392) off the New Hebrides Islands on September 3, 1943.

The American attacks were unsuccessful, and Fujita was able to launch an additional bombing sortie three weeks later. Fujita's crew man Okuda was later killed in action, but Fujita continued flying until 1944, when he returned to Japan to train kamikaze pilots. He survived the war to become a successful businessman. He tried throughout the final 35 years of his life to repair the damage of the war by building a bridge of peace and respect between Japan and the United States. "He was so very sorry. He had very, very deep regrets," said Ernie Bowers, 61, a close friend of Fujita's. Fujita visited Brookings after the war four times. He gave Brookings his family's 400-year-old Samurai sword as a gesture of

WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon Samari Sword

  Picture of the memorial case. The sword is somewhat hidden by the model submarine but reflection off the glass made it difficult to get a good picture.

Photo by Roger Haag

peace and good will during his first visit in 1962. The sword was placed in the mayor's office, where it remains today. He also was host to a group of Brookings-Harbor High School students at his home in Japan. He was an honored guest at the 1990 annual Azalea Festival in Brookings. The Brookings City Council declared Fujita an honorary citizen.

Fujita's ashes now rest on the same spot where his first bombs landed just east of Brookings.

WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon  monument
Picture of the sign at the actual bomb site. Photo by John Dalk
 The site of the bombing is marked and can be visited via a good gravel road. Pick up a trail guide at the Chetco Ranger District office in Brookings. From town, allow about three hours for the drive and 3/4-mile hike. Sturdy shoes are advised! The Bombsite Trail (No. 1118) is one mile long on Wheeler Ridge several miles east of Brookings. To get to it, from U.S. 101, take South Bank Road up the Chetco River to  Forest Service Road No. 1205 (Mt. Emily Road) and follow the signs. The trail is on No. 1205 after spur No. 260. The trail is part of a national recreation user-fee program and requires a $3 parking fee.

Who's idea was this?

This all started with an intriguing note from Dr. K. Inge Holman, Pensacola, FL. He said: "On September 9, 1942 Flying a small airplane secretly launched from an offshore submarine, Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita dropped two incendiary devices on the coast of Oregon, becoming the only person ever to drop a bomb on the mainland of the United States."

WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon

A Personal Story of a Meeting with Nobuo Fujita

by Roger Haag, Brookings, Oregon

 In May of 1995 we had some visitors: Lyle and Jane Bower who came to Brookings to spend the weekend with us. They flew into our local airport in their Beechcraft Bonanza and we picked them up. Flying is the passion of Lyle's life and he has spent his career as an instructor, corporate pilot, etc. After a couple of days of visiting, we drove them back up to the airport for their departure. Shortly after our arrival, we got involved chatting with a local Brookings pilot by the name of Glen Woodfin, who also owned a Beech Bonanza which he was pre-flighting.

Glen told us he was waiting for Mr. Fujita to arrive and that he was planning
WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon group picture

 left to right Glen Woodfin, myself, Fujita (he wanted to hold hands)

to fly him over the site where the bomb fell some fifty-plus years earlier. Sure enough, a few minutes later a car pulls up with Mr. Fujita and another person from Brookings.

Interestingly, no interpreter — this was a sign language operation with a lot of smiling and bowing. Needless to say, we took advantage of the opportunity to get a few pictures.

WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon  Fujita Wife and Roger
left to right myself, Fujita, my wife Patty
We have forwarded some, including a picture from our local newspaper, as well as a picture of the Fujita family Samurai sword which is on display at our library.

A somewhat humorous situation developed at the airport as the Bowers began to taxi for departure. The weather was not real great and the low ceiling was getting lower — probably close to minimums for an instrument take-off. Being a pilot too, it was not lost on Mr. Fujita that one Bonanza was taking off and the other Bonanza wasn't. The local
 pilot was trying to explain with gestures, inflections etc., that the mountain top they wanted to fly over was in the soup Mr. Fujita did a lot of listening, smiling
and made some signs of his own. We were to learn later that it was four or five hours before the ceiling lifted and they got to make their flight over the bomb site.

Being a native Oregonian, I still have recollection of the bombing event. Certainly there was never a thought in my mind that I might get to meet the pilot a half-century later and find him to be a sweet, cheerful man who was doing what he could to make amends.
WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon News Clipping

 Newspaper photo: Nobuo Fujita [laces sword in special case in Chetco community library

WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon A Modern Japanese view

But is he a hero?

A Modern Japanese Physician and Scholar looks at  Nobuo Fujita's Attack

By Makio Mukai, M.D., Tokyo, Japan

I am a Japanese born in 1947. I was heartily surprised at an item in this website, "Nobuo Fujita's almost forgotten attack," because I did not know this fact at all although I am a Japanese. You American people may think it unbelievable that I do not know this fact though I am a Japanese. However, I have the confidence

WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon A modern Japanese view Makio Mukai
Makio Mukai, M.D.
Department of Pathology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo
to say clearly that this fact is unknown by most of the Japanese people. With regard to the fact related to "Nobuo Fujita's attack," I asked my family members, friends, and acquaintances, but they did not know. The reason why most of the Japanese people do not know this fact will be described lastly.

I know the fact at this time and I investigated various documents and newspaper accounts. I now know, for the first time, that Mr. Nobuo Fujita was rather famous among some Japanese people, although most Japanese people do not know.

The item of this website described Mr. Nobuo Fujita exactly. However, I could get some facts from above-mentioned documents and newspaper accounts which were not described in the item of this website. These facts will be briefly summarized below.

When bombing attacks of the U.S. mainland were planned by the Japanese naval general offices in those days, attacks of aircraft manufacturers and naval bases in California may also have been thought of by some people. After all, however, the office decided to induce wood fires by dropping fire bombs on wooded regions in Oregon. If fires occurred in wooded regions of the west coast of the U.S., they will be hard to put out. On the basis of this belief, the Japanese naval office judged that the American people will become totally exhausted controlling the wood fires and lose their fighting spirit at the war. The reason why Mr. Nobuo Fujita was appointed to the special mission was that he had been known to be the pilot with the best technical skill in the naval forces.

He wrote a testamentary letter before he made a sally, since he believed that he would not return safely to the base.

His bombing attack failed to cause any wood fire as would spread panic over the American people. The most possible reason was that the wooded regions in Oregon were considerably moist, because the weather had been stormy there before the days of the attack.

After the war, he was surprised when he was invited by Brookings City, and he worried himself being judged as a war criminal. Eventually, he accepted the invitation and went to the U.S. On that occasion, he brought with him the hereditary Japanese sword with intention of killing himself if the worst should happen. When he arrived, however, he was expected with the citizens' cordial welcomes. At this time, he was deeply impressed with the broad-minded attitude of the country, USA, and he felt actually, for the first time, that Japan was defeated by USA. He decided to present the Japanese sword brought with him as a proof of peace to Brookings City. Furthermore, he intended to reward something to USA after he returned to Japan, since he was deeply impressed with the American generosities.

He certainly succeeded as a businessman after the war, but his company went bankrupt later. Even so, he saved money from a small income over many years and he invited high school students in Brookings City with the money, because he was deeply touched by the American broad-minded attitude.

In 1985, three girl students in Brookings City were invited to Japan. Some people remembered that he had acted as a guide for them with a really delightful look on that occasion.

He was presented a dedicatory letter, "With admiration for your kindness and generosity" from President Reagan in those days.

On September 30, 1997, Mr. Nobuo Fujita, 85 years old, died. A part of his ashes were brought to Brookings, because he had eager desire for placement of his ashes remains in his second home, USA."

Then, why do not most of the Japanese people know him? What I am going to write is not the opinion of all Japanese people. This is my exceedingly personal opinion, but I am confident that my opinion shown below should not be quite wrong.

What I must say first is that USA was a winner and Japan was a loser at World War ll. You American people have "an easy and graceful attitude as a winner," I think. That seems to be why they could invite Mr. Nobuo Fujita after the war. All winners at all wars do not necessarily have such generous attitude, of course. I believe that the American people's specific generosities in addition to "the generous attitude as a winner" may have led the fact that he was so welcomed. However, if USA had been defeated by Japan (although such a thing had been quite impossible!), I wonder the country should have invited him.

Japan lost to USA at World War ll, and of course did not have "an easy and graceful attitude." After the war, Japan could be regenerated to the country where democracy is held in esteem. This is really a glad thing, and we may be indebted to the result (Japan lost the war to USA) for the regeneration. However, a phenomenon occurred in Japan in the process of the regeneration to the country where democracy is held in esteem after the war; the phenomenon was a trend showing that everything the Japanese people have conducted before the regeneration was wrong. In other words, the trend showed that everything the Japanese people had conducted at World War ll was wrong. On the basis of this trend, there is no hero of World War ll in Japan. "Any glorious achievement by the military personnel who fought at World War ll" does not exist, whatever achievement he did.

However, this trend is a little changing in some sectors of Japan. Mind you, American people, it is impossible to make a website, such as "Kilroy was here", in Japan yet! There is few or no website about Japanese veterans now.

Editor's note: Dear Makia, thank you for this insight into Japanese feelings about the war and the United States. The last part, however, saddens me. Like American boys, young Japanese reported for duty when they heard their country's call. Their country lost the war, but many fought with valor and courage and those who served honorably should be remembered and honored for that! Many tough and grizzled U.S. combat veterans have mentioned with awe the way some Japanese soldiers held out – sometimes for decades after the war was over. I hope your combat veterans who fought with honor and bravery are remembered before it is too late.

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WWII Kilroy Was Here Bomb Oregon A modern Japanese view Makio Mukai

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