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Oregon Coast Guard Responds to Japanese Bombing

When a small warplane rose from a Japanese submarine and dropped incendiary bombs near Brookings, Ore., during World War II, it failed to ignite any forest fires as intended.  However, the bombing, and similar threats on the U.S. west and east coasts, did prompt enhanced U.S. Coast Guard vigilance.

The Coast Guard established a series of watchtowers along the coastline and formed a Beach Patrol nicknamed the Sand Pounders.  Even before the bombing, U.S. troops were monitoring river inlets 24 hours a day. 

The Sand Pounders, working in pairs, rode horses along beaches of the Pacific Coast.  They carried with them communication radios, pistols, and submachine guns.  As the tide of war turned, the Coast Guard reduced the Beach Patrol and reassigned its younger men to the D-Day Invasion of Europe.

The Sand Pounders never did find any enemy infiltrators, but they did send a message to Japan and Germany that the American home front was not going to be an easy target. 

One historian wrote, “The fact that they never saw any action doesn’t mean they were a failure; in

fact. . . it’s a certification of their complete success.”

Sources:  John, Finn J. “Coast Guard ‘Sand Pounders’ kept Oregon coast secure.” Douglas County News 18 Mar. 2015: B3. Print;  Slover, Eugene L. "The Day a Japanese Plane Bombed Oregon." Gene Slovers U.S. Navy Pages. N.p., 2 Oct. 2015. Web. 26 Dec. 2015. .

Dr. James S. Long was an As It Was contributor until his passing in January of 2016. He met editor Kernan Turner when Kernan spoke to the Roseburg writers’ club about contributing to JPR's As Is Was series. His contributions to As It Was ranged from a story about the recovery of whitetail deer at the old Dunning Ranch to the story of Nick Botner’s private orchard near Yoncalla created to preserve over 3,000 heritage apple varieties.