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As It Was: Brookings, Ore., Honors Japanese Bomber Pilot

 

On Sept. 9, 1942, Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita dropped incendiary bombs near the town of Brookings, Ore.

Fujita’s World War II mission was to start massive forest fires that would divert U.S. military resources.  His plane catapulted from a Japanese submarine 25 miles offshore.  One bomb landed on Mount Emily, where smoke was sighted and the other bomb was never located.  Recent rains dampened the fire danger.

Twenty years later, as a gesture of peacetime goodwill, the Brookings Jaycees invited Fujita to be an honored guest at the town’s Azalea Festival.  Their proposal ignited a heated community controversy at first.  A humble man, Fujita arrived with his family’s most prized possession, a 400-year-old samurai sword that he presented to the city as a gift.  Over the years, he made return visits, hosted exchange students, and funded further cultural exchanges.

Before he died in 1997, the City of Brookings declared the only pilot in history to bomb the continental United States an “honorary citizen.”  The sword remains on permanent display at the library and a trail leads to the bomb site, commemorated by a plaque and a dedicated redwood tree.

 

Sources: Rosman, John. "The Unlikely Bond Between An Oregon Town And The Man Who Bombed It." OPB - Arts & Life, 30 Aug. 2017, www.opb.org/artsandlife/series/history/nobuo-fujita-brookings-oregon-world-war-2/; Kristof, Nicholas. "Nobuo Fujita, 85, Is Dead; Only Foe to Bomb America." The New York Times, 3 Oct. 1997, www.nytimes.com/1997/10/03/world/nobuo-fujita-85-is-dead-only-foe-to-bomb-america.html; "Nobuo Fujita." Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobuo Fujita. "Japanese Bombing Site Trail #1118." Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest USDA USFS, www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/rogue-siskiyou/recarea/?recid=69514; Adams, Mike. Chetco - The Story of the River and Its People. Chetco Valley Historical Society, 2011, pp. 452-62.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.