In 1942, Nobuo Fujita became the only Japanese pilot to bomb the U.S. mainland in World War II.
Fujita traveled to the unprotected waters off the Oregon Coast by submarine. Hidden beneath the Pacific, the sub concealed a small plane with folded wings. It allowed Fujita and the crew of 100 to approach America unseen and undetected.
In the dark, before the dawn, the plane was assembled. A catapult shot Fujita and the plane into the sky allowing him to drop two 168-pound bombs near the small town of Brookings, Oregon.
The town’s natives spotted the plane. But they had no big guns to shoot at it, only deer rifles.
Fujita returned to the submarine. The pilot would carry out a similar mission three weeks later.
After returning home, Fujita received a hero’s welcome. His bombing hit the headlines. On September 17th, 1942, the front page of the Asahi newspaper read, “Bomb Dropped on Oregon State. First Air Raid on Mainland America. Big Shock to Americans.”
Fujita was a reserved and humble man. After the war, he never spoke about the raids or of his younger brother, who had lost his life in the war.
In 1962, Fujita announced to his shocked family that he had bombed Oregon. He also revealed he had been invited to the small town of Brookings. He said he would take his 400-year-old samurai-sword with him. The sword had been in his family for generations.
Fujita told his daughter he feared the people of Brookings would still be angry with him. If necessary, he planned to commit ritual suicide with his sword in the traditional Japanese method of seppuku.
When Fujita arrived at the remote town of 5,400, he was astonished to receive a warm welcome. He was deeply moved by their hospitality and respect. He felt he did not deserve such affection.
Fujita donated his sword to the town, and it now hangs in the library as a symbol of his regret. Fujita also gave $1000 to the library. They used it to buy children’s books about Japan. The hope was to prevent future war and promote peace between America and Japan for generations to come.
Fujita made three more trips to Brookings before his death of lung cancer in 1997. Shortly before his death, the Brookings town council hailed him as ”ambassador of good will” and an “honorary citizen” of the town.