Nobuo Fujita, a Japanese pilot, was the only person to ever bomb the contiguous US. After the war, he was invited back to the same town he bombed (Brookings, Oregon).
Once there, Fujita offered his family’s katana to the mayor, as a token of remorse and humility.
Hours before sunrise off the coast of Oregon in September of 1942, there was movement on a submarine. It was nine months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and a team of Japanese sailors were quickly assembling a seaplane on the deck.
Next to them was a catapult for takeoff and a crane to pick the wheel-less plane from the sea after the mission – they were going to bomb the coast as retaliation for what was known as the ‘Doolittle raids’ which had struck Tokyo months prior.
30 year-old fighter pilot Nobuo Fujita had wanted to bomb LA or San Francisco – but had been told by his superiors to target Brookings, Oregon.
Fujita would ignite the forest, engulfing a chain of towns, drawing valuable resources away from battle and inciting fear throughout the West Coast.
But Oregon conditions wouldn’t allow it. It was wet and the bombs fizzled in the damp woods.
The crew packed away the plane and headed back West.
20 years later, a group of Brookings businessmen invited Fujita back for the towns’ Memorial Day celebrations.
When Fujita arrived, he gifted his families prized 400-year-old samurai sword to the town.
Brookings and Fujita forged a bond that lasted the next 3 decades. The town made him an honorary citizen in 1997. He passed away just days later at 85 years old.
A tree had been planted in the place where Fujita dropped the bombs, his daughter spread his ashes at the location. She said she felt his soul would be flying over the forest forever.