|Died||30 Sep 1997|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Nobuo Fujita was born in Japan in 1911. He joined the Japanese Navy in 1932 and became a pilot in the following year. At the start of the Pacific War, he was originally assigned to fly his submarine-launched (I-25) E14Y seaplane in a reconnaissance mission prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, United States, but malfunction caused him to abort the mission. Before daybreak on 17 Feb 1942, I-25 launched his E14Y seaplane, and he performed a reconnaissance mission on Sydney, Australia, returning to the submarine by 0730. On 26 Feb, he performed a similar mission over Melbourne, Australia, followed by Hobart, Australia on 1 Mar, Wellington, New Zealand on 8 Mar, Auckland, New Zealand on 13 Mar, and Fiji on 17 Mar. On 28 May 1942, he performed a reconnaissance mission over Kodiak, Alaska, United States in preparation for the invasion of the Aleutian Islands.
Fujita suggested to his superiors the possibilities of using submarine-launched seaplanes to attack continental United States, and he was given permission to perform such a mission. At 0600 on 9 Sep 1942, I-25 surfaced near the border of the states of Oregon and California and launched the E14Y seaplane manned by Warrant Flying officer Fujita and Petty Officer Okuda Shoji and armed with two 160-pound incendiary bombs. One of the bombs was dropped on Wheeler Ridge on Mount Emily in Oregon, starting a small fire ten miles east of Brookings, Oregon. On 29 Sep, he attacked again and reported that he was able to start a fire, but this was not reported by the Americans. I-25 headed back for Japan after Fujita's attacks, with the submarine sinking American merchantmen SS Camden and SS Larry Doheny and Russian submarine L-16 (by mistake, as Japan and Russia were not at war) during the same patrol. His two bombings became the only aerial bombings on the continental United States throughout the entire length of WW2.
In 1944, Fujita was transferred to a unit that trained for kamikaze special attacks. He remained with that unit until the end of the war.
After the war, Fujita was invited to Brookings, Oregon in 1962, 1990, 1992, and 1995. On his first trip in 1962, he presented his family's 400-year-old sword to the city of Brookings as a gesture of reconciliation. In 1985, he sponsored three high school students from Brookings to visit Japan. On his 1992 trip, he planted a tree at the 9 Sep 1942 bombing site as a gesture of peace. He was made an honorary citizen of Brookings in mid-Sep 1997, several days before he passed away. Part of his ashes was buried at the bombing site by his daughter, Yoriko Asakura, in Oct 1998.
Nobuo Fujita Timeline
|17 Feb 1942||Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita, flying an E14Y floatplane from Japanese submarine I-25, flew over Sydney Harbor, Australia at 0430 hours, conducting a reconnaissance mission. He was back aboard I-25 by 0730 hours.|
|8 Mar 1942||Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita, flying in a submarine-based (submarine I-25) E14Y aircraft, conducted a photographic reconnaissance mission over Wellington harbor in New Zealand.|
|13 Mar 1942||Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita, flying in a submarine-based (submarine I-25) E14Y aircraft, conducted a photographic reconnaissance mission over Auckland, New Zealand.|
|27 Jul 1942||Nobuo Fujita was summoned to the Navy Ministry at Kasumigaseki, Tokyo, Japan, where he would be personally ordered by Prince Nobuhito of Takamatsu to bomb a major target in the United States using a submarine-borne attack aircraft.|
|9 Sep 1942||The Lookout Air Raid: After some time waiting submerged off Oregon, United States, Japanese submarine I-25 launched her E14Y aircraft, flown by Pilot Chief Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita and crewman Petty Officer Shoji Okuda, shortly after dawn. The aircraft was spotted by the Americans as it crossed the coast. It dropped two incendiary bombs in a forest near Brookings, Oregon at 0600 hours; this attack was the only aerial bombing against the United States during WW2. En route back to the submarine, the aircraft spotted two merchant ships. After recovering Fujita and Okuda, I-25 attempted to give chase to the two merchant ships, but US aircraft would force I-25 to abandon the attack and submerge.|
|30 Sep 1997||Nobuo Fujita passed away.|
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Winston Churchill, 1935