Japanese Pilot Who Bombed Oregon Keeps Promise
BROOKINGS, Ore. (AP) _ Twenty-three years ago, the only Japanese pilot to bomb the U.S. mainland during World War II promised to make amends by bringing some American students to Japan.
On Sunday, Nobuo Fujita, who dropped two incendiary bombs near Brookings on Sept. 9, 1942, kept his promise as one of the sponsors of an all-expense-paid trip to Japan for three local high school students.
Fujita, now 73, was a warrant flying officer when he and Petty Officer 2nd Class Yukio Okuda catapulted in their seaplane off the 30-foot deck of a small Japanese submarine.
With Fujita at the controls, the plane headed over the forests of Mount Emily. The idea of dropping incendiary bombs was to start forest fires that would spread to the cities, causing panic on the West Coast. The bombs failed to set off the expected fires, however.
In May 1962, Fujita was the guest of honor at the Azalea Festival in Brookings as a gesture of forgiveness and good will.
The visit divided the community and made national headlines. Some people, remembering the war, were unforgiving. Letters to the editor and community discussion often criticized the invitation.
Fujita, as a mark of his good will to the community, left his family’s 400- year-old samurai sword in Brookings - and a promise to invite students to Japan.
The three students leaving Sunday for Japan - Robyn Soiseth, Sarah Cortell and Lisa Phelps, all seniors next year at Brookings-Harbor High School - are being sponsored by Fujita with help from Time-Life Inc., Sony Corp. and the Japanese Rotary.
The students have taken classes in Japanese culture and will visit such sightseeing attractions as the Tsukuba Science Expo ’85 during their weeklong trip as well as paying a call on Fujita.
Their trip was planned by members of the Jaycees in Brookings and in two Japanese cities: Mitsukaido and Ayase.
The girls will be joined by Mark Mead and his wife, Margaret. Mead was 6 years old when Fujita attended the Azalea Festival, and he told the ex-pilot then that he wanted to see Japan.
Brookings Jaycees President Mike Moran and Vice President Don McDonald raised money to join the trip. They plan to deliver mementos to Fujita, including an autographed picture of President Reagan, letters from state and national legislators and Gov. Vic Atiyeh, and a flag flown over the nation’s Capitol in Fujita’s honor May 1.