Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

By David M. Kennedy | Go to book overview

21
The Cauldron of the Home Front

The Second World War is bound to change all trends. . . . [N]ot since Reconstruction has there been more reason to anticipate fundamental changes in American race relations, changes that will involve a development toward the American ideals.

-- Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma, 1944

On September 9, 1942, shortly before the sun peeped over the North American continent's western edge and drove the night from the sea, Japanese submarine I-25 porpoised to the surface of the Pacific Ocean a few miles off the Oregon coast. Moving with practiced efficiency in the darkness, its crew assembled a fragile, single-engine float plane on the boat's deck, slung two 168-pound incendiary bombs under its wings, and pitched it skyward with a catapult. Guided by the beam from the Cape Blanco lighthouse, Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita piloted his little aircraft over the coastal cliffs and into American airspace. As dawn was breaking, he released his two bombs into the dense pine and fir woods near the logging town of Brookings, wheeled oceanward again, and rendezvoused with his mother ship. Submarine, pilot, and airplane, swiftly restowed with folded wings into the boat's minuscule cargo hold, dove to safety.

Three weeks later, Fujita flew an almost identical mission, dropping two more incendiary devices into the coastal-range evergreen forest. With Fujita's second sortie, Japan's bombing campaign against the continental United States ended. His four bombs were the only ones ever to fall from an enemy aircraft onto any of the forty-eight American states in World War II. None did any serious damage.1

____________________
1
New York Times, October 3, 1997, C20.

-746-

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