The Lookout Air Raids were minor, but historic, World War II Japanese air raids that occurred in the mountains of Oregon, several miles outside Brookings. This was the only time during World War II that mainland America suffered an air raid attack by enemy forces.
On September 9, 1942, a Japanese Yokosuka E14Y floatplane launched from a Japanese submarine and dropped two incendiary bombs with the intention of starting a forest fire. Thanks to a patrol of fire lookouts and favorable weather conditions the damage done by the attack was minor. The attack was the first time the continental United States was bombed by an enemy aircraft.
Twenty years later, the floatplane’s pilot, Nobuo Fujita, was invited back to Brookings. Before he made the trip the Japanese government was assured he would not be tried as a war criminal. In Brookings Fujita served as Grand Marshal for the local Azalea Festival. At the festival, Fujita presented his family’s 400-year-old samurai sword to the city as a symbol of regret. Fujita made a number of additional visits to Brookings, serving as an “informal ambassador of peace and friendship”. Impressed by his welcome in the United States, in 1985 Fujita invited three female students from Brookings to Japan. During the visit of the Brookings-Harbor High School students to Japan, Fujita received a dedicatory letter from an aide of President Ronald Reagan “with admiration for your kindness and generosity.” Fujita returned to Brookings in 1990, 1992, and 1995. In 1992 he planted a tree at the bomb site as a gesture of peace. In 1995, he moved the samurai sword from the Brookings City Hall into the new library’s display case. He was made an honorary citizen of Brookings several days before his death on September 30, 1997, at the age of 85. In October 1998, his daughter, Yoriko Asakura, buried some of Fujita’s ashes at the bomb site.