Monday, October 21, 2013

Japanese Balloon Bombs




Church where Archie and Elyse Mitchell attended.
  When I was stationed at Kingsley Field AFB in Klamath Falls Oregon from October 1968 until April 1970 I visited a local museum where I learned about a historical event that very few Americans know about. There was a strange object in the museum that had been part of a Japanese balloon bomb found in the forests around Klamath Falls. In November 1944 the Japanese military launched 9,000 balloon's that were 33 feet in diameter carrying 35 pounds of explosives. The Japanese called them Fugo's. They rose to an altitude of 30,000 feet where they were carried by the jet stream east where they arrived three days later over the west coast of the United States. The intent was to start massive fires and panic in the U.S. when these bombs exploded in the forests of the Northwest. This was in retaliation for the firebombing attacks of Japanese cities by the American Air Force. This would lift the morale of the Japanese people. The only problem with this plan was that the balloon attack occurred in the winter and rainy season when our forests were generally wet. Secondly, when these balloon's were found as far east as Nevada and Montana the U.S. Government ordered the news media to censor any reporting of them. Can you imagine the news media doing this today? They didn't want to encourage the Japanese to continue the attack. 

  Tragically six people were killed by one of these bombs in Oregon in May of 1945 when Elyse Mitchell, a pregnant Sunday School teacher, and five children ranging in age from 11 to 13 on a picnic found one of these balloon bombs in the forest. One of the children found the bomb and when the others in the group went to investigate the bomb blew up. This was the only time in World War II that Americans were killed in the continental U.S. by enemy action. The Reverend Archie Mitchell, husband of Elyse Mitchell remarried and became a Christian Missionary to Vietnam. In 1962 he was captured by the Viet Cong and was never heard from again. The third picture is the church where Archie and Elyse attended at the time of Elyse's death.

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