On October 2, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is sponsoring a dedication of a new interpretive facility and redesigned trail at the mile-long Wheeler Ridge Japanese
Bombing Site Trail, 19 miles outside of Brookings.
"We’re excited to have this new interpretive facility on the Forest,
one that tells the public about a fascinating and little-known event in
American history," said Scott Conroy, Forest Supervisor of the Rogue
River-Siskiyou National Forest. "We appreciate the various community
partners that have helped to make this event possible," said Conroy.
dedication ceremony will take place at the Wheeler Ridge trailhead, and
will include a short ceremony followed by a hike down the trail. During
this event, the agency will unveil new interpretive signs installed
along the trail. The Forest Service will acknowledge financial
donation towards the interpretive facility and a new bench, made by the
alumni of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and the City of
After the dedication ceremony, a hike of less
than a mile in length one-way will be lead by a Forest Service
historian to the newly designed trail overlook. In case of severe wind
and/or rain conditions, the trail dedication would be held at 9:30 a.m.
in the Chetco Community Library located at 405 Alder Street in
The following guests of honor will take part in the dedication ceremony:
Curry County resident and former four-term Oregon State Representative
Walt Schroeder will serve as master of ceremonies for the event.
- The Consul General Akio Egawa, Consulate-General of Japan in Portland.
Key note speaker at the event will be prominent American poet and Poet
Laureate the State of Oregon Lawson Fusao Inada. Mr. Inada is an
emeritus professor of writing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland
and an author of five books.
Forest Service speakers will include:
- Rick Brazell, Acting Deputy Regional Forester for the Pacific Northwest Region
- Scott Conroy, Forest Supervisor, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
- Alan Vandiver, Gold Beach District Ranger, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
newly completed interpretive trail tells the story and significance of
the event unique in American history that took place at the trailhead,
a unique spot as one of only four bombs ever dropped by enemy aircraft
on the continental United States and includes the following:
In 1942, the Army and the Forest Service jointly set up special
"Aircraft Warning Service" observation stations to scan the skies for
enemy aircrafts at fire lookouts in the Forest along the Oregon coast.
In early September 1942, a submarine voyaged all the way from Japan
with a small float plane disassembled inside. The submarine arrived
undetected just off the coast of southern Oregon. On September 9, 1942,
the Japanese pilot, Nobuo Fujita and his navigator Shoji Okuda, flew
the submarine-launched sea airplane that dropped bombs on Wheeler
Ridge. The pilot planned to drop an incendiary bomb from the airplane
and intended to start a forest fire.
Howard Gardner, an Aircraft Warning Service observer stationed on top
of Mt. Emily Fire Lookout in Brookings, initially spotted the fire and
radioed to the Forest Service’s Gold Beach Ranger Station on the
morning of September 9, 1942 that he spotted a smoke visible on Wheeler
Ridge, a few miles to the southeast of Mt. Emily. Forest Service
employees Howard Gardner and another lookout Keith Johnson from the
Bear Wallow Fire Lookout and two other men stationed near Brookings
hiked to the site and were the first to find and suppress the fire.
They encountered a small crater with metal fragments from a bomb at the
site. Due to the damp conditions in the Forest that year, the small
fire was quickly extinguished.
Later Japanese pilot Nobuo Fujita became an honored visitor to and
forged a long-standing friendship with the people of Brookings, Oregon.
Following his first visit to Brookings, in 1962, Mr. Fujita served for
many years as an informal "ambassador" of peace and friendship. He made
a number of visits to Brookings over the years, planting a redwood
peace tree at the bomb site in 1992. He later participated in the
dedication of the 1994 state highway marker to the bomb site.
Following Nobuo Fujita’s death in 1997, his daughter, Yoriko Asakura,
buried some of his ashes at the Wheeler Ridge site and placed them
under a small redwood-seedling in his honor.
In 2001, the bombsite redwood tree was dedicated as an "Oregon Heritage
Tree". The guest of honor at the ceremony was Toyojiro Soejima, Consul
General of Japan, who spoke of past and current relations between
Oregon and his country.
In September 1998, a visiting group of fourteen former Japanese naval
officers that were Japanese Naval Academy trainees of World War II
visited Brookings to retrace the history of Mr. Fujita. They donated
$1,060 to the City of Brookings. The City of Brookings later provided
dollars as a gift to the Forest Service to use as a donation to improve
the historic interpretation of the Wheeler Ridge Japanese Bombing Site
- In October 2008,
the Forest Service working with assistance from community partners
sponsored a dedication of a new interpretive facility and redesigned
trail at the mile-long Wheeler Ridge Japanese Bombing Site.