Media Blackout | Woman and 5 Children on Picnic in Oregon | World War II Casualties in Oregon

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, 2,390 lives were lost and the United States was dragged into World War II. but it is a mistake to believe but no one was killed on the US Mainland as a result of the war.


On May 5, 1945, a Japanese balloon bomb killed six Americans picnicking near the town of Bly, Oregon. The Japanese launched some 9,000 balloon bombs against the United States during World War II. They attached incendiary and anti-personnel bombs to large hydrogen-filled balloons and released them into the jet stream winds to float 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean and explode in the forested regions of Western States.

This, they hoped, would cause widespread forest fires and divert U.S. manpower and resources away from the war in the Pacific.

Officially, only 285 of the balloons reached North America, though experts estimate that approximately 1,000 made it across the Pacific Ocean. The US military successfully orchestrated a media blackout of the bombings to deny the Japanese any publicity of success. The first balloon landed near San Pedro, California, On November 4th, 1944. The bombs traveled as far north as Canada, as far south as the Arizona border with Mexico, and as far east as Farmington, Michigan, just 10 miles from Detroit. The US military shot some down, while others landed without exploding. None, however, succeeded in creating the major forest fires Japan desired.

When a 13 year old girl on a church picnic in the woods near Bly, Oregon, discovered one of the balloons, she attempted to pull it from a tree. It exploded, killing the girl, the church minister’s wife, and four other children. These six were the only War casualties on the US Mainland during World War II. Had the Japanese perfected the balloon bombs and used germ or biological weapons, that statistic, and the outcome of the war, might have been very different.

 

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