Suspicious Balloon Gives WY Flashbacks To Japanese Balloon Bombs
By now you've heard about the Chinese balloon over Montana.
They seem to be observing -- something.
The Chinese say it's a private Chinese balloon that was doing weather observations and got away.
The Pentagon says they are not worried about it and are observing and learning.
This would not be the first time folks out west looked to the skies and worried about foreign balloons and the danger they might cause.
Let's go back to WWII.
The Japanese actually bombed the mainland USA, including WYOMING, with Balloons.
It mostly did not work.
December 5, 1944, a Japanese balloon bomb landed just outside of Thermopolis, Wyoming.
Around 6:15 p.m., four coal miners heard a whistling noise overhead, followed by an explosion that sent flames parachuting across the night sky.
The bomb was one of over 9,300 hydrogen Fu-Go balloons launched from Japan and is believed to be the first to land in the United States.
Considered the world's first intercontinental weapon, the campaign was a failure.
While several hundred balloons eventually made landfall, they did little damage and were responsible for only six casualties.
The Japanese Navy hoped the offensive would incite public panic.
Instead, the United States War Department issued a censorship order prohibiting newspapers from reporting the mysterious balloons.
While the bomb in Thermopolis was the only documented explosion in Wyoming during War War II, other balloons may have landed in the state.
Over the years, hundreds of fragments from Japanese balloon bombs have been discovered in remote areas of Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington.
In 1945, a Japanese Balloon Bomb Killed Six Americans, Five of Them Children, in Oregon.
In Gearhart Mountain, Oregon, Mrs. Elsie Mitchell and five neighborhood children are killed while attempting to drag a Japanese balloon out of the woods. Unbeknownst to Mitchell and the children, the balloon was armed, and it exploded soon after they began tampering with it.
The military kept the true story of their deaths, the only civilians to die at enemy hands on the U.S. mainland, under wraps.