CAMP DODGE, IOWA — The recent downing of a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina and the downings of three other unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP) over the weekend have raised red flags about possible spy operations in the our sovereign air space. It would not be the first time that America has been spied on by balloon.
In 1944-45, there were some 9,300 bomb-bearing balloons launched toward the United States. The intention of these bombs was clear: to drop incendiary bombs to start forest fires in the western United States. Each balloon had one large bomb designed to inflict personal destruction. One did in Oregon, killing five people on a Sunday picnic outing.
At the Gold Star Museum on Camp Dodge in Johnston, there is a display about the Japanese Balloons. Of the 9,300 balloons launched, three made it as far as Iowa. Balloons landed near Laurens, Holstein, and Pocahontas.
“They traveled 5500 miles across the Pacific Ocean,” said Mike Vogt, Curator of the Iowa Gold Star Museum, “Most of them came down in the ocean, those which made it as far as United States, approximately 285 balloon fragments, parts pieces were recovered in the United States.”
The Japanese did not know if the balloons had any impact, as the incidents were not reported in the news, so Japan could not measure how effective they were.
The units consisted of a 30 foot high paper balloon, filled with hydrogen. It was regulated with a barometer and a device to control altitude.
“They had a desire to strike back at the continental United States,” said Vogt, ”They had fired a few rounds from submarines off the coast of California, they wanted build to something more effective more of a terror weapon was a planned an executed in the form of the Japanese Balloon Bombs.”
Vogt has had a chance to interview some who saw the balloons.
“I interviewed one young man who was about 12, he saw some float over his house in Oregon. he was originally from Iowa but relocated with his family during the war,” said Vogt, “I spoke to another eyewitness who is four years old at the time in the balloon, came down in they’re farm yard, and I government officials came to see it and some people in uniform, and he just watched out the window as a four year old, a white thing laying out there and found out later it was that one of the Japanese rice, paper, balloons.”
The Japanese Balloon Bomb display can been seen at the Iowa Gold Star Museum.