How the Japanese bombed Michigan during World War II | 2/23/1945 | Staff
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Nine-year-old Lawrence “Buzz” Bailey and two neighbor kids ran excitedly toward a large balloon floating to earth on farmland in North Dorr, a rural community in Allegan County south of Grand Rapids. It was Feb. 23, 1945, and they didn’t realize they were discovering the remnants of a Japanese attack on the U.S.

Bailey went on to serve in the U.S. Army in Germany in the early 1950s. "I tell the guys in the VFW post I'm a part of that I was in the Second World War at age 9," says Bailey, now 84 and living in Newaygo. "I was a balloon expert."

November - Anniversary - Start - Chapter - World

November marks the 75th anniversary of the start of an unusual, mostly unknown chapter of World War II — Operation Fu-Go, the Japanese launching of more than 9,300 large, bomb-laden, hydrogen balloons, carried east across the Pacific Ocean by the jet stream at high altitudes to cause destruction and chaos in the U.S. and Canada.

The effort mostly failed, though about 280 of the balloons or their components were later found in North America, with the two easternmost discoveries being in Michigan — at North Dorr and another discovered near 8 Mile and Gill roads in Farmington the following month.

Balloon - Attacks - US - News - Media

The balloon attacks went almost completely uncovered in the U.S. news media at the time — because the U.S. War Department wanted it that way. American media largely adhered to a request from the federal government's Office of Censorship to not publicize the balloon findings.

"It was a different era," said Ross Coen, an assistant professor of history at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and author of "Fu-Go: The Curious History of Japan's Balloon Bomb Attack on America."

Streets - Bombs - Skies - United - States

"They didn’t want there to be panic in the streets over bombs raining down silently from the skies all over the United States. But...
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