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WWII monument saved from the Bootleg Fire

The Mitchell Monument marks the only place in America where death resulted from enemy action during WWII.
Credit: Bootleg Fire

BLY, Ore. — The Mitchell Monument was saved from the Bootleg Fire, according to a spokesperson for the Bootleg Fire. The monument, located near Bly, Ore., exists to commemorate the six people who were killed on American soil during World War II by a bomb sent from Japan called a “Fugo.”

It is the only place in America where death resulted from enemy action.

Firefighters reduced the would-be fuel for the Bootleg Fire, the largest fire in the country, around the monument. A protective wrap was put on the shrapnel tree that is part of the monument and the interpretive sign. Fire retardant was also dropped from aerial resources, the spokesperson said.

Fugos were paper flash bombs with incendiary and anti-personnel bombs attached. They were sent to the West Coast of America from Japan via a jet stream of air that blew to the east. Using that airflow, three years after the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, which was the first air operation to strike Japan, one of the Fugos was discovered in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

A group of seven stumbled upon the Fugo and six people were killed. Among the dead were 26-year-old Elsie Mitchell, the pregnant wife of the lone survivor Archie Mitchell, 13-year-olds Jay Gifford, Edward Engen, Joan Patzke, 14-year-old Dick Patzke and 11-year-old Sherman Shoemaker.

Five years later, in 1950, a native-stone monument was created to honor those who had died. It is now a recreation site in the Fremont-Winema National Forest that houses picnic tables, grills and is a recommended bird watching site.