This day in history, May 5, 1945, Mrs. Elsie Mitchell and five neighborhood children were killed while attempting to drag a Japanese balloon out the woods in Lakeview, Oregon. They were not aware that the balloon was armed.
These six people are the only known American civilians to be killed in the continental United States during World War II. The site is marked by a stone monument at the Mitchell Recreation Area in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
As a result, the U.S. government gave $5,000 in compensation to Mitchell’s husband, and $3,000 each to the families of Jay Gifford, Edward Engen, Richard and Ethel Patzke, and Sherman Shoemaker, the five children killed in the explosion.
During World War II, only a handful of attacks on the continental United States were carried out by the Japanese. Japanese submarines and high-altitude balloons carried explosives and incendiaries, but little damage was done.