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On May 5, 1945, Reverend Archie Mitchell took his five-month pregnant wife and a group of five children from the church, where he was the pastor, for picnic and fishing up in the mountains near Bly in Oregon. Mitchell dropped the group near a logging road so that they could hike through the woods while he drove up the mountain. The picnickers eventually arrived at Leonard Creek, where they intended to lunch. While Mitchell was unloading the vehicle, he heard one of the children say, “Look at what we’ve found! It looks like some kind of balloon.” Archie Mitchell’s wife, Elise, and the children ran to see what had been found. Moments later, an explosion ripped through the mountain stillness, instantly killing Elsie Mitchell along with Sherman Shoemaker, Edward Engen, Jay Gifford, Joan Patzke,and Dick Patzke, all aged between 11 and 14 years old. These were the only people killed by enemy attack on American soil in the Second World War.


A tree snags a balloon bomb in Kansas on Feb. 23, 1945. Photo credit: Japan Times

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