But Fujita has another improbable record to his name: he's also the only U.S. enemy to bomb an American city ... and then be honored by that city.
How the hell does that happen? Through the power of forgiveness and stupid businesspeople. In the early '60s, the Japanese economy was booming and Fujita had become a successful store owner. That's when some folks at the Brookings Junior Chamber of Commerce had the bright idea of inviting him back to Brookings to garner some attention for the upcoming Azalea Festival. Local war veterans, however, poo-pooed the idea, citing "were you huffing cat farts when you planned this or did you forget that WWII happened?" as cause for concern.
Two things changed their minds, though: 1) the planners dropped the cash-crazed circus sideshow angle and approached Fujita's visit as an effort to foster goodwill between countries, and 2) Fujita himself offered to relinquish his 400-year-old family samurai sword to the city as an act of "final surrender."
Bombs Over Brookings / William McCash
"And here are the keys to the family Voltron."
According to Fujita's daughter, the former pilot was so ashamed of what he'd done that if he got to Brookings and people started booing him, he was prepared to use the same sword to commit seppuku. That wasn't necessary, though, because the people of Brookings received him with Beatlemania-esque enthusiasm (consider that the town's most famous celebrity is the guy who edited Cleopatra, "Uncredited"). Humbled, Fujita promised he'd pay for three Brookings students to visit Japan. Unfortunately, he then went bankrupt and lost his store ... so he just saved up money for 20 years until he was finally able to fulfill his promise in 1985.
Fujita's visits to Brookings became a beloved tradition, and when the city heard he had fallen ill in 1997, they made him an honorary citizen. At his request, some of his ashes were buried in the same forest he once attacked. No word on whether they borrowed a Japanese bomber to drop them.
The ashes promptly caught fire and burned the whole place down.
For more heartwarming tales, check out 6 True Stories That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity and The 5 Most Adorable Stories in the History of War.
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