Sunday, February 25, 2007

I forgot what night this is...

...until a few moments ago, when the sound of a vintage air-raid siren -- yes, there are a few left Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea -- shattered the quiet night.

A few moments later, I could hear a .50-cal. machine gun and the boom of what sounded like anti-aircraft fire.

I looked out the window and saw that fireworks were substituting for the AA weapons. And I assume the .50 was firing blanks.

On the night of February 24, 1942, Japanese aircraft were supposedly spotted over Los Angeles. The Army responded by shooting into the night sky, with no result. Since the attackers would have flown over this area, a group of WWII vets and military buffs re-enact that night every year from a site a couple of blocks from here that once held naval and AA guns. The concrete pads are still there.

There have been countless stories about that night, and Spielberg made a nonsensical movie about it.

I've heard various stories, including a couple from my father, who was then flying anti-submarine patrols along the coast. There were a few Japanese subs operating offshore, and some of them may have had the ability to carry and launch seaplanes. Beyond that, nobody knows.

But the WWII vets and buffs have a grand time at 9:30 p.m. every Feb. 24th. They put on their tin hats and khakis and head down to the old fort to launch a few rounds against the phantom Japanese.

8 comments:

susananne said...

Even if no one knows the full story its still good for the vets to have their "night".Hope you have a good Sunday Mr Scribs.

lowandslow said...

Paranoia did indeed run high back in those days after Pearl Harbor. We now know the Japanese were stretched thin themselves, but at the time there were many "spottings" of their fleet just off the California coast. I'd like to see that re-enactment.

MrScribbler said...

l&s -- they did get to the West Coast, at least in subs. We'll never know for sure if they got any aircraft here.

BingoPajama said...

That's kinda cool. Did you join them or were you just listening?

MrScribbler said...

MsPajama -- by the time I figured out what it was, they were almost done. The whole thing only lasted about five minutes.

lowandslow said...

The Japs planned on assembling aircraft (attaching the wings) on the deck of surfaced submarines and attacking the Panama Canal, but I don't believe they ever pulled it off. After Pearl Harbor the US was fearful of an actual Japanesse invasion fleet attacking our West coast. The closest they came were the Aleutian Islands.

MrScribbler said...

l&s -- I'm pretty sure they did have float-planes on some of their subs that worked, but I've never heard of the attack on Panama being more than an idea.

They did, however shell two places on the California coast -- officially, I think the total is one, but I think it was two -- and then, late in the war, they sent some crude balloons carrying explosive charges across the ocean. A couple of fires were set in Washington State, and I believe one person was killed on the ground.

lowandslow said...

Some of those incendiary bombs attached to balloons made it as far east as Texas.