In February of 1945, US Marines attacked the rocky Japanese island of Iwo Jima, whose name literally means 'Sulfur Island'. American military strategists planned the invasion as the first assault on one of Japan’s “Home Islands” in World War II, and its success would deny the Empire the use of the island for early warning purposes and as an emergency landing strip for its damaged aircraft, while providing the United States with the same advantages. On February 9, US Navy battleships and B-24 heavy bombers from the 7th Air Force began an intense bombardment of the Japanese troops garrisoned in the island's fortified bunkers which lasted for ten days.
"Look what I found, dear!" On May 5, 1945, Elsie Mitchell shouted these words back to her husband Archie, as he returned from parking the car for their church picnic outing in Bly, Oregon. Elsie, a pregnant 26-year-old Sunday school teacher, and five teenaged students approached the oddity they had found, half buried in a late-season snowbank. Someone shouted that it was a balloon, and one or more of the children tried to drag it back to a more open area. Archie Mitchell, a local pastor, had heard of explosive-laden balloons spotted near the west coast. He yelled back for them not to touch it, but it was too late, and the balloon contraption exploded, sending flames into the air and shaking the ground.