Bottom part of a balloon bomb Drawing of a balloon bomb

Photos courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

     The Japanese sent balloons with bombs to the United States. The balloons floated in the air from Japan to the West Coast. Because they were small and quiet, no one knew they were coming. When the balloons reached the United States, they were supposed to explode. They were supposed to start fires in the forests and cause people to panic. The balloon bombs did not work very well. Thousands fell into the ocean. Others did not explode. Several balloons did travel as far as South Dakota, but no one was injured or killed there. One made it to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Others made it to Buffalo, Custer, Wolsey, and Madison.

     The bottom part of one balloon can be seen in the picture. The drawing shows the whole balloon. A balloon bomb can also be seen on display at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.