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February 23rd Anniversary Of First World War II Attack On U.S. Mainland: It Happened Near Goleta

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February 23rd marks the anniversary of a forgotten day in U.S. history which put a South Coast community into headlines from coast to coast.

It’s the day when World War II came to the U.S. mainland, and it happened just west of Goleta.

It was the early days of World War II for the United States, less than three months after Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese submarine I-17 surfaced off the coast of Ellwood just after 7 p.m. For about 20 minutes, the sub lobbed shots from a deck gun at the Ellwood oil facility, causing some minor damage. No one was hurt.

But, the shelling created fears of an invasion, and panic. The following night, anti-aircraft guns around Los Angeles opened fire after receiving reports of incoming aircraft. There were no attacking planes, just random gunfire from guns on the ground in what became known as the “Battle Of Los Angeles.”

However, during the first few months of the war, subs did sink or damage a handful of merchant ships off the West Coast.