FIRST FORIEGN AERIAL BOMBER
Located in Bisbee, Arizona, the Big Jeep Tours attraction takes visitors on a journey through the rich history of the Cochise County border, including the story of Patrick Murphy, the first foreign aerial bomber in American history. Murphy was an Irish-American pilot who owned a biplane during the Cristero War in Mexico. In 1929, he was hired by Pancho Villa's rebels to bomb the government-controlled town of Naco, Sonora.
However, Murphy's poor accuracy, possibly due to high winds and alcohol consumption, led to him accidentally bombing the Arizona border town of Naco, Arizona instead, destroying various buildings and a car. His assistant, who was still hungover from a night of drinking, even tried to light the bombs with cigarettes while flying. The plane was eventually shot down by Mexican troops, but Murphy managed to escape to rebel territory.
Murphy, along with other Mexican rebel troops and pilots, surrendered to US authorities in Nogales, Arizona on April 30 and was charged with "violating the neutrality of the United States." Today, Naco, Arizona, is the only municipality in the continental United States to have been live-bombed by a foreign power.
Murphy's suitcase bombs didn't do quite what he had hoped. One bomb landed in Newton's Garage in Naco, Arizona, destroying a car owned by a Mexican general who had stored it across the border for safekeeping. Another bomb landed in the Phelps Dodge Mercantile Store, causing alarm for Bisbee and Naco residents who had gathered to watch the spectacle.
Despite the lack of casualties on the US side of the border, Murphy's poor aim and drunken antics have become part of Arizona lore, highlighted in songs, local bars, and college classrooms. Murphy served a brief prison term in Nogales, but the incident lives on as a reminder of the rich history of the Cochise County border.