Sunday morning, December 7th, was a quiet and peaceful Sunday at Langley Field. Most of the ships were parked in hangars and the hangars themselves were quiet. A few "ready" crews were loitering about, laughing and joking. When the startling news came over the radio that afternoon, everybody already not on the Field reported back without waiting to be notified. Squadron Commanders returned from conferences and the hangars began to become filled with men working feverishly. Throughout the night guns and bomb
bay tanks were installed, pilots checked their ships for the cross-country flight, and finally the ships were converted from peace-time planes to combat ships. Pilots and crews phoned hurried farewells to wives, sweethearts, and families. Cars were left parked where they were; the keys were mailed back later. The 22nd Bombardment Group, first on the list of medium bombardment groups ready for combat, took off in the dawn dusk of December 8th headed for the West Coast and the South-West Pacific. This one fact all personnel of the 22nd can always be proud of-that the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor reached the, scattered members of the Group over the radio in mid-afternoon of a Sunday and yet sixteen hours later 44 planes, ready for combat, took off to strike at the Japanese.
On 15th December 1941 the ground echelons of the Group reached the dry Muroc "Lake" in the Mojave Desert of California. The full realization of just what war meant in terms of living conditions alone was starkly impressed upon the men who just a few days ago were living in modern housing settlements and brick barracks. Muroc Lake, some twenty odd miles in diameter, had been used (up to the time of Pearl Harbor) as a practice bombing and gunnery range. One day its full complement of both officers and men numbered only about eighty-six; the next day several thousand troops were pouring in.
It was mid-winter. The ground echelon detrained at Muroc to find no tents, no bedding, no blankets, and even no food. Rations had to be hauled by truck from March Field, some eighty miles away, and the supply could not keep up with the demand. Rationing had already begun for the 22nd Bombardment Group. \When it rained in the morning or at noon the dry lake soon became an immense mud-hole. Steam rose from the ground at midday. The men started fires and shared what food they had with one another. Night came and the biting chill of the desert night set in. To keep from freezing, the men kept the fires blazing all night, put on all spare uniforms and spare socks, and either huddled around the fires chattering and joking all night or else stretched out on the ground. At dawn, the faces of those who were sleeping around the fires offered striking contrasts. The side of the faces