7 Dec 1941 Pearl Harbor Day

22nd BG

7 Dec 1941  Pearl Harbor Day  At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, 360 Japanese warplanes, mostly dive bombers and torpedo planes, attacked the naval base at Pearl Harbor.  The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States into World War II eventually costing over 400,000 American lives.  Much of the Pacific fleet was rendered useless: five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded.  Fortunately, all three Pacific fleet carriers were out at sea.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”  After the speech, Congress quickly approved a resolution to declare war on Japan.  Just a few days later Germany and Italy also declared war on the United States beginning four long years of World War II.

Even before President Roosevelt’s famous speech began, the 22nd Bomb Group headed into the war.  At 0700 on 8 Dec 1941, less than 18 hours after the first bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor, the 22nd Bomb Group, the Red Raiders, took off in B-26 medium bombers from Langley field, VA headed for Muroc, CA to fly shore patrol. My father was a crew chief on one of those B-26s in the 33rd squadron.  From Muroc, they boarded the airplanes and flight crews onto ships and sailed to Oahu.  At Hickam Field, they reassembled the planes and island hopped to Australia.  The 22nd BG was one of the first units to take offensive action against the enemy.  From from bases in northern Australia, they flew bomb missions without fighter escort against Japanese bases and shipping around New Guinea and the surrounding waters.  As the war continued, they island hopped toward Japan while also moving from B-26s to B-25s to B-24s bombers.

Seventy-five years later, some Americans worry that most Americans don’t recognize the importance of Dec. 7, 1941.  “Let me tell you,” a 95-year-old survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack, said “the majority of people today don’t even have the slightest idea what happened there.”  In fact, many Americans can hardly conceptualize the idea of the entire world being at war.  Remember Pearl Harbor!

B-26 Marauder Crew

Marauder Crew

This B-26 Marauder Crew image was captured by a WWII AAF Photographer, who I’ll be featuring on this sight very soon.  He was using a Speed Graphic 4×5 camera.  For the younger photogs among us, that means manual settings, photographic plates, and big camera.

This weekend the 22nd BG is having their reunion; sure wish I could be there.

At 0700 on 8 Dec 1941, less than 18 hours after the first bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor, the 22nd Bomb Group, the Red Raiders, took off in brand new B-26 medium bombers from Langley field, VA headed for Muroc, CA to fly shore patrol. My father was a crew chief on one of those B-26s in the 33rd squadron.  From Muroc, they boarded the airplanes and flight crews onto ships and sailed to Oahu.  At Hickam Field, they reassembled the planes and island hopped to Australia.

The 22nd BG was one of the first units to take offensive action against the enemy.  From from bases in northern Australia, they flew bomb missions without fighter escort against Japanese bases and shipping around New Guinea and the surrounding waters.  The Marauder could actually fly faster than the enemy fighters.  Still. loses were heavy in the early part of the war.  As the war continued, they island hopped toward Japan while also moving from B-26s to B-25s to B-24s bombers.

B-25 Mitchell Bomber

B-25 Mitchell Bomber

The North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber, a twin-engine medium bomber, became standard equipment for the 22nd BG 33rd BS in 1943 during World War II.  Basically, it was a twin-tail, mid-wing land monoplane powered by two 1,700-hp Wright Cyclone engines.  Normal bomb capacity was 5,000 pounds. Some versions carried 75 mm cannon, machine guns and added firepower of 13 .50-caliber guns in the conventional bombardier’s compartment.  Most important, the B-25 was my dad’s favorite airplane.  It took incredible damage and still brought its crew back.

B-26 Marauder

B-26 Marauder

B-26 Marauder:  This image seems to illustrate not only the B-26, the first bomber used by the 22nd Bomb Group, but also, the flight crews as well.  The guy lighting up reminds me of my father who did not start smoking until he went to war.  Today, I am beginning a new project to document the journey my father took through WWII with the 22nd Bomb Group 33rd Squadron.  This image was scanned from a public domain print with the Epson V600 Scanner.  I’ll include a few current images of B-26, B-25, and B-24 aircraft when I can.  Still, most images will be old WWII photos scanned.  Many thanks in advance to the 22nd Bomb Group Association for their help and for allowing me to scan photos from their book.

22nd BG Reunion 2012

On 8 Dec 1941, less than 18 hours after the first bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor, the 22nd BG took off in B-26 medium bombers from Langley field, VA headed for the west coast and, shortly after, to Australia.  My father was a crew chief on one of those B-26s in the 33rd squadron.  They were one of the first units to take offensive action against the enemy.  From from bases in northern Australia, they flew bomb missions without fighter escort against Japanese bases and shipping around New Guinea and the surrounding waters.  As the war continued, they island hooped toward Japan while also moving from B-26s to B-25s to B-24s, heavy bombers. In 2012, the WWII 22nd Bomb Group held their 63rd reunion in Austin, TX.  The veterans along with their families and friends met to see old friends, meet new ones, and share their stories; great stories.  At the reunion, a memorial plaque was dedicated at the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, TX.  It’s a very informative museum with many artifacts like the Norton Bomb Site.   It’s certainly worth a day’s visit. The following images captured a few moments of the reunion filled with great stories of the brave men of the 22nd Bomb Group. (Select image for slideshow…)