History of Clark Air Base

History of Clark Air Base

The history of Clark Air Base, Philippines dates back to the late 19th century when it was settled by Filipino military forces. The United States established a presence at the turn of the century.

The Americans First Come to Angeles

, numbering about 15,000, was just as determined to defend this vital link, and during 1899, fought a series of unsuccessful battles with US forces.

On March 17, 1899, General Aguinaldo moved the seat of his government from Nueva Ecija to the town of Angeles, which lay astride the Manila-Dagupan Railroad, and there celebrated the first anniversary of the Philippine Republic, on June 12, 1899. The Republican government remained hard-pressed by the American advance, and in July, Aguinaldo moved his government again, this time, to the town of Tarlac, further to the north.

The battle for Angeles began on August 13, 1899 and lasted for three days. Opposing the U.S. Army's VIII Corps, commanded by Major General Arthur MacArthur, were Philippine forces under the command of Brigadier General Maximino Hizon, Servillano Aquino, Pio del Pilar, Venancio Concepcion, and Tomas Mascardo. The fighting was fierce and bloody and even though Colonel Alberto San Miguel and a General Makabulos brought fresh reinforcements, the Filipinos finally had to withdraw. They took up positions on the Mabalacat side of the Abacan River and remained there until November 5, when American cavalry flanking movements rendered these positions untenable. After a final day-long bloody engagement on the 5th, Filipino forces withdrew to the north. Meanwhile, American forces already had taken possession of Angeles.

Initially, the American occupation of Angeles was considered temporary, and the troops lived in tents, temporary shelters, or within the town itself. From mid-August until the final action on November 5, 1899, war-time conditions existed because Aguinaldo's rear guard forces held positions just across the Abacan River.

Fort Stotsenburg

:"See Fort Stotsenburg"

Major Harold M. Clark

of Cavalry in 1913. In 1916, he transferred to the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, and in 1917 was rated a Junior Military Aviator.

Clark flew assignments in Columbus, New Mexico; Kelly Field, Texas; and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He went to Hawaii to command an air service station and was the first United States airman to fly in Hawaii. Upon his return to the United States, Clark served at fields in Washington, D.C. and San Diego, California. After completion of a pursuit course, he was appointed as the commanding officer of a pursuit group of the First Provisional Wing at Mineola, New York.

Clark later became an executive officer with the Aviation Section in Panama. Major Clark died on May 2, 1919 in a seaplane crash in the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal Zone and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Beginnings: The 1910s

American air power in the Western Pacific began in March 1912 when Lieutenant Frank Lahm established the Philippine Air School with one aircraft. Five years later, construction of the first five of eight hangars would begin. The final three hangars would be completed by the 3d Aero Squadron in 1919.

The 3d Aero Squadron was Clark Field's first aviation unit. It later became the 3d Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 3d Tactical Fighter Wing and was also stationed at Clark Air Base. With the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, the 3d Tactical Fighter Wing was deactivated and is now the United States Air Force's 3d Wing, the host wing for Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.

Men of the 3d Aero Squadron of the U.S. Army, began the grueling work of building the first runway at Fort Stotsenburg in 1919. This airfield would be named after Major Harold Clark; when completed Clark Field became the only American airdrome west of Hawaii.

became the first U.S. Army airplane to be deployed at Clark Field, arriving in 1919. This DH-4 was flown by Major Roy Brown, Commander of the 3d Aero Squadron, and, as was the custom of the day, bore his personal insignia.

The fledgling U.S. Army Air Corps was forced to use a variety of aircraft from different sources to keep its units up to strength. Around 1920, World War I SPAD S.VIIs of French manufacture were deployed to Clark Field.

Housing on Base

The first airmen at Clark Field constructed their "dormitories" in September 1919. The 20-man tents were put up under a canopy of cogon grass, which cooled the interiors. By 1920, a 200-bed capacity single enlisted quarters with natural air-conditioning provided by large, unscreened windows had replaced the 3d Aero Squadron's original tents.

After the establishment of Clark Field, new family and bachelor officers quarters were needed. In 1920, construction of eight "barns" were completed near what is now the intersection of Dau Avenue and Marrat Highway.

The 1920s

By the mid-1920s, the initial stages of construction at Clark had been completed such as aircraft hangars and support buildings. Also completed by this time are enlisted barracks, a bachelor officers quarters, and eight "barns" along what is now Marratt Highway.

It was in the 1920s that the Martin MB-2 biplane was introduced and subsequently extensively used for Clark Field operations. The U.S. Army Air Service contingent in the Philippines consisted of the 28th Bombardment and 3rd Pursuit Squadrons, forming the 4th Composite Group.

, General Emilio Aguinaldo, whom he had helped capture.

In the 1920s the 2nd Battalion of the 24th Field Artillery Regiment was activated and regularly went to Camp O'Donnell for target practice or to Lingayen, Pangasinan for maneuvers with all U.S. forces based on Luzon. This regiment was composed of Philippine Scouts who were led by officers derived from the Regular Army or from the ranks of Filipino officers who had attended West Point.

The 1930s

Martin B-10s were stationed at Clark Field with the 28th Bombardment Squadron in the late 1930s. When the 28th received new B-17s, three of these very outmoded B-10s were transferred to the Philippine Army Air Corps.

World War II: The 1940s

The Attack

, the location from which everyone felt the Japanese attack would come. Meanwhile, the B-17s at Clark were loaded first with anti-ship ordnance. Later, that order was rescinded and different bombs were uploaded for use against Japanese airfields on Taiwan. Eventually, Brereton got permission to send one B-17 on a reconnaissance mission to the north. When the attack came, maintenance crews were in the process of preparing the one reconnaissance plane, changing the bomb loads in the other B-17s, and refueling the fighters, which had just come in from patrol. The aircrews were eating lunch. They were sitting ducks.

On December 8, 1941, the US Far East Air Force consisted of the 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy) under Colonel Eugene L. Eubank at Clark and the 24th Pursuit Group under Colonel Orrin L. Glover, also at Clark. The 19th had three B-17s assigned and consisted of the 28th and 30th Squadrons (eight B-17s and two B-18s) at Del Monte Field on Mindanao. the 24th Pursuit Group with its outmoded 18 P-35s was at nearby Del Carmen Field, now Basa Air Base. In addition, the 24th Group consisted of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron (18 P-40Es) at Iba and the 17th and 21st Squadrons, with 18 P-40Es each, at Nichols Field, Manila, now Villamor Air Base. The 2nd Observation Squadron also had O-46 and O-52 aircraft at Clark. Philippine Army Air Corps assets were old and few: 42 PT-13 trainers, 12 P-26 fighers, and three B-10s. Within a few hours, despite heroic efforts, almost all of these aircraft, with the exception of the ones deployed to Mindanao, were gone.

Following the Japanese air attacks on Clark Field and other military areas in the Philippines on December 8, 1941, and the subsequent landing of Japanese ground forces on Luzon, General Douglas MacArthur activated War Plan Orange. This plan called for the gradual withdrawal of American and Philippine forces south past several defensive positions (one of which ran through Tarlac, just north of Clark) to the Bataan Peninsula, where they could await reinforcements from Hawaii and the U.S. The defense of Bataan in the face of vastly overwhelming numbers and terrible battle conditions proved beyond a doubt the capabilities of the untested allied forces. At one point during this period in early 1942, Philippine Brigadier General Vicente Lim established his headquarters in a pigpen.

After the collapse of American/Filipino defense lines on Bataan and the decisions to declare Manila an open city to end the defense of Corregidor, American and Filipino prisoners of war were marched at gunpoint back up the Bataan Peninsula to San Fernando, Pampanga, about 0 miles south of Fort Stotsenburg. Here, they were jammed into railroad box cars and taken to Camp O'Donnell, near Capas, Tarlac, about 15 miles north of Fort Stotsenburg. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers died of their wounds on the infamous Bataan Death March or were brutally murdered by Japanese troops (many of whom were actually from the Japanese colony of Korea) when they could not keep up with the pace. Following their initial incarceration at Camp O'Donnell, most American POWs were moved to Cabanatuan, while their Filipino comrades remained at Camp O'Donnell.

Some of the American prisoners who were interred at Camp O'Donnell were sent to Fort Stotsenburg and were forced to perform menial labor for their Japanese conquerors. These prisoners were considered the lucky ones as the others who remained in O'Donnell or Cabanatuan were moved aboard freighters to Japanese slave labor camps in the home islands. The Japanese refused to mark these vessels with the appropriate insignia, and many of them fell victim to American submarines, whose crews had no idea that the enemy ships they sent to the bottom carried fellow Americans aboard.(See also Hell ships).

Boyd D. "Buzz" Wagner

, when the Japanese attacked Clark Field, and became one of the first American pilots to engage the enemy in the air. Later in the month, he became the first American World War II ace when he downed his fifth Japanese aircraft.

While flying a reconnaissance mission out of Clark, Captain Wagner was jumped by two Japanese Zeroes over Northern Luzon. As a trained aeronautical engineer, he knew a great deal about the performance characteristics of the P-40, and used this knowledge to good advantage.

With the Zeroes in pursuit, Captain Wagner suddenly throttled back, letting the surprised enemy fly over his head. Then he poured machine gun bullets into their tails, Turning back, the young Captain strafed a Japanese airfield leaving five of the 12 aircraft on the runway in flames.

[http://www.whoa.org/ Wagner High School] and [http://www.whoa.org Wagner Middle School] were named for Captain Wagner, who offered Americans a rare "bright" spot in the otherwise bleak news they were receiving about the defense of the Philippines.

Meyer S. Levin

In 1955, for the first time at Clark, a building was named for an enlisted man: the Meyer Levin Gymnasium on Dau Avenue, just east of the Parade Ground.

Meyer Levin's father was a poor immigrant tailor who moved his family from Rochester, New York to Brooklyn in 1929. Meyer dreamed of becoming an aviator, but his way was blocked by his family's financial situation during the Great Depression. Instead, Meyer went to the Bedford YMCA night school and after graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Becoming a bombardier, Levin flew with Captain Colin Kelly during the days immediately after the December 8 Japanese attack on Clark Field, and miraculously escaped death in the ill-fated flight that claimed Captain Kelly's life. His heroic actions continued to earn him medals and recognition, and by early 1943, he had been promoted to Master Sergeant. Meyer Levin's last mission took place on January 7, 1943. Assigned with AAC forces in Australia, he volunteered for a bombing mission against an approaching Japanese convoy. The bomber crew soon located the convoy, but decided to wait for additional aircraft to arrive before initiating the attack. As the big aircraft continued to follow the ships, the weather became worse and fuel ran low. Eventually, the crew made the hard decision to ditch the bomber in the water. As the word passed, each man adjusted his parachute and bailed out. Not Meyer Levin: he remained aboard the plane and according to survivors' reports, prepared and dropped the life raft that saved their lives. Master Sergeant Levin did not survive the crash. M/Sgt Meyer Levin of the 64th Bomber Squadron/43rd Bomb Group {Heavy} is listed on the tablets of the missing at Manila National Cemetery. Awards are Distinguished Flying Cross (United States); Silver Star with 2 oak leaf clusters; Purple Heart.

Lily Hill

The origin of this name probably derives from the word for "lost" ("lili") in the Kapampangan language. The name appeared first on an 1898 map and is appropriate, because the hill does stand apart from other mountains and hills in the area. From 1903 to 1942, the American forces used Lily Hill primarily as an observation point and the Japanese followed suit when they occupied Clark. During the American attack on Clark, tunnels were dug beneath its surface and it was from this point that the Japanese made their final defense. After World War II, the USAF established it first aircraft warning and control unit which remained on its summit, until relocated to Wallace Air Station at Poro Point on the Lingayen Gulf coast in December 1962. In 1955, the underbrush on Lily Hill was burned back, revealing the remains of two Japanese aircraft and many smaller artifacts attesting to Japan's strong defense of Clark.

Birthplace of the "Kamikaze"

on MacArthur Highway, along Clark's eastern perimeter. During the war, the American liberators thought that these suicide planes were flying from Northern Luzon, but in their postwar interrogations, Japanese airmen insisted that the attacks had originated at Clark Field. This fact subsequently was confirmed: two "Kamikaze" pilots had flown circuitous routes to avoid U.S. fighter patrols, and thus had left the impression that the attacks came from Northern Luzon.

During the course of the American re-invasion of the Philippines, the Japanese conducted extensive counter air operations from Clark Field. Japanese "Kamikaze" pilots also operated from an airstrip just north of Clark, near Mabalacat, Pampanga, against allied shipping. During the liberation of the Philippines, Americans extensively bombed Clark, thus, for the second time in only a few years, the base came under heavy attack.

Post-war investigations revealed that from the beginning of Allied air attacks on Clark, Nichols, and Nielson fields in October 1944 until February 1945, 1,505 Japanese aircraft were put out of action on the ground. At Clark, the heavy bomber attacks had caused the Japanese to disperse repair shops, storage areas, and maintenance units, scattering them as far as Bamban. Sometimes, parts were hidden or even buried, often becoming inaccessible later. One captured Japanese aircraft needed only one of the carburetors buried at Mabalacat to be ready for flight. In fact, when Allied troops captured Mabalacat, they found over 200 aircraft engines, some of which had never been uncrated.

201st Fighter Squadron, Fuerza Aérea Expedicionária Mexicana

During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Corps undertook the training of several contingents of personnel from many South American nations. Brazil provided the largest of these contingents, with Mexico in second place. The P-47 Thunderbolt-equipped 201st Figher Squadron of the Fuerza Aérea Expedicionária Mexicana arrived in the Philippines in early 1945 and participated in the Luzon Campaign, as well as in subsequent operations against Okinawa and the Japanese islands.

Sneak Attacks and Japanese Land Defense of Clark

air attack on Clark Field and MacArthur's decision to fall back on Bataan, American forces abandoned Fort Stotsenburg. Thus, except for the airdrome itself, the base was spared the ravages of war. When the American counterattack on Stotsenburg began in late 1944, the Japanese made the decision to defend the base at all costs. From beginning to end, the defense lasted more than a month, and even after the base itself had been captured, hold out Japanese troops remained in the foothills of the Zambales Mountains and had to be flushed out one by one. Damage to base facilities was extensive.

The Task of Reconstruction: The Late-1940s and the 1950s

Post World War II, Clark Field saw a building boom, with barracks, operations, and storage buildings being constructed at a breakneck pace. Constructed during this period were "liberation barracks", which housed enlisted men, a base operations building, a post office building, an outdoor movie theater, the NCO Open Mess, and the Clark AB golf course, once one of the finest golf courses on any U.S. military installation in the world, and the renovation of the Officers' Restaurant and the Clark Air Base Officers' Open Mess (CABOOM). Religious facilities would also be constructed.

office, were the nurses' quarters. During the Japanese occupation, the old hospital was used both as a dispensary and barracks. Soldiers heated water for bathing in the big steel drums directly in front of the building. Doctors and their families occupied the barns that clustered around the hospital. With the adoption of the 1979 amended Military Bases Agreement and the establishment of Philippine sovereignty over Clark AB, Base Headquarters was moved to the Clark Air Base Compound Building at the intersection of Bong and Dyess Highways. In 1986, workers began demolishing the Pentagon to make for a new Combat Support Group Headquarters Building.

At the end of World War II, Clark Field, like so many other American bases in the Western Pacific, became a dumping ground for battle-damaged equipment. Clark was a major dumping ground for P-38 "Lightnings", the mainstay of the Allied air forces in the Pacific. After being stripped of all usable material, these aircraft were simply pushed into giant pits and covered with dirt. Such "boneyards" exist at several locations on Clark and occasionally, new construction efforts result in the rediscovery of one or more of these almost completely decomposed aircraft and equipment.Although the Sixth Army's 37th Infantry Division declared that Clark Field and Fort Stotsenburg had been "liberated" on January 31, 1945, remnants of Japanese forces hiding in the Zambales foothills west of the field could still do some damage.

From the Army to the Air Force

was organized at Clark.

In the early 1950s a larger, more modern facility located along O'Leary Avenue, near its intersection with Dyess Highway, was constructed to house the Clark Base Exchange. This structure last housed the Philippine Area Exchange Arcade, a conglomeration of conessionaire businesses.

The Silver Wing Recreation Center, constructed in 1949, provides a host of activities for assigned personnel and their dependents, including tours, musical instruction, chess, card, and billiard tournaments. The base telegraph office also occupied space in this large building.

Named for Lieutenant Colin P. Kelly, a B-17 pilot who was killed in action against the Japanese during the air defense of the Philippines, this theater opened in 1953. It served as one of the two auditoria/theaters on Clark, with the other being the Bobbitt theater near the Main Base Exchange. Kelly Theater was located just off Dau Avenue, adjacent to the Kelly Cafeteria.

The Airmen's Open mess was established in Building 5721 on Bong Highway in 1954. Initially known as the "Lower 4 Club" (referring to the rank), this facility later received the name "Coconut Grove".

This large stadium, which is to the southwest of the "main base", was completed in 1955. The bowl originally was named Sebille Stadium in honor of Major Louis J. Sebille, a Medal of Honor recipient, who was killed in action in Korea on August 5, 1950. Since the designation was never made official, the facility was later renamed. While it has played host to numerous sporting and entertainment events, the Bamboo Bowl's "shining hour" came in the spring of 1975, when it and its grounds served as the site for the massive tent city that supported Operations "New Life" and "Babylift." In 1986, to honor the memory of the seven astronauts who perished aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, the stadium was renamed "Challenger Field."

Clark Cemetery

in Manila. At the same time, the USAF closed the two old cemeteries at Clark and relocated the bodies to the much larger Main Gate location.

The new Clark Air Base cemetery, located on Mitchell Highway near the Main Gate, opened in 1950 and as of July 1983, contained a total of 7,559 remains. Among the first bodies to be relocated were dead from the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War. At present, the cemetery contains the remains of members from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, American civilians and their dependents, Filipinos (especially former members of the Philippine Scouts), Japanese civilians (not associated with World War II), Chinese and Vietnamese refugees. Of the total cemetery population, 1,689 remain unidentified to this day. More recent pictures of the Clark Cemetery can be found [http://chrislagman.com/blog/2006/08/20/picture-taking-at-clark-cemetery/ here] .

By the terms of the 1979 Military Bases Agreement revision, the U.S. agreed to display its flag only in front of the Facility Commander's Headquarters on the Parade Ground. In early 1984, Major General Burns succeeded in having this provision amended to allow the American flag to fly at this cemetery location as well. The flag-raising ceremony took place on March 12, 1984.

When the former Clark Air Force Base was returned to Philippine government control, an agreement was reached between the US government and the Philippine government that the latter would maintain the cemetery. Since the agreement was made in 1972, little attention has been given the cemetery. The US Department of State, the American Battle Monuments Commission, the US Ambassador to the Philippines, and the Department of Veterans Affairs say: The cemetery is the property of the Philippine government which agreed to care for the cemetery when Clark Air Force Base was transferred and the US government is unable to provide funding for the upkeep of the cemetery.

Since Clark Development Corporation (CDC) took over control of the cemetery, no care was provided the cemetery by the Philippine Air Force/CDC from 1991 to June 1994. In November 1994, VFW Post 2485 signed an MOA with CDC giving the VFW permission to maintain the Clark Cemetery and open it for the burials of US veterans, including Philippine Scouts. VFW Post 2485 has recently signed a long-term MOA that expires in 2031. The upkeep and maintenance of a cemetery this size is a monumental task and has proven difficult with current donations. Additional information on the cemetery may be found [http://www.vfwpost2485.com/cemetery.htm at the VFW cemetery page] .


In 1960, the USAF began construction of a new modern Regional Medical Facility at Clark. The new 200-bed Clark AB Hospital/Regional Medical Center was completed in April 1964 at a cost of $4.5 million. The new hospital occupied the same site (off Dyess Highway near its intersection with O'Leary Avenue) that had been in use for this purpose for some time. The original Fort Stotsenburg hospital had been located at the east end of the Parade Ground, on the site now occupied by the Headquarters Building for the 3d Combat Support Group.

As the U.S. became more deeply involved in the war in Southeast Asia, Clark's role as a supporting base became more important and more people were assigned than could be housed in existing permanent quarters. Even new dormitories proved insufficient to meet the influx and so "temporary" housing once again came to Clark.

Prior to the construction of this facility in 1966, transient officers were billeted in quonset huts in the library area and Bachelor Officers Quarters were located in the Hill area. Chambers Hall, which was named for Captain Samuel "Bud" P. Chambers III, who was killed in action while making an approach to Tan Son Nhut, Vietnam, on June 29, 1965, is located on Bong Highway, just to the west of the Base Library and to the north of the Parade Ground. It contains 30 apartments for bachelor officers and 294 rooms for transients. As large as this facility is, during Thirteenth Air Force operations, such as its periodic Cope Thunder training exercises, many transients have to be billeted in contracted hotels off-base.

The nerve center for Clark's flying operations was the Base Operations Building. This was opened in 1968 and replaced an earlier structure located in the same area.

Meanwhile, the 3d Tactical Fighter Wing (which had previously been at Bien Hoa Air Base, Vietnam) moved to Clark Air Base on September 16, 1974 and became the base's host unit, replacing the 405th Tactical Fighter Wing. The 3d Tactical Fighter Wing had inherited the lineage and honors of the 3d Bomb Group, formed in July 1919, when that unit was inactivated. One of its squadrons, the 3d Tactical Fighter Squadron, was the first to be assigned to Clark during the interwar years as the 3d Aero Squadron and later the 3d Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor). The 3d Pursuit participated in the vain attempt to defend against the Japanese air attacks of December 8, 1941, accounting for almost all of the enemy aircraft downed by American fighter planes during that engagement.


Following several late-night violent attacks against American personnel by Filipino citizens during the late summer of 1968, the Base Commander, Colonel Ernest P. Pate established a curfew. The city government of Angeles City retaliated by declaring the entire city off-limits to U.S. personnel, and the situation deteriorated from there. The events culminated in a series of demonstrations against the base by Filipino nationals, with the major outburst occurring on October 4, 1968. Fortunately, this confrontation marked the high-tide of feelings on both sides and relations quickly returned to normal.

Vietnam War and Its Aftermath

Operation Homecoming

Shortly after his election as U.S. President in 1968, Richard M. Nixon began the long process of negotiating an end to the conflict in Southeast Asia. At the same time, the number of American forces in SEA was gradually reduced in favor of what came to be known as "Vietnamization" of that conflict. Under this policy, the U.S. continued to provide diplomatic, financial, and logistical support to Southeast Asian non-communist governments, but to lessen correspondingly the active roles of its own armed forces in those nations. One of the most pressing U.S. demands was for a full North Vietnamese release of American POWs and an accurate accounting of U.S. servicemen missing or killed in action. Late in 1972, a basic North Vietnamese/American agreement was reached and planning for the repatriation of U.S. POWs initiated. As the major staging base for the American involvement in SEA, it was only natural that U.S. officials designated Clark Air Base as the initial point to which the POWs could return from Hanoi.

The first group of returnees from Vietnam arrived at Clark at approximately 1615 hours, February 12, 1973. On hand to greet them at planeside were Admiral Noel Gayler, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Command; Lieutenant General William G. Moore, Thirteenth Air Force Commander; and Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Homer E. Henderson, Joint Information Bureau Assistant Non-commissioned Officer-in-Charge.

On April 6, 1975, the Clark Air Base Peace Garden was dedicated to the memory of those who died or were declared "missing in action" in Southeast Asia.

Operation Babylift/New Life


Clark Becomes a Philippine Base

. To commemorate this event, the Philippine government constructed an arch based upon the design of a typical native "Salakot" hat. This structure was erected just in front of the Main Gate on Mitchell Highway, between the base proper and Angeles City and soon became a widely recognized symbol of this new spirit in the long tradition of Philippine-American relations.

One of the most significant developments in Philippine-American relations was the promulgation of the revised 1979 MBA that, for the first time on over 75 years, established Philippine sovereignty over former U.S. Bases in the country. To facilitate its management of base areas outside of those specifically designated as part of the U.S. facility and to supervise perimeter and gate security, the AFP established Clark Air Base Command (CABCOM) on February 16, 1979, and assigned Brigadier General Oscar M. Alejandro as its first Deputy Commander. (Under Philippine regulations, the AFP Chief of Staff served as CABCOM Commander.) By the end of 1983, CABCOM had over 700 personnel assigned, serving in administrative and security posts.

In the Midst of a Revolution: The 1980s

Live Television Broadcasts from the Mainland

The last day of 1983 saw the beginning of a new era at Clark Air Base with the transmission of live television broadcasts from the United States through the Satellite Earth Terminal. With the "SATNET", Far East Network-Philippines was able to bring timely information, news and entertainment programs to the Clark area.

The February 1986 Revolution

On February 24, Philippine Air Force aircraft from the rebel 15th Strike Wing requested permission to land. Their original intent had been to land, refuel and rearm, but the U.S. policy of strict neutrality forbade this. Instead, Washington allowed any aircraft declaring an "emergency" to land for "humanitarian" reasons. By the time the revolution ended, Clark had become "safe haven" for a large segment of the PAF: six T-28s, five T-33s, seven F-8s, two F-47s, two C-130s, one MD-500, and two Twin Otters. The presence of these aircraft caused another problem: suppose loyalist forces realized they were present and tried to destroy them from the air or in a ground attack? Fortunately, no such threat materialized but at any rate, USAF forces at Kadena Air Base and United States Navy aircraft were ready to support Clark if it became necessary.

and Clark, as well as Washington. Later in the afternoon of the 25th, the decision was made to evacuate Marcos from the palace. Helicopters from Clark's 31st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron flew to Manila, picked up the Presidential party, and returned to the base, arriving just after 9 p.m.

The ex-President, his wife and immediate family, along with General Ver, occupied 13AF Distinguished Visitor quarters, while the rest of the entourage had to be billeted in Chambers Hall. Along with the Marcos party, Clark AB personnel packaged up and sent out a considerable amount of "personal effects", the same ones that later were seized by U.S. Customs officials in Hawaii and which became the subject of so much media controversy.

After spending the night on-base, the group, now swelled by several family members of sides and associates who had arrived during the night, boarded a C-9A Nightingale and a C-141 Starlifter and flew to Guam and then Hawaii, where President Marcos went into exile.

New Construction

For many years, the base had languished in the backwaters of PACAF's military construction program, but that ended in the early 1980s, and since that time, the base witnessed the opening of several new facilities.

One of the first of these new facilities, a modern Youth Center, first opened its doors on March 29, 1984. The old Youth Center, which had been housed in the original Kelly Theater, became a skating rink. This new Youth Center building houses a number of features designed to appeal to the younger members of Clark's community: an airconditioned basketball court, large screen television, disco, pool and ping-pong tables, video games, and a snack bar.

A new Base Commissary was opened in April 1984. Initially begun in 1980, this facility, which contained state-of-the-art equipment and marketing concepts, cost a total of $6.2 million and at the time of its commissioning, was the largest in the world. The new Commissary was located on Dyess Highway, almost next door to the old one and adjacent to the old NCO club.

One of the most long-awaited and most beautiful examples of Clark's new construction boom was the Golf Club House, which was officially opened in August 1985. This modern building offers the facilities one expects to find in a club house, as well as a pro shop, a restaurant, and a beautiful panoramic view of the course.

The site of this new building was once part of the old Fort Stotsenburg cemetery, and during the digging for its foundation, several old iron crosses were uncovered. Time and the elements combined to reduce most of these to rust, but one was still in remarkably good condition and has been preserved for display in the Clark Historical Center.


Clark Air Base was completely evacuated of all but security personnel on June 10, 1991, two days before Mount Pinatubo began the summer-long series of eruptions which destroyed the upper 1000 feet of its peak.

The Philippine Senate rejected an extension of the Military Bases Agreement that September, and the base was transferred to the Philippine government on November 26, 1991, after the United States decided to depart earlier than scheduled.

External links

* [http://zcap.freeyellow.com/pix3.htm Clark Air Base Scrapbook]
* [http://www.clarkab.org/history/index.htm Clark Air Base]
* [http://www.wikimapia.org/#lat=15.167278&lon=120.574463&z=18&l=0&m=a&v=2]

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