Clark Air Base is a former
United States Air Force base
Island in the Philippines, located 3 miles west of Angeles City, about 40 miles northwest of Metro Manila.
Clark Air Base, 1975.
Clark Air Base was an American military
facility from 1903 to 1991. The base covered 14.3 square miles (37
kmÂ²) with a military reservation extending north that covered
another 230 square miles (596 kmÂ²).
The base was a stronghold of American forces during the end of
World War II
, and until 1975, it was a
backbone of logistical support during the Vietnam War
. Following the departure of American forces in
1991, the base eventually became the site of Diosdado
Macapagal International Airport and the Clark
Base was originally established as Fort
Stotsenburg in Sapang Bato, Angeles City in 1903 under control of the U.S. Army
- For full details, see History of Clark Air
- For information on Clark after its
closure, see Clark Freeport Zone
and Diosdado Macapagal International
portion of Fort Stotsenburg officially set aside for the Aviation
Section of the Signal Corps and named Clark Field, Sep 1919. Clark
served as a landing field for medium bombers and accommodated half
of the heavy bombers stationed in the Philippines during the 1930s.
late summer and fall of 1941, many aircraft were sent to Clark in
anticipation of war with Imperial Japan.
was overrun by Japanese forces in
early January 1942.
The base then became a major centre for
staging Japanese air operations. Japanese aircraft flying out of Clark
participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, considered to be the largest naval battle of the
Second World War.
war, the Allied prisoners of the Bataan Death March passed by the main
gate of Clark Air Base, as the soldiers followed the direction of
the railway tracks north, towards Camp O'Donnell.
Clark Air Base was recaptured by Americans
in January 1945, after three months of fierce fighting in the
Clark grew into a major American air base during the Cold War
, serving as an important logistics hub
during the Vietnam War
. The base was later
closed following extensive damage from the Mount Pinatubo eruption.
In November 1991, the United States Air Force lowered the Stars and
Stripes and transferred Clark Air Base to the Philippine
government. With the United States military's withdrawal from
Clark, the base was systematically looted and was left abandoned
for several years. It finally became the Clark Freeport Zone and
the site of Clark International Airport (CIA), renamed to Diosdado
Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in 2003.
- See the article List of military units
of Clark Air Base.
During much of the Cold War, Clark Air Base's activity largely
revolved around the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing and its fleet of
F-4 Phantom II
fighter jets. It also
hosted an interceptor squadron and a flight school, all of which
flew a variety of other combat aircraft. Transient aircraft of many
types, especially cargo jets, were very common. Fighter planes
regularly visited to participate in aerial warfare exercises at
about 30 miles (50 km) to
served regularly by cargo and passenger flights to and from
AFB, Guam; Kadena
AB, Japan; Diego Garcia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Saigon, Vietnam (until
1975). During the 1970s, passengers arrived via
Douglas DC-8 flights from Travis AFB, California (via Honolulu and Guam).
1980, the base had grown to such an extent that weekly Flying Tigers Boeing
service to St. Louis (via Kadena AB Japan; Anchorage; and
Los Angeles) had begun. The 747 service was taken over by Tower Air
sometime in the late 1980s, and was
augmented with a weekly Hawaiian
or Douglas DC-8
Clark Air Base was arguably the most urbanized military facility in
history, and was the largest American base overseas. At its peak
around 1990, it had a permanent population of 15,000. It had a base
exchange, a large commissary, a small shopping arcade, a branch
department store, cafeterias, teen centers, a hotel, miniature
golf, riding stables, and other concessions.
Angeles City bars were legendary, particularly around the red-light
district on Fields Street. As a result, Clark's servicemen's clubs
were under considerable pressure to serve its members with
wholesome entertainment. All three were large-scale operations: the
Officer's Club (CABOOM) near the parade ground, the Top Hat Club
for NCOs near Lily Hill (moved to near the Silver Wing around
1986), and the Coconut Grove Airmen's Club with indoor palm trees.
The NCO Club was a very extensive operation and operated an upscale
dining room, an in-house thrift shop, and a calendar of daily
activities. It regularly brought major bands and artists from the
United States to perform.
At least a hundred sponsored clubs and organizations were active on
the base, including Knights of
, a Latino American club, martial arts
dojos, and more. Two major movie
theaters operated daily: the Bobbitt Theater which played first-run
films, and the Kelly Theater which showed older releases. By 1988
the Kelly no longer showed films at all but was used for Commander's Calls
and large squadron sized
meetings. In the late 1960s and early 1970s movies were also shown
at the Bamboo Bowl (the football stadium on base).
The Bamboo Bowl, later renamed Challenger Field, was largely used
for high school football games as the school did not have its own
athletic field. It was also used for the base's 11 man tackle
football league which not only included teams from Clark but from
Subic Naval Base as well.
To keep the residents entertained at home, Clark had a very active
broadcast center called FEN, or Far East Network Philippines, a
division of American Forces
. A television station broadcast on Channel 8 until
1981, then Channel 17 afterward. It showed about 20 hours per day
of syndicated programs from the "big three" networks in the United
States, with local news and talk programs. This content was
locally syndicated until 1983 when it began airing live programming
by satellite from Los
FEN had two 24-hour radio stations: an AM
station which broadcast news and popular music, and stereo FM which
was dedicated to easy-listening and classical music. G.I.s could
also receive local Filipino T.V. which aired newer American shows
than F.E.N. did. Unlike the local T.V. stations in Europe
they were broadcast in the same format as
American T.V. and not dubbed into Tagalog
Two major annual events at Clark were the annual Chili Cookoff,
held near the Silver Wing recreation center around September, and
the Happening On the Green ("the HOG"). The HOG was a major
carnival held on a designated weekend in February which attracted
thousands of residents. Amusements and rides were built and
operated not only by Filipino entertainment contractors but also by
individual Air Force units seeking to boost unit morale, showcase
their talents, and raise funds.
Clark's unique size and history allowed it to develop its own
supernatural lore. By the 1970s, the Filipino "white lady" legend
had established itself at Clark. Most variations of the story
involved a young woman dressed in white who would hail a taxi late
at night, and then would vanish from the vehicle enroute. And more
recently, the tv series Ghost Hunters International have done an
investigation at the hospital. A lot of paranormal activities were
reported, so the team came and confirmed that the hospital has its
share of paranormal activities.
of Defense Dependents Schools
(DoDDS) operated six schools in
Clark, serving children from kindergarten to twelfth grade.
- Elementary schools (kindergarten-5th grade):
MacArthur Elementary School, V. I. Grissom Elementary School, and
Wurtsmith Elementary School. The latter two were located in the
hill housing area.
- Middle schools (6th-8th grade): Lily Hill
Middle School, and Wagner Middle School. The latter primarily
served the hill housing area and officer dependents.
- High school: Wagner High School, otherwise
known as Wurtsmith Memorial High School in the 1960s and Clark
Dependent School in the 1950s.
Additionally, Clark was also home to several community colleges,
namely the Pacific Far East Campus of Central Texas College
. Classes were
typically held in the evenings at Wagner High School.
Clark Air Base experienced two distinct seasons: a dry season from
November through April, with a wet season from May through October.
From 1953 to 1991, the mean daily low was 73.6Â°F and the mean daily
high was 88.1Â°F, with April being warmest and January coolest. The
average annual rainfall was 78.39 inches. Typhoons tended to
approach from the east during the summer and fall. Many damaging
storms struck the base, including Typhoon Irma on November 28
considered to be the strongest one); Typhoon Rita on October 27
Irma on November 24
; Typhoon Ruby on October
; and Typhoon Yunya on June 15
with the Mount Pinatubo blast. In July, 1972, central Luzon
experienced a month of nearly continuous rain, resulting in 96
inches falling on the plain around Clark.
Other United States Air Force installations in the
- Fletcher, Harry R. (1989) Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air
Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September
1982. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN
- Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF
Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation
History. ISBN 0887405134.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II.
Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage
and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air
Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
- Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations
Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN
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