Monday, October 19, 2020


THE CLARK BOMBING, December 8, 1941

After the attack of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese forces, airstrikes against the U.S. were planned  on its military bases in the Pacific to prevent intervention of the the Far East Force (FEAF). Also, the capture of the Philippines was necessary to control the shipping routes between Japan and Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, which consisted of Japan-occupied countries during World War II. At Takao Naval Air Base, 27 Mitsubishi G4M Type 1 land attack bombers  of the Takao Kokutai took off  on 8 December 1945, at 9:30 a.m. with Clark Field as their target. At 12 noon, Clark Field received warning of the approaching airstrike. Thirty five minutes later, 53 Japanese bombers dropped down bombs on Clark Field, followed by the Zero pilots descending to strafe the field thoroughly. While a few American P-40’s were airborne, they could not provide counter attacks as they were poorly positioned.  Twelve of Clark Field’s seventeen   B-17 planes were destroyed, while 34 P-40s were destroyed on the ground and in aerial combat.

Earlier, 11 B-17s had been flown to safety to Mindanao before the attack, while 2 remained unscathed as they were on reconnaissance missions. The American forces regained Clark Filed on 31 January 1945.


On April 15, 1948, upon the invitation from Maj. Gen. E. L. Eubank, Pres. Manuel A. Roxas, along with Sen. Pres. Jose Avelino, Speaker Eugenio Perez and Gen. Rafael Jalandoni, visited Clark Air Base. His tour was capped by a speech he delivered at the Kelly Theater. He felt faint after his speech, and so he was talen to the residence of Maj. Gen. Eubank to rest. It turned out that his condition was a prelude to a series of heart attacks that led to his death at 9:23 in the evening. The president’s body was brought to Manila the following day on a special train that reeached MalacaƱang at 9:20 a.m.

BOB HOPE’S USO SHOWS IN CLARK AIR BASE, 1966, 1967, 1972, 1987

From 1964 to 1972, the famous stand-up comic Bob Hope entertained U.S. troops in Southeast Asia, in his annual Christmas USO (United Services Organization) shows. The one-man moral booster machine took his shows to Vietnam, Laos, Guam, Thailand. Diego Garcia, Wake Island, and Clark Air Base in the Philippines, which he described as the “Country Club of the Pacific”. In January 1966, Hope arrived in Clark and was welcomed by the base commander Lt. Gen. James Wilson. His show that year featured Phyllis Diller, Chris Noel, Joey Heaherton and regulars Les Brown and his Band of Renown. By Christmas 1967, the number of American military in Vietnam had reached almost 500,000, resulting in massive crowds  and making Hope’s appearances even more important for boosting morale. He was welcomed by gen. Benjamin O. Davis in Clark where his shows featured Raquel Welch , Barbara McNair, Phil Crosby and Miss World, Madeleine Hartog Bell. His last stop in Clark was for his 1987 USO show which was taped for TV entitled “'Bob Hope`s USO Christmas from the Persian Gulf-Around the World in Eight Days”.   Guests included Barbara Eden, Lee Greenwood and Connie Stevens.

POWs HOMECOMING,  February 12, 1973

On the year 1968, Richard M. Nixon was elected as the new U.S. president and he began move to end the conflict in Vietnam. The number of American forces in Southeast Asia was also substantially reduced. His policy was to give continued support to non-communist SEA  countries, while lessening military presence in the areas. One immediate U.S. demand to North Vietnam was for the full release of American POWs and an accurate accounting of  servicemen missing or killed in action. It was in 1972 that an agreement was reached for the repatriation of prisoners, and Clark Air Base as designated as the point of the POWs return from Hanoi.  “Operation Homecoming” thus began on 12 February 1972 when  a C-141A Starlifter transport jet took off from Hanoi and the first flight of 40 U.S. prisoners of wars began their journey home. Arriving at Clark at around 4:15 P.M., the POWs returned to a hero’s welcome, received by Adm. Noel Gayler, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Command; Lt.  Gen. William G. Moore, 13th  Air Force Commander; and Air Force Sr. Master Sgt. Homer E. Henderson, Joint Information Bureau Asst. Non-comm. O-I-C. A second group followed on February 18, until all the 591 POWs were returned home by late March 1973. On 6 April 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.


During the People Power street rallies turned into a nationwide revolution, the desperate Marcos called the office of the U.S. president, and managed to talk to Senator Paul Laxalt. He asked the senator if the State Department’s advice for him to step down was valid, further asking if there was a way for him to share power with Mrs. Cory Aquino, whom he beat by rigging the snap elections. When Sen. Laxalt told him it was time “to cut and cut cleanly”, the embattled Marcos agreed to give up the presidency to avert further violence and possible bloodbath. Marcos was given a safe passage with helicopters from Clark Air Base's 31 ARRS picking him up at his Presidential palace, and flying him to the Clark airport. There, he and his retinue transferred to a C-9A and were flown first to Guam’s Hickam Air Force Base enroute to Hawaii


On the first time that Filipino employees went on strike in Clark was when they stage a walk-out on 3 March 1971. This came a time when ant-American sentiments was at its most high. The strike was ended after 3 days, but only 4 months later, on July 25,  a bigger strike followed that lasted for 25 days. Another strike happened in October 1983, when thousands of Filipino workers went on indefinite strike today over demands for wage increases. Pres. Reign was due to visit that year, but the trip was called off. But the most serious civilian employees strike was stage on 22 March 1986. Thousands of Filipino workers  blockaded the gates of both Clark and Subic on 25 March in a


As early as April, pilot in Clark have reported seeing ominous smoke emanating from Mount Pinatubo, a volcano that has not erupted in 500 years. When it was clar that an eruption was imminent, Clark mounted a massive evacuation  of 15,000 U.S. personnel and their dependents on June 10. The major June 12 eruption dumped tons of ash on Clark.  But another eruption in June 15, exacerbated by passing typhoon Yunya, further cause massive damages, and all but buried the military base in a sea of ash, mud, pyroclastic materials and lahar. About 2,500 servicemen and women stayed on to provide security and try to maintain basic services. Meanwhile, the extension of the Military Bases Agreement was rejected by the Philippine Senate, and was due to expire on September 16. Driven by budgetary realities (it would tae $500 million to rehabilitate Pinatubo-damaged Clark)  and nature's explosive whims, the U.S. did not renegotiate anymore and agreed to leave Clark Air Base in 1992 but keep the sprawling Subic Bay Naval Base for 10 more years. The U.S. Air Force formally transferred entire Clark to the Philippines on 26 November 1991, ending its 100 years in the Philippines. On 24 November 1997, the last U.S. forces left the Philippines.


When the airport was rehabilitated from the damaged US Clark Air Base that was  closed in 199. After two years of cleaning up debris and lava, the Clark Special Economic Zone was opened on the site with the airport at the center. In 1995, the Clark International Airport Corporation was established to manage the airfield facilities. In 1996, limited air service from Clark to Hong Kong began, signaling the first international flight. Renamed Disodado Macapagal Airport by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2003  to honor her father, it reverted back to Clark International Airport in February 2012. Today, Clark hosts 490 flights per week (332 Domestic flights, 158 International flights), with  19 local and 11 international destinations, as of June 2018.


The Philippines hosted the year-long Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 2015. It was held against the backdrop of Chinese intrusion of islands in the South China Sea, contested by several countries, like Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The First Senior Officials' Meeting and Related Meetings were held at the Fontana Leisure Park, Clark Freeport, Angeles City and Subic Bay, Zambales, from 26 January to 7 February 2015. Kapampangan DFA-Undersecretary Laura Quiambao-del Rosario was chair of the summit.