Clark Field (Clark Air Base) is located in Pampanga Province on Luzon in the Philippines. Located to the west of Dau, along Highway No. 3 (MacArthur Highway) and the Manila-San Fernando-Dagupan rail road line. Angeles is to the southeast, and Mabalacat to the northeast. The area is flat, and visible to the east is Mount Arayat.
In 1899, Major General MacArthur (father of Douglas MacArthur)
established his headquarters at the Pamintuan residence, near what
would become Clark Field. This area became the cradle of pre-war
American Army bases and airfields, that were pivotal during the
Japanese attacks and invasion of the Philippines in December 1941,
and the American liberation in 1945. Site of the first American
and Filipino's first defensive line, after the Japanese attack
on Luzon, before falling back to Bataan.
In 1917 outside Fort Stosenberg, construction began on a half-mile
long dirt runway, hangars and other support facilities to bring
the local army units into the air age. Construction was completed
in 1919, improvements continued until 1941.
Prewar, there was a rail road spur that branched off the main rail road from Manila to Dagupan, that went into Clark Field via Camp Dau to provide transport services from Dau and Mabalacat into Fort Stotsenberg and Clark Field.
Clark Field became the Army Air Corps headquarters overseas. The only
American air base west of Hawaii, it became the largest American
overseas airbase in the world, and largest American base in the
Naming of the New Air Base
The new aerodrome was named Clark Field, in
honor of Major Harold M. Clark, who was born in Minnesota
and reared in Manila. A pioneering Army aviator killed
in a seaplane accident in Panama on May 2, 1919 and buried
at Arlington Cemetery.
Expansion of the Base
Over the decades until 1941 it was expanded
until it composed of 12 airfields: Clark 1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, Clark North, Clark East. Other runways in the
surrounding area including five strips at Angeles also two
at Mabalacat and
one to the north at Bambam. Clark based based fighter Pursuit Group (PG) and Bombardment Groups (BG) of bombers.
Clark Field (Runway No. 1)
Single runway located within the Clark Field complex, this first runway built at Clark Field, and the main runway until the start of the war. In 1942, this was a sealed all weather runway. Liberated by the 37th Infantry Division, 145 Infantry Regiment that advanced from Bamban to Mabalacat across Runway No. 1 on January 31, 1945.
Tony Feredo adds:
"The [present day] main runways now are approximately close to the original runway in 1941 and the new ones in 1944. In fact you can still make out the emergency runway up to now in the photo and its used as a Tarmac. In the 1930s it was mostly grass and the only asphalt area was the tarmac. So planes took off in the direction of the wind."
The new runway is still
in use by commercial flights and others are operated
by private companies or businesses established inside
the base. There are hopes to turn the former base into
a joint South East Asian multi national military training
Clark Field (Runway No. 2)
Single runway located to the south, and parallel to No. 1 runway. Runway No. 4 is located to the south. Liberated by the 37th Infantry Division, 129th Infantry Regiment which advanced along the strip from January 28-31st.
Clark Field (Runway No. 3)
Single runway located to the north-east of Fort Stotsenberg Liberated by the 37th Infantry Division, 129th Infantry Regiment which advanced along the strip from January 28-31st.
Clark Field (Runway No. 4)
Single runway located to the south, and parallel to No. 1 and No. 2 runways.
Clark Field (Runway No. 5)
Smaller single runway, located to the south-east of Runway No. 4.
Clark Field (Runway No. 6, Clark North)
Smaller single runway, located to the west, and parallel to Runway No. 3, to the north of Fort Stotsenberg. Located near Lilly Hill.
American units based at Clark
Field (Defense of the Philippines 1941)
Prewar to December 1941
Defense of the Philippines
On December 8, 1941 Japanese fighters and bombers
from Taiwan attack Clark Filed and destroyed
many aircraft on the ground. The following day
B-17s from Clark Field flew to attack Japanese ships
landing troops in Lingayen Gulf.
On December 12, 1941 Japanese aircraft attack Clark Field. During late December 1941 to early January 1942, American
and Filipino forces withdrew from Clark Field to the Bataan Peninsula.
During January 1942, occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army, Clark Field was repaired and used during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Used by both Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) fighters, bombers and transport aircraft.
Japanese units based at Clark Field (Japanese Occupation)
1942 to January 1945
On December 25, 1944 the first American aircraft began attacks against Japanese
occupied Clark Field. During the next two months, the base was the target fighter sweeps and bombing raids.
missions against Clark Field
December 24, 1944 - February 14, 1945
P-38L Lightning 44-24846
Pilot Koeck MIA December 25, 1944
During early 1945, a mixed force of 30,000 Japanese Army and Navy troops dubbed the "Kembu Group" defended the Clark Field area. The Army were under the command of Lt. General Rikchi Tisukada and the Navy troops were under the command of Rear Admiral Ushie Sugemoto.
The force included the Japanese Army, 2nd Tank Division's Iwashita Independent Tank Company with eight Improved Type 97 'Chi-Ha') commanded by Captain Iwashita and the Sumi Independent SP Gun Company (2 x Type 4 150mm SPH) commanded by Captain Sumi fought together with the main body of the 2nd Mobile Infantry Regiment commanded by Lt. Col Koshin Takayama, dug trenches, caves and interconnecting gun pits. Other forces were commanded by Eguchi. These forces were reinforced by two airfield construction battalions armed as infantry, anti-tank battalion and 75mm gun battery, making a total of 2,800 defenders. Overall command went to General Tsukada (commander 1st Airborne Raiding Group), who withdrew his troops into the surrounding hills.
Battle for Clark Field
On January 24, 1945 two U. S. Army Infantry Divisions approached Clark Field. The 40th Division advanced along the hills to the north of Clark Field while the 37th Division advanced from Bambam to Mabalacat, Dau and Angeles across the Clark Field.
The battle for Clark Field lasted a week spanning January 24-31, 1945. During the battle, Japanese lost all their tanks and heavy weapons. The surviving defenders retreated into the Zambales Mountains and continued to resist until February 20, 1945. Afterwards, the 40th Infantry
Division guarded the Clark Field area and conducted mopping up operations, while other units continued to advance
southward towards Manila.
Japanese aircraft captured at Clark Field
Many wrecked airplanes
existed at the airfield and were studied by ATIU (Air Technical
Intelligence Unit) that based itself at Clark to repair and test them. Forty five Ki-45 Nicks were captured at Clark, also a Ki-67 Peggy, eight Ki-44 Tojo, Ki-43 Oscar and others.
The base was quickly repaired for use by
the Americans and code-named Borax. Used extensively until the end of the war. Designated APO 74.
units based at Clark Field (Liberation 1945)
February 26, 1945
- September 1945
End of the War Aircraft Dumping
By the end of the war in August 1945, Clark had become a major base. Countless fighter and bomber aircraft, both war wear and brand new were disposed at Clark. Usually, a bulldozer would break the back of the aircraft, then it would be bulldozed into open pits to be buried. Others, were simply taxied to the end of the base and driven or pushed into holes.
Two major dump areas were filled with abandoned aircraft. The first contained many Japanese aircraft wrecks, evaluated by TAIU, then deemed useless at the end of hostiles and American fighters, bombers and transports. The second, much larger was primarily American fighters and medium bombers.
In the 1960s the first of these dump areas was excavated by a Taiwanies contractor, working for the US military, to remove unexploded ordinance and scrap metal as they liked. Reported, they removed many fully intact aircraft wrecks from their excavation area. Witness of this scrapping?
Over the second dump area, a power plant was built. Many wishful salvager have tried to negotiate with the Filipino Government and Papanga Province to gain permission to excavate this location, after the power plant went off line in the 1990s. To date, no salvager has succeeded in raising the capital required to pay the high land fees demanded, and dismantling the factory required to begin digging.
Renamed Clark Air Base, it was the headquarters of the 13th Air Force.
One of the conditions of Philippine Independence was the retention
of US military bases including Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Field.
Both were combined under the name "Clark Air Base". Used
by the USAF until 1991.
David Basler adds:
"I was stationed at Clark from 1981 to 1984. I search for and render safe, unexploded ordnance. During my tour at Clark, the 3rd EMS hosted a family, Wing picnic near the horse stables adjacent to the Munitions Storage Area (MSA), headed towards Mabalacat Gate. Where they had the dependents seated, a large concrete pad rested with picnic tables. It was a Saturday, 1982. The day after, for no apparent reason, this little hill exploded. After thorough research was conducted, it was determined that the Armed Forces in WWII, both American and Japanese, had utilized this area as a dumping ground for unexploded and otherwise useless explosives. The Base E.O.D. unit carefully excavated and inserted a camera and determined that it was quite deep, with all types of UXO's. One could simply pull the sod away on the surface and discover small arms ammunition. During my stay at Clark, we embarked on many excursions. Armed with maps and metal detectors. We discovered wrecked tanks, aircraft, gun emplacements, tunnels, store houses, weapons and even occupation currency. Some friends of mine and myself have been in Lily Hill."
The Philippine government created the Clark
Economic Zone to encourage development of the former base. Today, the base is open to the public, and some businesses occupy the Hanger Row and other buildings.
Clark Cemetery (Clark Field Cemetery)
on the main road inside the base complex, this 20 acre
cemetery contains 12,000 graves. Established in 1950,
buried are non-WWII remains, dependents and relatives
who died in the Clark area or from other cemeteries around
the Philippines. The graves date back to 1900. It
is the last active USAF cemetery outside the United States.
Also buried here are Filipino Scouts and Constabulary
and citizens of other nations.
rows of eight hangers, original hangers built from 1917
- 1919. The original dirt runway ran behind the hangers,
where Palm Street is located today. They were bombed
by the Japanese, then used by the Japanese when they
occupied the base. Again bomb by American
forces prior to liberation, and repaired and again used by Americans
until the base was returned to the Philippines. Today three
Memorial Statues & Plaques
A pair of busts and memorial plaques are located
outside the hangers. There are two memorials located hear, behind the original hangers. The road to the side of the memorials was the location of Clark's original runway. The first is a memorial plaque dedicated to Captain
Colin P. Kelly (who took off in a B-17C against Japanese forces landing at Vigan. He was KIA on the mission and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross).
The other is dedicated to Col. Boyd "Buzz" D. Wagner (Commander
17th Pursuit Squadron awarded Distinguished Service Cross
for shooting down two Zeros over Aparri and strafed five
others at Vigan, later became America's first ace of World War II).
Located in the center of the Clark Field, this hill offers a commanding view of the airfield
complex area. During the Japanese occupation, this hill
was excavated to allow for storage tunnels to be built
into its sides for the storage of munitions and fuel,
making them nearly impervious to any air attack.
During the defense of Clark by the Japanese, they dug in troops on the forward slopes, and positioned guns to deny use of the airstrips. As American
liberation forces reached Clark Field area, Lily Hill
was the backbone of the Japanese defense in the area.
The final battle to liberate Clark was the neutralization
of Lily Hill where Army and Navy troops of the 'Kempu
Group' delayed the American advance for a week in the
area, until January 23.
the American liberation, remaining tunnel entrances were
sealed shut by demolishing the entrances to each tunnel. Today, the area is a housing area. At the summit today there
is a water tower is located at the top of the hill
and the sides are heavily overgrown with vegetation.
Goddess of Peace Shrine
along the road up to the summit of Lily Hill. Erected
in 1998, this shrine symbolizes peace and goodwill
among nations. The shrine includes a large statue and
black memorial plaque in Japanese and English.
on the base across from the Parade Ground. This
museum houses relics related to the airfield complex
and its history, spanning from traditional Filipino culture with displays spanning the American era of development
into an airbase, World War II and post war
US Army built base, located
on the later Clark Field Complex. This military
outpost's history dates back to 1902 when troops of the US
Army 5th Cavalry camp in Central Luzon. The outpost was later
named "Camp Stotsenburg", in honor of Col. John M.
Stotsenberg who was killed in action at age 41, leading his
regiment near Quinque, Luzon on April 23, 1899, and was buried
Liberated by the 37th Infantry Division, 129th Infantry Regiment which advanced along Clark's Runway No. 2 to Fort Stotsenberg liberating it on January 31st, the proceeding to 'Top of the World' hill directly to the west.
Parade Ground (Stotsenberg Park)
As Clark Field expanded in the decades prior to the war, the area of the Fort was incorporated into the base, the parade ground and buildings are the former Fort Stotsenberg.
These posts stood at the Dau gate entrance to Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Field since the early 1900s until the Japanese occupation in 1942. The Japanese dug them up and used both for landfill. After the war, they were found intact and in 1965 and placed at the American Legion Post, and later moved to the side of the parade ground in 1984. A number of smaller memorials are located near the gateposts, including: 13th AF memorial plaque, Stotsenberg Park Sign, Tagalog Memorial and Cavalry Memorial.
26th Cavalry Memorial
Located at the western edge of the Parade Ground (Stotsenberg Park). The memorial reads: "To the memory of the gallant dead 26th Cavalry Philippine Scouts, United States Army, Commemorating Their Heroic Actions Lingayen, Luzon, Bataan 1941 - 1942."
Originally built in 1913 as a theater. Post war
was home to 6200th Tactical Fighter Training Group. Today,
it is an office building. Then & Now Photos
Build as a bowling alley in 1906, it became the post
office in 1912, and HQ for the 13th Air Force after
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
September 24, 2018