clark field (Clark Air Base) is located in Pampanga Province on Luzon in the Philippines. Located to the west of Dau bordering 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 the Bataan Peninsula.
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.
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 National Cemetery. Clark Field became the Army Air Corps headquarters overseas. As only
American air base west of Hawaii, it became the largest American
overseas airbase in the world, and largest American base in the
Over the decades, Clark Field was expanded
and facilities improved. By 1941 it comprised of a dozen runways including: in the Clark Field area: Runway No. 1 Runway No. 2, Runway No. 3, Runway No. 4, Runway No. 5 and Runway No. 6, Clark North and Clark East. Other satellite runways in the
surrounding area including five runways at Angeles, two
at Mabalacat and
one to the north at Bambam. Clark based based fighter Pursuit Group (PG) and Bombardment Groups (BG) of bombers.
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 next day,
B-17s from Clark Field flew to attack Japanese ships
landing troops in Lingayen Gulf. On December 12, 1941 Japanese aircraft again hit Clark Field.
December 8, 1941–December 12, 1941
Starting in late December 1941, American
and Filipino forces began withdrawing from Clark Field to the Bataan Peninsula. By January 1942, the Clark Field area was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army, Clark Field was repaired.
During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Clark Field was used by both the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as a military airfield for fighters, bombers and transport aircraft.
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.
December 24, 1944 – February 14, 1945
Pilot Koeck MIA December 25, 1944
During early 1945, a Japanese force dubbed the “Kembu Group” of roughly 30,000 Imperoal Japanese Army and Imperoal Japanese Navy (IJN) soldiers and personnel defended the Clark Field area. The Army force was under the command of Lt. General Rikchi Tisukada and the Navy force was under the command of Rear Admiral Ushie Sugemoto. Other forces were commanded by Eguchi. Two airfield construction battalions with 2,800 personnel that served as infantry, anti-tank battalion plus a 75mm gun battery. Overall command went to General Tsukada (commander 1st Airborne Raiding Group), who withdrew his troops into the surrounding hills. The rest of the force dug trenches used caves and made interconnecting gun pits as defenses in the Clark Field area.
For armor, attched was the Japanese Army, 2nd Tank Division Iwashita Independent Tank Company with eight Type 97 Chi-Ha Shinhoto medium tanks commanded by Captain Iwashita. Artillery support was only the Sumi Independent Self Propelled (SP) Gun Company with two Type 4 Ho-Ro 15cm Self-Propelled Guns commanded by Captain Sumi provided armor and heavy weapons support for the main body of the 2nd Mobile Infantry Regiment commanded by Lt. Col Koshin Takayama.
Battle for Clark Field
On January 24, 1945 two U.S. Army Infantry Divisions approached Clark Field. During the Battle for Clark Field, the 40th Division advanced along the hills to the north while the 37th Division advanced from Bambam to Mabalacat, Dau and Angeles across to the Clark Field. During the battle, the 129th Infantry Regiment advanced along Runway No. 2 to Fort Stotsenberg and liberated the Clark Field area. The survivors retreated into the Zambales Mountains while others continued to resist in isolated pockets.
By January 31, 1945 the Japanese were defeated and lost lost all their tank and heavy weapons. The survivors retreated into the Zambales Mountains while others continued to resist. Immediately, the 129th Infantry Regiment proceeded the hill dubbed “Top of the World” hill directly to the west. Afterwards, the 40th Infantry
Division was tasked with guarding the Clark Field area and conducted mopping up operations while the advance continued southward towards Manila. The last Japanese defenders in the vicinity were eliminated by February 20, 1945.
After the battle, Clark Field was quickly repaired by the U.S. Army and put into use. Code named Borax. Clark Field remained in use until the end of the Pacific War. Designated Army Post Office 74 (APO 74). Used by U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) Far East Air Force (FEAF) fighters, bombers and transport. Also used by U.S. Navy (USN) aircraft to a lesser extent.
February 26, 1945
When Clark Field was liberated, many Japanese aircraft were captured in both intact and wrecked condition. Air Technical
Intelligence Unit (ATIU) moved to Clark Field and collected the planes to an area to study, repair and test fly some of the planes. At Clark Field a large number of planes were captured including forty-five Ki-45 Nicks, eight Ki-44 Tojos and many other fighters, bombers and transports.
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.”
Still in use today as Clark International Airport or Clark Airport using the two new runways. The first runway is oriented 20L/02R measures 10,499′ x 197′ surfaced with concrete. The second runway is oriented 20R/02L measures 10,499′ x 148′ surfaced with concrete. Airport codes: ICAO: RPLC IATA: CRK. Much of the Clark Air Base area has been redeveloped for commercial usage that hopes to turn the former base into
a joint South East Asian multi national military training
base. 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 Field (Runway No. 1)
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.”
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 28-31, 1945.
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 28-31, 1945.
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.
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
Clark Cemetery (Clark Field Cemetery)
Two 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 remain.Located 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.
By the end of the Pacific War, countless fighter and bomber aircraft, both war wear and brand new were abandoned in the area and disposed. Usually, a bulldozer would break the back of the aircraft, then bulldoze the pieces into open pits to be buried with soil. Others, taxied or pushed into the holes intact.
Two major dump areas were filled with aircraft. The first dump dump contained many Japanese aircraft wrecks that had been captured and evaluated by TAIU, then deemed useless at the end of hostiles plus U.S. fighters, bombers and transports. The second dump put was much larger was primarily U.S. fighters and medium bombers.
In the 1960s the first of dump area was excavated by a Taiwanese contractor hired by the U.S. military to remove unexploded ordinance (UXO) plus any scrap metal they wished. 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 or Pampanga Province to gain permission to excavate this location when the power plant ceased operating 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.
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).
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” that delayed the American advance for a week in the
area, until neutralized by January 23, 1945.
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
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
FindAGrave – Harold M. Clark (photo, grave photo)
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February 16, 2021
CLARK : Lost Treasures in the Pacific (Tour of former Clark Air Base, Philippines)
In 1991, the United States abandoned their largest overseas military base on the island of Luzon, Philippines. For nearly a century, Clark Air Base played pivotal roles in World War II, Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands of American and Filipino military personnel served to ensure Clark stood as an influential stronghold in the Pacific. Today, much of Clark’s past and historical significance has been largely forgotten and replaced by modern infrastructure projects and rapid growth in Pampanga, Philippines. Join me as we explore the lost treasures of Clark Air Base, including repurposed 100yearold military office buildings and abandoned structures. I’ll also guide you through Clark’s extraordinary stories of life, loss, war, natural disasters, and evolving political landscapes.
For further information about Clark and its incredible history, please check out the following sites:
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