Clark Air Base, Philippines
Origin of current name: Named in honor of Maj Harold M. Clark (1890-1919). A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Maj Clark grew up in the Philippines, was commissioned in the cavalry in 1913, and later transferred to the Aviation Section of the Air Service. He subsequently commanded an aero squadron in Hawaii, setting numerous records as the first military aviator in the islands. Major Clark became executive officer of the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps in Panama, and died when the Curtis HS2LS flying boat he was piloting crashed into the gates of the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal on 2 May 1919.
Date current name was assigned to base: December 3, 1957
Previous Names: Fort Stotsenburg (aka Camp Stotsenburg), 1 Sep 1903; Clark Fld, Sep 1919-20 Dec 1941; AAB Clark Fld, 10 Feb 1945; Clark AFB, 26 Mar 1948. The original Clark Field was only a part of Fort Stotsenburg. After U.S. forces recaptured the area in 1945 the name Clark was applied to the entire Fort Stotsenburg area. This was recognized offically in 1948 when all of that reservation became Clark Air Force Base.
Date Established: September 1, 1903
Date Occupied: September 1, 1903
Construction Began: January 1, 1902
Base Units: 3d Aero Sq (Obs), 2 Dec 1919 (rdsgd 3d Sq, 14 May 1921; 3d Pursuit Sq, 25 Jan 1923); 28th Bomb Sq, 16 Jun 1938; 24th Pursuit Gp, 1 Octóc. 20 Dec 1941. Adv Echelon, Fifth Air Force, AAB Clark Fld, 10 Feb 1945; 29th Air Svc Gp, 16 Feb 1946; 358th Air Svc Gp, 1 Jan 1947; 24th Air Dep Wg, 1 Jul 1949; 6200th AB Wg, 1 Dec 1950; 6200th AB Gp, 1 Feb 1953; 405th AB Gp, 10 Apr 1959 (rdsgd 405th Cmbt Spt Gp, 8 Apr 1963); 6200th Cmbt Spt Gp, 8 Jan 1966; 636th Cmbt Spt Gp, 8 Jul 1966; 6200th AB Wg, 1 Aug 1968; 405th Cmbt Spt Gp, 1 Jan 1972; 3d Cmbt Spt Gp, 16 Sep 1974.
Changes in Capability: Officers' quarters and water system constructed 1910-1911; construction of steel hangars and a dirt air strip 1917-1918; a portion of Ft Stotsenburg officially set aside for the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps and named Clark Fld, 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; Clark and its subordinate airfield at Del Monte were the only fields capable of heavy bomber operations at the outbreak of World War II; Japanese bombers destroyed 36 aircraft and many facilities at Clark on 8 Dec 1941; last aircraft and personnel evacuated to Australia by 31 Dec 1941; during period of Japanese occupation, several auxiliary airfields constructed and used; first "kamikazi" flights operated from Clark and Mabalacat, 1944; elements of the Sixth U.S. Army cleared most Japanese from Ft Stotsenburg-Clark Fld area and flying activity commenced on least damaged runway while the field still drew Japanese fire, 25 Jan 1945; saboteurs and infiltrators sporadically damaged parked aircraft until 10 Feb 1945; general hospital rehabilitated and enlarged late 1945; various operational buildings, quonset huts, and 500 housing units for enlisted men and officers constructed 1948-1949; a new dive-bombing and skip-bombing range completed 1952; extensive repairs and maintenance work, including renovation of numerous older buildings to make them suitable for military housing, undertaken 1953-1959; SEA operations doubled base population to 60,000, making Clark the second most populous USAF installation 1963-1967; 350-bed hospital, which also served as medical center for SEA, completed 1964 (augmented by 180-bed nursing unit in 1970); 100-unit officer housing project completed mid-1967; aviation fuel hydrant system installed 1968; 300-unit duplex housing area completed early 1970; repair of NCO quarters and construction of family quarters completed May-Nov 1970; improvement of operational concrete areas, including 10,500-ft runway to permit C-5 operations, completed July 1970; storage facilities, sewage treatment and disposal plant, water treatment facilities, and a fire station constructed 1971-1973, thus making Clark the U.S. military logistics hub for SEA operations; 250-unit housing project completed late 1980.
Changes in Status: Clark AB was occupied by the Japanese 20 Dec 1941-10 Feb 1945. It was closed in November 1991.
Base was Decommissioned on November 1, 1991
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.
Clark Air Base was originally established as Fort Stotsenburg in Sapang Bato, Angeles City in 1903 under control of the U.S. Army. A portion of Fort Stotsenburg officially set aside for the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps and named Clark Field, September 1919. Clark served as a landing field that was very big for a landing field, for medium bombers and accommodated half of the heavy bombers stationed in the Philippines during the 1930s. In the late summer and fall of 1941, many aircraft were sent to Clark in anticipation of war with Imperial Japan.
The base 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
During the 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 Philippines.
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 due to the refusal by the Philippine Government to renew the lease on the base. After extensive damage from the Mount Pinatubo eruption, the Philippine Government attempted to reopen base lease talks, but terms could not be reached and the lease was not extended.
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.