I made the wood map of the Philippines and mounted it on the wall behind my desk. I bought the flags that were crossed under the map. Those flags were carried at the head of the column of Boy Scouts on the 50 mile re-enactment of the Death March.
Those flags were presented to Mr Lapada (one of the Filipino Guards at Capas who had been a POW in the POW camp at Camp O'Donnell during WWII) at the ceremony was at the Cross in the antenna Field marking the mass graves of the American POWs who died in Camp O'Donnell. Mr Lapada presented them to me and they were returned to the wall under the wood map to be part of the Base memorial to the American POWs.
I went on the Boy Scout 50 mile re-enactment of the Death March and shot about 90 rolls of film. I processed and printed all of the film (black & white and color slides) in my darkroom in the bathroom in my quarters at Clark AFB.
For the couple of visits to the base by an Admiral I went around the antenna field the day before and took color slides of any problems. I processed the slides with the E-3 color slide processing kit that night and had them ready for my briefing the next morning. That way the Admiral could spend his time with the equipment, buildings and personnel.
How I came to be Officer in Charge of the
Navy Radio Transmitting Facility, Capas
My move to the position of Officer in Charge of the Navy Transmitting Facility came about because of a shoot out on the Base at Capas. There was a meeting in the Philippine Civilian club on the base including the Commander of the Philippine Constabulary, the Mayor of Capas, some of the civilian staff from the base and a few of the Navy personnel from the base. At some point three members of the HUC insurgency stormed into the club and sprayed automatic fire all over the club (a Quonset hut) killing the Commander of the PC, the Chief Master at Arms from the base and several others, the Mayor of Capas had a bullet in his head but survived and eventually recovered.
In the Philippines at that time it was standard practice to place a legal hold on any member of the United States Services for any excuse. This prevented that person from being transferred out of the Philippines until the case was disposed of. To reach this point a number of bribes were required and it could become terribly expensive for the Service Member. With this a fact of life in the Philippines it was decided to transfer the Officer in Charge out of the Philippines before a legal hold was lodged against him. I was selected as his replacement.
My first test of Diplomatic skills
This tour of duty was challenging in a number of ways but exciting and enjoyable as well. The base was intruded upon by local farmers several times a week. Each time this occurred the OOD (one of the Chiefs) would call me at my quarters at Clark Air Force Base. There was a radio transceiver in the closet in our bedroom closet. I would turn the radio on to establish communications with the base and call the XO at the main base at San Miguel then call the duty desk at the American Embassy. I would be making the rounds of the radio and the phone making reports to the Main Base and the Embassy and directing the reactions at the Base until the event was concluded.
The farmers were after the copper wire buried at the base of antennas as ground planes. They would sell the copper to augment the meager income from their crops of rice. I felt sorry for the farmers but my job was to enforce the security of the base. We had a contingent of the PC stationed on the base and providing "Security". My concern was that sooner or later there would be a local farmer shot dead over the theft of copper wire. It was a real problem for us but stealing copper wire isn't a capital crime. Often the PC were drunk when they took to the Antenna field with automatic weapons.
Shortly after I settled into the job I was paid a courtesy visit by Col. Gatan of the PC. We visited for some time and when he was ready to leave he said, "Oh by the way, while I'm here..." followed by a request that I allow him to purchase liquor from the EM Club. I knew I was not supposed to allow him to do that but told him I would call the Main Base and see if they would allow him to do that. He went to the Exchange to await my answer. When I went to the Exchange to give the negative answer he replied, "I understand, orders from the Chain of Command." and left.
That evening there was personnel vehicle from the PC with a young officer sent to collect the PC security contingent and remove them from the base. The young officer left a message from Col. Gatan to me saying he was sorry but he had orders from up the Chain of Command to remove the Security Unit. I was pleased for the PC Security Unit to be gone. We would handle our own security and there would be no farmers killed for a few yards of copper. Later I would get disturbing information about that little incident. But for the time I was very much satisfied with how it had worked out. There will be more to this event later. It was obvious this was going to be a challenging and interesting tour of duty.
My first venture out on People to People duties
The NTF, Capas was the only Navy facility in central Luzon and hours away from any other bases. That meant that a significant part of my duties was People to People work with the local communities. My first experience with this part of the job was as an invitation to attend a local Vocational School Graduation. I accepted the invitation and Helen and I were driven to the event by a Special Services driver in one of the base sedans. When we got there and left the vehicle the driver told me he was going to turn the car around and would be in the same location. I thought nothing of the comment at that time.
As a local dignitary we were seated on the stage along with others including Maj Chub Anderson, of Air Force Special Forces who had been in the Philippines for about a decade or more. He had two jobs at the Voice of America transmitter station in the vicinity. He also was there to provide Intelligence information on the HUC activities and the PC and local governments.
At the intermission I stood up to stretch my legs and talk with the others on the stage. Maj. Chub Anderson came over to me and began telling me, "There are some PC in the Tavern over there and they are getting rowdy, so and so is seated over there.... etc.". I asked why he was telling me all of this stuff. He replied that when the shooting stared I needed to know that information. Shooting? What shooting? Well, I soon learned that such gatherings were often punctuated by shooting or hand grenades directed at the stage. That was the last time I took Helen to any of such events but I was still obligated to go. I attended many a consecration of concrete pad basket ball courts and other such events. Fortunately there was never any shooting or hand grenades at any events I attended. However I have a collection of newspaper photos of stages and vehicles full of holes. Elections seemed to be decided not by the voters but by who survived the election
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Click on picture to view SLIDE SHOW of the Boy Scout 50 mile march in Bataan on 28th Anniversary of the Death March
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