The next morning Dorothy drove me to the Army and Navy Club where I was to meet the truck. Then came our first parting. Dorothy was trying not to cry, and I, with a lump in my throat and trying to keep my voice from quivering, was trying to cheer her up. That was a sad, blue ride to Clark. It was raining and I swallowed hard, wondering if I would ever get back to Manila. Every barrio we passed through on the road we met crowds of Filipinos, and they would all hold up two fingers and shout “V for victory”. Nearly all the men were carrying clubs or large bolos and had on medals designating them as Volunteer guards. The Japs will really have a fight on their handsif they try to take these people. They all seemed to be eager and ready to fight. I still think that if the Army could have or would have put up a longer and better fight as the Japs came down the Valley from the north, the civilians would have played a large part in harrassing and maybe holding the Japs. That is to come later though and maybe someday I will find out just how the civilian population did act when the Japs came. The Army certainly didn’t set a good example for them, so you couldn’t expect them to do much.
Just before we got to Clark Field the Japs made a bombing raid on it but dropped their bombs from such a low altitude that many of them failed to go off. When we got there the place was rocked every few minutes by duds being exploded by demolition crews. I saw Clark Field for the first time since I had left it the first day of the war. What a change I saw! Clark was just a mass of pitted and charred ruins. I think it was the most desolate sight that I have ever seen. Lady Luck must have been with me when I decided to try that second and successful attempt to take-off the first day of the war. If I had stayed at Clark Field ten minutes longer, I would have been caught in the raid.
All the personnel from Clark Field had moved back into the mountains to escape further raids. We went there, too. The pilots were all back together now, but what was the plan for the future? No one seemed to have any idea. The camp was back in an old volcano crater and very well concealed. Everything seemed quiet. I spent the next week there doing nothing. A reconnaissance plane was sent out each day over the northern part of the island, but no further enemy activity as to landings was reported. Lt. Walt Cass from the 17th went out on one of these and failed to return. We all gave him up for lost.
Lts. Wagner and Church went on one mission to Vigan to dive bomb and strafe the Japs on the airport there. Lt. Wagner had made a similar raid on Aparri a few days before and had destroyed a number of enemy planes, so we all had high hopes for this second mission. On this raid Church was hit by antiaircraft fire on the dive toward the field and his plane began to burn. Instead of jumping, he went on over the field, dropped his bombs, and crashed. Both the Japanese and Americans paid tribute to his brave act, and it was reported later that the Japanese buried him with high military honors.
Clark Field was bombed daily during that week, but no further damage was done. Since the Officers Club at Fort Stotsenberg was still open and was near our camp, most of the officers spent a part of the day there. One day I was there getting a haircut when the bombers flew over.The barber took off for cover, and there I was for about the next two hours with half a haircut looking for the barber so that I could get him to finish the job. Long after the bombers had gone, he came crawling out of a sewer manhole and finished my haircut.
Rumors ran riot at the camp. First we heard that new troops and planes had come in and that more were on the way. According to reliable reports, planes were being assembled in Manila and were flying off Dewey Boulevard. This seemed a bit fantastic, but we believed it because we just knew that we should have reinforcements by this time. Also, during this week one of our bombers picked up a number of our pursuit pilots and took them south to Australia. The story was that they going down to lead flights of new planes up to the Philippines, and we believed that, too. They didn’t come back, and they still haven’t come back. This war has been one of waiting for reinforcements that just don’t come. At first we worried about it, but now I don’t think we even expect them and would probably be a surprised bunch if we did get some.
A few days after my arrival at Clark Lt. Shepherd, one of the 17th pilots who had been missing since the second day of the war, came into camp. He had seen a flight of bombers going north, had chased them to the northern part of the island and finally caught them. After shooting one down, he had been show down by the others and had bailed out in the mountains. He had spent over a week walking out to civilization and when we saw him, about all that was left of him was his bushy growth of flaming red hair.
While I was at Clark Field, more fifth column activity was brought to light. From the first day of the war the Japanese seemed to know more about our army and our operations than we did ourselves. Every night we could see signal flares going up, and it wasn’t the Japanese that were sending them. It was Filipinos. Most of this work was done by some ignorant Filipino worker who probably got a few pesos for being a traitor. This could easily be understood because he had always lived in poverty and would always live in poverty. A few pesos was probably worth more than life itself to him. The fifth column activity of some of the rich, high-class Filipinos was what was hard to understand, and their activities did the most damage. In one case, a radio that was giving the Japs information about our activity around Clark Field was trailed to the house of a well-to-do doctor in a village within sight of the field itself. There were several cases such as this, and all of these fifth columnists had everything to lose and nothing to gain by such activity.