Wednesday, December 19, 2007

12 May 1945

I received orders for a change of station, so once again I was on the move. Nolan, Rafferty and I flew to Finschhafen in the squadron B-25 and reported to HQ. There we learned that Nolan was to go to Los Negros in the Admiralties and Raff and I were slated for Clark Field near Manila.

We left Finsch[hafen] the morning of the 13th at about 1030 and arrived at Biak Island off the NE coast of Dutch New Guinea at 1523. We flew in a C-46 and the trip was uneventful. Slept most of the way. We were able to keep our places on the plane and planned to leave that night, but the air freight boys took so long in loading a cargo of belly tanks* we stayed overnight at the casual camp and left at 6 AM. About 7 that night we had a yellow air alert, but the all clear sounded without incident. In the morning a 3 hour flight landed us at Morotai, southern tip of the Philippines. Here we gassed up and in 3 more hours came into Zamboanga on Mindanao. Another 5 hours brought us to Nielson Field at Manila. After having quite a time finding accommodations we were put up at the Detachment AACS. They were living in a house that was owned by the late President Quezon’s** bodyguard. Before the war it must have been a beautiful place. Stucco, Spanish style, walled in patio, swimming pool, etc. The house escaped bombing, but there is no water system or power in Manila, and there are no furnishings other than GI. The boys pay rent, have a Filipino house boy and live quite a life. We wanted to stay over a day and see Manila, but we were told we had better continue on to Clark.

From what we did see of the city—we flew over most of it—it must have been a beautiful city. The remains of fine hotels, churches, and public buildings could be seen everywhere. The Japs certainly ruined it when they evacuated it. The civilians are living in squalor in anything they could construct from the materials salvaged. Naturally dirty—quite similar to Mexicans—they are now at their worst. It will take about 10 years to rebuild Manila to peacetime levels.

We finally sweated out a ride in a C-47 and made the trip to Clark in 23 minutes. There are 4 strips here now operating and it is a busy place. Spread out over a valley there is a conglomeration of Bomb Groups, fighters, troop carriers, ATC, service groups, a little bit of everything.

We were put in the casual area at the HQ 141st AACS and spent a rather damp night as it poured cats and dogs. We are here for reassignment which will probably mean a few days of details, etc.

* Auxiliary fuel tanks attached to the bottom of military aircraft.

** President Manuel Quezon died the previous year. He fled to exile in the United States when the Japanese invaded the Philippines.

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