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After 89 Years, U.S. Lowers Flag at Clark Air Base

November 27, 1991|BOB DROGIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Later, Clark served as a transshipment hub during the Korean War, and it was a major command and logistics center during the Vietnam War. So many Americans were assigned here in that conflict that their children had to attend school in shifts.

While the American-controlled part of the base was reduced in 1979, the 46,000-acre Crow Vally range played a key training role for combat pilots during this year's Persian Gulf War.

Among the military leaders who served here were Douglas MacArthur, his aide Dwight D. Eisenhower, Billy Mitchell and John J. Pershing. Others who passed through included American POWs released by North Vietnam in 1973, 1,565 orphans evacuated as Saigon fell and more than 30,000 Indochinese refugees on their way to America.

Former Philippine strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos and his family fled aboard a U.S. jet from Clark in 1986. Three years later, the Air Force scrambled F-4 Phantom jets over Manila to help put down a coup attempt against his successor, President Corazon Aquino.

Clark Air Base

HISTORY: Clark Air Base opened in 1902 and was once the largest U.S. overseas base. It was heavily damaged when nearby Mt. Pinatubo erupted.

DESCRIPTION: The 130,000-acre base had been home to about 20,000 American service personnel and military dependents. The 13th Air Force, headquartered at Clark, is being transferred to Guam.

FUTURE: The Philippine government may turn the base into an international airport and business center. But the proximity of the active volcano appears to have put those plans on hold.

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