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"Anything You Say Sir!"
Colonel William Truesdell
Part 2

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"Anything You Say Sir!"
Colonel William Truesdell
Chapter V


The Angeles City - Clark Air Base Community Council is probably the only truly unique committee established between the local populace and the base itself. It meets once a month, alternating between a restaurant in downtown Angeles, and the Officers' Club at Clark.

Angeles City depends on Clark Air Base as its major source of income and most citizens are acutely aware of the fact that close cooperation between the base and the city is necessary to keep the business establishments in operation. The relationship between Angeles City and Clark has varied from outright hostility to close cooperation over the years of the existence of the base.

Some commanders had concluded that they could put pressure on Angeles City by putting the city off limits if things didn't go right. This is a ridiculous position for a commander to take; there are too many ways to get off the sprawling air base, and it is virtually impossible to police the fence post.

The main subjects discussed at the Clark - Angeles City Council involve base - community relations. During the entire time I was commander, the principal subjects were venereal disease and rabies. Given a choice, I suppose I would rather have VD, since it can be cured with massive doses of penicillin and once a person is infected with rabies, it is always fatal. Besides, catching rabies is no fun at all.

The Council is made up of the city council and the Vice Mayor of the city, who is also the presiding officer over the municipal board. The Clark Air Base side is chaired by the Base Commander, with membership made up of the legal officer, the civil engineer, chief of security police, the chief of civic actions, and the base information officer. As guests or advisors we generally had the city health officer, the city engineer, and usually two doctors from Clark Air Base Hospital.

Some of the conversation during the Base Community Council meetings was interesting indeed. I recall one meeting where a long discussion of the rabies problem was addressed. The main concern on the part of the Philippine side was whether or not rabies inoculations would affect the flesh of the vaccinated dogs. During the discussion it was brought out that dog meat is considered a delicacy in Pampanga and the Council members were concerned that this vaccination would ruin the taste of the dog meat. There is a slaughter house in Angeles which butchers dogs and the meat is considered to be one of the better culinary delights of the Angelenos. Whether or not I ate any dog meat is open to question because many of the dishes served at luncheons were unidentifiable.

Discussions regarding the Social Hygiene Clinic were always interesting because of the serious manner in which we talked about the charm of the city. We organized a series of lectures for bar owners and hostesses with the hope that the girls would become aware of the complications that would result from untreated VD. The City Health Officer was afraid that there would be some reaction from injectable penicillin but didn't have any qualms about giving oral penicillin to the girls. The fact that the anti-phylactic reaction would show up from oral as well as injectable penicillin, didn't seem to be of great concern possibly because the pills are easy to sell.

This committee was the basis for the establishment of the Social Hygiene Clinic and has reduced the rate of VD at Clark Air Base, although a few active, careless men and women can run the rate as high as Mt. Arayat. The bar owners were supposed to pay the inspection fees and bear the cost of treatment of those who failed the test. Cooperation was best achieved by threats of placing sources of VD off limits. The program had some success.

Nearly every meeting brought up the subject of robberies, particularly just prior to Christmas. I had to admit that burglaries and robberies are an economical way to procure Christmas presents.

At one meeting I even threatened to tranquilize carabao that had been wandering around the base, paint them international orange and release them in downtown Angeles. The threat was rather hollow, because we had no way to transport a 2800 pound unconscious carabao.

Chapter VI


Early in 1972 a member of my staff brought a copy of a newspaper to my office. It was entitled "Cry Out" and was published in Angeles by a group of military dissenters led by some civilians who had come to the area as tourists. They were a sort of quasi-legal bunch who operated from a place called the G. I. Center. Their impact on the base was practically nil and I wouldn't have given it much thought except for the articles which identified me. They called me "Billy True" and even dedicated an ode to me pointing out what a rotten son-of-a-bitch I am. Everyone likes attention regardless of the nature of the type of recognition and I am no exception. Since it was an underground newspaper it was hard for me to get enough copies to send to my friends back home. They only published four issues of progressively poor quality and distribution was hampered by the security police. It was ridiculously easy to identify the G. I. Center members and even easier to find out the authors of the anti-everybody articles. After each person had been identified, I simply had a meeting of their squadron commanders who subsequently gave each one an opportunity to exit the Air Force. The beauty of this type of individual who participates in attempts to pull down his organization is that he always advertises his objectives. I don't know whether they do it intentionally or not but it certainly is evident. There was so little support for the G. I. Center that it collapsed through lack of funds and lack of interest on the part of the average airman. I can't say I was unhappy about the demise of the "Cry Out" paper but it did give people a conversational topic for a while. Also it proved my point that the Base Commander gets credit for a lot of things he doesn't do.

Dissenters do have a common trait; the more eligible they become for combat service, the more vocal their protests become. At this point I wish to print the "Ode to Billy True." It will never make the "Top Ten", but it does give some indication of the mental processes of the poet.

Dedicated to Base Commander, Col. Billy True (Sung to the tune "Oh Suzanna!")

I am the base commander, I know you all know me I'm out to put a stop to change 'cause change I just can't see

I liked it in the fifties, when men did as they were told When the American hero was John Wayne, and you were seven years old.

Oh, Col. Billy Why did you act this way Our movement keeps on growing Each and every day

Oh, why did you have to grow up - thinking as you do, The fifties were all right for me so why don't they suit you Why do you try to fight me - the people know I'm right You must be the commie pinko freaks we read of every night.

I've tried to rid the Air Force of every last one of you Still your numbers keep on climbing-what's this world coming to You want to be like civilians, but that can never be Once we lose a hold on your mind, then you'll be almost free.

Just stick it out for four years, the days will all fly by; Your place is just to listen, so please don't ask us why. And then you'll get your discharge, your parents will shout with joy 'cause he stayed in and put up with shit... My, what a good little boy!

I'm sure the reason most anti-type movements fail is because those who turn to this sort of thing are losers to start with. They are unable or unwilling to compete in the straight world and must have a way of voicing their frustration.

Chapter VII


A month before I began negotiations with labor unions, the biggest rainfall in the history of the Philippines occurred in the area around Clark. The water supply for Clark Air Base comes from two sources, neither of which is the sky over the base. About a third of the total water volume came from deep wells and the remainder was pumped from an inlet point on the Secobia River just outside the fenced area of the base.

With three times the normal rainfall in July, and particularly in the mountainous areas north of the field where 209 inches of rain fell in 30 days, the flooding that took place destroyed the water inlets and silted the river to the point where the river bed was raised 16 feet. I spent most of my time for two weeks trying to help save our water production capability, with no success whatever. At one point we poured 150 cubic yards of concrete near the pumping station, trying to save the 14-inch water lines. Within 12 hours after this valiant effort, we watched the entire pumping station disappear under silt at the bottom of the river.

A little barrio -- or village -- on the south side of the air base simply washed away. The villagers had built houses on the river bed to get as close to the base as possible, and I saw 80 houses fall into the river and disappear in one afternoon. The barrio captain solved his housing problem by picking up the perimeter fence for about 500 yards and moving it on to the base. I received a call from the Commanding General, telling me to "Get those people off the base!" I said, "How do you propose I do it -- with a bulldozer or a machine gun?" There were about 200 Filipinos armed with machetes at the gate and all I had at the site was a guard dog and two scared security policemen. In view of the relative strength of the two groups, I decided that their relocation plan was not too bad. They did move away after the flood was over when the Philippine Constabulary (national police) made them an offer they couldn't afford to refuse.

Clark was the operations center for a big flood relief program run by the Philippine government. We bagged up several thousand tons of rice and biscuits, which were delivered to the entire province by helicopters since all the roads were impassable. Nutribuns were baked on base with materials provided by the Agency for International Development. One helicopter pilot had a delightful experience while making a "bun run" over one area called Cut-Cut. After he delivered the relief supplies, while flying back to Clark, he caught eight rounds of AK-47 fire which knocked out one engine and clipped off the microphone cord next to his face. His compassion toward the relief victims was slightly less than the Women's Welfare Association, who cried a lot about the plight of the Filipinos.

I received several communications during this time, one of which accused me of blowing up dams and causing the whole flood. I knew the position of the Base Commander was elevated in the eyes of some local nationals, but it was the first time I had ever been accused of an act of God.

When the water finally subsided, and the need for relief no longer existed, the United States appropriated $50 million for flood relief. I am not too sure where the money went, but I suspect that some portion of it probably went to the villagers. As the focal point for all relief activity in Luzon, we provided space for a command post for the national disaster control center and the people of Clark Air Base got together to provide assistance. Several organizations tried to go their separate ways and finally, at my insistence, the chaplain got into the act. All religious denominations participated. They purchased foodstuffs and clothes and other items of support and made distribution through religious activities in the area around Clark. We believed the churches probably could best identify the truly needy. I am sure that the people who were helped showed their gratitude toward the Americans for a long time after the flood. There were quite a few Americans who took families into their houses and provided assistance far beyond their own economic capability. We get accused of many things, but whenever somebody is in real need, the Americans always come through.

Chapter VIII


One of the peculiarities of assignment in the Philippines is the threat of international hold. Since the differences between Philippine law and U. S. law are so great, the wildest kind of rumor is believed by most people when they first arrive at Clark Air Base. The Philippine law is a combination of United States statute and European legal procedure.

Some of the charges which are classified as criminal offenses in the Philippines are often minor civil charges in the United States. Three charges commonly used to attempt to intimidate Americans are "oral defamation," "scandal and alarm," and "unjust vexation." Since it is a common practice on the part of many Americans to let the Filipinos do their (American's) jobs for about a dollar a day. I had seriously thought about charging my entire staff in the Philippine court with "unjust vexation."

Because of an agreement between the United States government and the government of the Philippines, people charged with offenses are automatically placed in a hold status, which simply means that they cannot leave the Philippines until the case is resolved. In our courts, this would mean an individual would stay until the case came to trial, but here the judge hears as much or as little of each case as meets his fancy. He may hear small portions of the same case for as long as two years before he promulgates his decision. We have had as many as 150 people on international hold at one time for charges varying from "estafa," which means "you owe me for the repair of your TV set," to abduction with consent, which nobody has been able to figure out, except the international law staff.

An interesting aspect of Philippine law involves not paying a hostitute the agreed price. By some peculiarity, this is defined as "rape." There may have been some false charges on the part of the Filipinos where the American accused was absolutely innocent. None of these cases have ever come to my attention, however, because some offense was probably committed, though not necessarily the one charged.

I remember one case where an Air Force captain borrowed his friend's apartment in Angeles, including the maid. At the end of a 30 day meaningful relationship, the maid announced to the Captain that his bill was $500.00 for services rendered. Having been educated in the finer points of integrity, he refused, as the Filipinos say, "to assume his responsibilities." The girl promptly got a certificate from a Filipino physician certifying that she had lost her virginity, which was probably the easiest diagnosis the physician ever made. She also got a policeman to attest to the dastardly deed and charged the honorable, dedicated young officer with forcible rape. When he came to my office, filled with righteous indignation, he asked my advice. My advice was very simple -- pay her the $500.00. His hurt over my lack of sympathy was enough to bring tears to your eyes. I only pointed out that although the Air Force was quite willing to provide him with legal counsel, it would be difficult for any member of my staff to support his contention that he had been wronged. He has been on international hold for two years.

Another facet of international hold I thought was interesting was the collusive cases where some young fellow was in love and wanted to stay on in the Philippines. He simply signed a paper which said he was somewhere and got the person to file charges against him. This automatically puts him on international hold. He can't leave the Philippines, but he didn't want to anyway.

During my tour, there were 21 people who had been at Clark past their normal date of return from overseas. One had managed to stick around for four years.

Chapter IX


The Angeles City Bar Owners' Association is a loosely knit group of people who own bars and night clubs around Clark Air Base. Until you have seen a Philippine bar, any description is not adequate. They vary in size from a little counter about six feet long in an 8 by 10 foot room, to the proportions of a large cocktail lounge in the average American city. There are a few difficulties which hamper the operation of these bars, most of which involve running water and sanitation standards. Usually there is a back room where special services are provided.

The feature attraction in each bar is the number of girls employed by the owner. Some will have two or three, and others have as many as 50. I met regularly with the Bar Owners' Association to discuss the biggest problem with which they are faced. The Public Health Office at the base and the City Health Department of Angeles City take a great interest in the venereal disease rate in this area. (It does slow up romance and it is bad for business). There is very little industry in Angeles, and the main attraction in the local area is bar girls, many of whom are healthy.

When I arrived at Clark, our VD rate was about 500 new cases a month. With a military population of about 10,000 people, this could be considered an epidemic; but people had been living with the problem for a long time. With the cooperation of the Mayor of Angeles City we established a Social Hygiene Clinic to inspect bar girls on a regular schedule. After about two months of inspections, we made some interesting discoveries. The girls were being sold ampicillin capsules which they were to take at four-hour intervals in the event they were infected. Their practice was simple; they would take two capsules the day before they were to be examined and there was no way positive smears would be identified. The Base Public Health Officer pointed out if they took enough of those pills to effect a cure, the minimum dosage would be 48 capsules. The most any of them had received was 12. Through subtly pressure -- like declaring an establishment off limits -- we convinced the bar owners that injectable penicillin would really do some good.

I remember one contact report from our hospital which indicated that a certain girl was responsible for eight cases of VD. The medical report indicated that she not only was not infected, but that she was a virgin. By urging the bar owners to be responsible for the health of the hostesses, the VD rate at Clark was below 150 per month by March of 1973.

I was asked to attend the annual Bar Owners' Ball, which was held at a basketball court on a side street I could probably never find again. They had set up a stage with a rock band and a table where the visiting dignitaries were to sit. It is a Philippine custom for every dignitary to give some kind of a speech during the evening. After it seemed like they had introduced every living Filipino and I had lost interest in the speeches. I heard my name mentioned over the public address system. Then I became aware that I was being introduced as the principal speaker. I had no idea of what would be a good subject, so I decided to give a lecture on ethical business practices. Since no one gave a damn what I said, I muttered on for about 20 minutes. At the conclusion of the speeches and a ceremony (swearing in a new board of directors), one of the girls came up and asked if she could have her picture taken with me. It seemed like a good idea at the time. After the first picture was taken, about 200 other girls came up for picture taking. About two weeks after the Bar Owners' Association annual ball, it was reported that a couple of enterprising girls had taken the photographs and had them blown up and hung them on the walls of their rooms. One even had a sign painted that said: "If it's good enough for the Base Commander, it's good enough for you, baby."

Down the road about 30 miles is the Subic Bay-Cubi Point naval complex, which has a large ship repair facility, and serves the Seventh Fleet. I thought we had a VD problem at Clark until the Chief of Staff at Subic told me that one aircraft carrier, after a ten-day stop at Subic, reported 1500 cases of VD from a ship's complement of some 3500 men.

With the use of identification cards, pictures, and weekly inspections, the risk to our airmen in Angeles is slightly better than jumping off the top of Hangar No. 1.

There is an interesting contract that can be entered into the City of Angeles between a young man and a bar girl. It has the look of a legal document wherein the girl simply states that she will be loyal to Sergeant "whatever his name may be" for as long as he is assigned to Clark Air Base, even when he is on temporary duty away from the station. I couldn't believe that anybody would be stupid enough to sign a paper like this -- and I am sure that no reader will give it much credibility; therefore, I have reproduced a copy of the contract. These contracts also contribute to the international hold problem at Clark.

In an attempt to keep people on base, we made a big run on improving non-appropriated fund activities on Clark. This includes all recreational facilities. There are three principal clubs; the Officers' Club, the NCO Club, and the Airmen's ' Club. The Airmen's' Club is by far the best facility because it is the only one that was designed and built to accommodate a large group of people and was built all at one time.

Long before I arrived at Clark, an enterprising club manager had established a hostess program, which for lack of a better term was identified as the "rent-a-girls." The drill regarding rent-a-girls was relatively simple. The contractor brings in about 100 girls a night, all of whom are inspected and certified. For one and a half dollars, these girls will serve as a companion for the evening. The rules of the club do not permit them to leave the building during the time of their employment. How enforceable this rule is, is shaky because there are eight exits to the club and only two stewards. Notwithstanding the objections of the chaplains and others, the program has been mildly successful. During the time I was at Clark we had no cases where any difficulty was identified with the rent-a-girl program, particularly VD.

Speaking of clubs, we had to continually guard against the ways employees could get into our billfolds. One clever fraud was for female employees to fill plastic bags with whiskey, tie them to the inside of their legs and walk into the bar area. As a method of cheating the club, it is hard to beat. All that has to be done is to pour the booze into empty liquor bottles, serve it over the bar at a profit of about $12.00 a quart, and pocket the entire income. Bar inventories are always accurate and cash register takes matched with such amazing accuracy that we finally started searching people -- much to the chagrin of the local labor union. (Everyone has rights).

Since it is relatively easy to intimidate some people, I required all employees of the three clubs to attend meetings where I made a simple speech. I said: "Your job depends on the net profit in those activities, If you want to know whether or not you are going to be employed at Clark Air Base, just look at the income statement and balance sheet. For every $100.00 we fall short of our objectives, I am going to reduce the number of employees by one person. Please don't steal yourselves out of a job." With one exception, we have never failed to make a profit in our club facilities since this thinly veiled threat was communicated.



That I, _______________________, of legal age, (single/married), _____________, with residence and postal address at Angeles City, after having been duly sworn to in accordance with law, hereby depose and say:

1. That I am presently stationed at Clark Air Force Base;

2. That I have taken into custody one by the name of __________________________ of legal age, single, and employed at ________________ Club, situated at ______________, Angeles City;

3. That within the time that I have custody of ______________ and while staying with me I take full responsibility for her and shall support and provided her the necessities of life;

4. That it is hereby understood that _____________________ is still in my custody unless I have formally turned her over to the operator of the club from whom I took her;

5. That I ___________________ on my part shall be faithful to ___________________ during all the time that he has custody of me, even if he is on TDY as long as I am staying with him and he has not formally returned me to the club operator I came from;

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand below this ___ day of _____________, 197_, Angeles City, Philippines.

______________________ _______________________ (Custodian) (Name)

______________________ _______________________ (Squadron) (Steady Contract No.)

______________________ _______________________ (S.S.S. No.) (I.D. No.)

Chapter X


On the morning of 19 September 1972 at six o'clock, I received a call from the Security Police desk sergeant who casually mentioned that the whole petroleum storage area was on fire. This kind of announcement really gets attention. On the way to the tank farm I could see huge billows of black smoke going up about 5000 feet. The shadow of the smoke covered the entire NCO housing area. When I arrived on the scene, people had gathered along all streets into the area. The closer I got to the source of the fire, the more crowded the area was. Fortunately both the Security Police and the Fire Department were changing shifts and we had plenty of people to take care of the situation. We set up a control point at the entrance to the housing area and dispatched people to direct an evacuation.

I thought of sabotage and other good things that could nave caused the fire when an irate housewife ran to my car and shouted, "You son-of-a-bitch, why did you let this happen?" My only response was, "It seemed like the right thing to do, lady."

I observed the General's car driving into the area and told the nearest security policeman to stop him, which he did. I pointed out to the General that we would report progress to him in his office with the hope that he would go there. And he did. There are nine 500,000 gallon tanks in the fuel storage area behind the NCO houses. The tank nearest the quarters at the bottom of the hill was burning like hell. No one had been hurt and the people behaved quite well considering the excitement.

We finally determined the cause of the fire. The jet fuel for Clark is transported through a pipeline from a seaport 51 miles away and stored in the tanks where the fire took place. Some dummy had filled the top tank and failed to close the fill valve. The fuel simply flowed down through the connecting pipes until the bottom tank began to overflow. The drainage ditches on base are concrete lined so evaporation was not a factor. Apparently some genius saw the fuel in the ditch. Because it smelled like fuel, he made a scientific test. He threw a lighted match in the ditch. I'm sure he was intrigued by the ensuing flash. The estimate of the volume of fuel burned was 175,000 gallons, which I never did believe, but who am I to dispute the supply officer. He has to cover inventory shortages some way.

Because I was given credit for causing the fire, it seemed to me I should have been commended for getting it started at six o'clock in the morning. It didn't interrupt the work schedule, we had a lot of people on hand, no one was injured, and it did provide a conversational topic for a few days.

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