Poro Point, La Union Province, Republic of the Philippines
Wallace Air Station, circa 1989, looking south over the Gulf of Lingayen
For a "virtual" tour of Wallace - click on the different places in the above photo for a description.
Barracks and Chow Hall Mostly
for the enlisted troops. A few of the officers lived in on-base quarters, but there
was a shortage of space, so about half lived off-base.
Drone Launch Facility Run by
an Air Force contractor, the drone launch facility at Wallace provided PACAF pilots with
'live fire' training opportunities. Since the drones are not usually destroyed when
the are shot down, there was a need to recover them for reuse. Hence, there was a
drone recovery boat that was kept moored in the local harbor (San Fernando). When
the drone was "shot down" by a fighter's missile, the race was on. The
recovery boat was joined by numerous fishing boats (outrigger bamboo canoes) in the chase
to get to the drone. It seems that many of the locals considered the drone
"fair game" for salvage purposes, and figured that it might be worth a few pesos
(at least more than the daily catch of fish). During my year at Wallace, I believe
all the drones were successfully recovered by the USAF, although in the past some were
reported to be lost.
Golf Course Sometime, long before I had
arrived, someone had laid out a"golf course" on Wallace. The course
consisted of a few markers, some cups located on some sand 'greens', and whatever one's
imagination could provide. As can be seen from the photo, there are scarcely any trees
(read that shade) to be found anywhere on Poro Point. Except during the rainy
season, water is in short supply, and none was applied to the 'course' anyway. Thus,
the course consisted of coral sand, rocks, with a thin veneer of crunchy, brown grass.
While it did provide some diversion for a few hardy local souls, those visitors who
arrived expecting a golf course were sorely disappointed. It seems that the MWR
brochures which were available to all the visiting military personnel at both Clark AFB
and Subic Bay Naval, listed Wallace Air Station as having a golf course. This was
along with listings for Clark AFB and Camp John Hay, which really did have golf
courses. On more than one occasion, I answered inquiries from baffled visitors who
couldn't seem to find the 'golf course'. In many instances they had walked right
Helipad Wallace had some fuel tanks, and
was able to provide fuel for the occasional helo. A few CH-3s from Clark AFB, and
the occasional Navy chopper would drop by. UH-1s from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) would
also show up, but not too often as there wasn't much budget for operations. The
nearby community of San Fernando had a concrete landing strip. Not much, but enough
for some USAF aircraft to use it. On several occasions C-12s from Clark Air Base
would land at the SFLU air strip in order to give the Wallace firefighters some crash
rescue training. On other occasions the strip was used by USAF C-130s hauling USO
show equipment and personnel (Kool and the Gang performed at Wallace AS and then were
transported to Baguio for a show at Camp John Hay).
Old Lighthouse Rumored to
pre-date W.W.II. A local family occupied the adjacent house. (They were not
alone dozens of local families lived within the confines of Wallace. Called
"squatters" by some, they were said to have some sort of legal claim to be
there, and supposedly were "grandfathered" to allow them to
stay. One of my very first views of Wallace consisted of watching the goats that
belonged to these inhabitants, wandering around the base!). Near the lighthouse are the
steps leading down to Wallace's beach. Unfortunately, the salt air had taken its
toll on the stairs, and they were deemed no longer safe for use. As a result the beach
was put off limits. (Nevermind that the beach could be reached by banka (boat).
Operations Compound This fenced
in area contained the two radar antennae, the operations building, security police,
operations support, and the power generation facility.
Poro Point TACAN Navigational aid
used by aircraft.
Voice of America Antennas
Voice of America maintained a broadcast facility on Poro point. They had their own
buildings in a separate compound, but their broadcast antennas were scattered all over
Poro point. (When the Tianamen Square incident occurred in summer 1989, it became
apparent that VOA had "cranked" up the power on their transmitters. Not
only was the RFI apparent on radios and televisions, some of the antennae began to throw
arcs of energy between the antenna and the guy wires. In one case the arcing was so
severe that the guy wires were cut, and fell over a hundred feet below! A major
portion of Wallace was cordoned off for weeks while repairs were made.)
WASCOM Wallace Air Station Combined Open Mess - Wallace being as small and remote as it was could hardly support separate Officer, NCO, and Airmen's clubs. The solution was to create an "all ranks" establishment. It had the usual bar and restaurant, but it provided a few other important features. One of these was check cashing and currency exchange. Slot machines were available. An interesting practice was the policy of allowing local civilians to purchase membership in the club. While only a few dollars a month, this was beyond the means of all but the well off. Many of the local politicians (Mayor, Governor, etc.) maintained membership at the WASCOM. It was a sign of prestige for them to be able to bring their visitors to dine at the WASCOM, and partake of "American Style" food and beverage. During certain club events there were more "locals" present than "GI"s.