Subic Bay, a body of water about eight miles long by three and one half miles wide, is an inlet on the South China Sea on the southwestern coast of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Part of the Bataan Peninsula, which is also Bataan Province, forms the southern half of the eastern shore of the bay, while Zambales Province embraces the remainder of the periphery, forming a medium-sized peninsula for the western shore. In the center of the bay's mouth is Grande Island, with its small companion, Chiquita Islet, near-by to the south. Thirty miles to the southeast around the tip of Bataan Peninsula lies the entrance to the much larger Manila Bay.

Near the middle of the eastern shore of Subic Bay is a splendid harbor called Port Olongapo. All but the southern shore of this harbor lies north of the dividing line between the provinces of Bataan and Zambales, and therefore within the latter. On the northern shore of the harbor is the barrio, or village, of Olongapo. Immediately to the east of the village is Rivera Point, a sandy spit projecting into the water and marking a division between the outer harbor and an inner harbor which provides good shelter for vessels in the roughest of weather.

On Rivera Point once stood the buildings of a naval station begun by Spain - a station subsequently enlarged and operated by the United States Navy, garrisoned for nearly half a century by the United States Marines, and finally destroyed by Marine Corps and Navy personnel in December 1941 when Olongapo was abandoned to the advancing Japanese. In 1945, after the Japanese had been driven from Luzon, the Navy began rebuilding the station, and in September of that year the Marines resumed their garrison duties at that place. Under the terms of an agreement between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines concerning military bases in the territory of the latter, the Marines may remain there almost indefinitely. The pages that follow tell the story of this Marine Corps post from its origin through 1955.

The occasion for the Olongapo and other Marine post in the Philippine Islands grew out of the Spanish-American War. Under provisions of the Treaty of Paris of 10 December 1898, which formally ended the war, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States for $20,000,000. Pending the establishment of civil government, the archipelago was placed under the administrative control of the United States Army, with Major General Elwell S. Otis in command. These developments were far from pleasing to Emilio Aguinaldo, the Filipino leader who had headed an insurrection against Spain in 1896-97. He had returned from exile in Hong Kong after Dewey's naval victory in Manila Bay in May 1898 to organize an insurgent army of Filipinos under Americans auspices to fight against the Spaniards. With this native army Aguinaldo had assisted the United States forces in the occupation of Manila the following August. But already in the previous June he had declared the independence of the Philippines and established a provisional government. Protesting the transfer of sovereignty to the United States, Aguinaldo and his followers proclaimed on 20 January 1899 a constitution for the Philippines at Malolos, the town north of Manila Bay which served as their capital, and Aguinaldo assumed the presidency of the government inaugurated under the new constitution. On 4 February, with an attack by the insurgents on United States forces at Manila, the Filipino Insurrection against American rule began.

About a month later Admiral Dewey cabled the Navy Department for a force of Marines to help guard the naval station at Cavite. Formerly Spain's chief naval base in the Islands, this station naturally fell into a similar role for the United Station Navy. Up to this time the Army had been protection it; but after the outbreak of the Insurrection, there was increasing need for the Army troops for operations in the field. In response to Dewey's request, the First Battalion of Marines arrived at Cavite in May 1899. A request for additional Marines from Rear Admiral John C. Watson, Dewey's successor as commander in chief on the Asiatic Station, brought the Second Battalion, which arrived on 21 September, and Watson's further request resulted in the arrival of the Third Battalion at Cavite on 15 December.

It was during this initial year of the Filipino Insurrection that the Marines had their first contact with Olongapo. After the Spaniards, defeated in the war, had withdrawn from their Subic Bay station, the natives had moved in, and in 1899 the surrounding region was the haunt of insurgents and ladrones (the name used in the Philippines for bandits and robbers). The insurgents managed to acquire possession of a large rifled gun (reported to be 6 3/4 inch caliber), which they put in operation at or near Kalaklan Point, on the northern side of the entrance of Port Olongapo. On 23 September, after one or more of the vessels had been in the area continuously since the 14th and had exchanged for with the shore several times, the USS Charleston, Concord, Monterey and Zafiro joined in tan attach which silenced this menace. Following a preliminary bombardment of the position, a landing force of sailors and Marines, under the command of Lieutenant John D. McDonald, USN, left the ships at about 1045, went ashore against small-arms fire from the beach in the vicinity of the village of Olongapo, seized the gun, and blew it up with guncotton. The landing force was back aboard ship by 1300.

The Marines who participated in this action, according to the report of the Commandant of the Marine Corps for 1900, were 34 members of the Baltimore detachment (although that vessel was at Cavite), including their commanding officer, Captain John T. Myers, and a total of 36 men from the detachments of the Charleston and Concord, under Captain Melville J. Shaw, commanding officer Charleston detachment. (The Concord detachment was under a noncommissioned officer.)


Less than three months after the incident just related, the Marines came to Olongapo to stay. Their doing so was part of an operation jointly conducted by the Army and the Navy to clear the western part of Luzon of insurgents and calling for naval vessels to meet Army expeditions at various points along the coast. Under this plan, such an expedition was to be met at Olongapo by the Baltimore, Admiral Watson's flagship at that time, and the Oregon, bringing with them a force of Marines from Cavite to occupy the naval station. Early on Sunday morning, 10 December 1899, the two vessels arrived in Port Olongapo, and shortly afterward Major Robert E.L. Spence, 32d Infantry, commanding a battalion of Brigadier General Frederick D. Grant's Army brigade, came aboard the flagship to report that his troops had seized the village of Olongapo and the naval station the previous night without resistance.

Thus, by coincidence, the occupying of Olongapo with a garrison of Marines took place on the first anniversary of the treaty by which the United States had acquired the Philippines. For shortly after Admiral Watson had received Major Spence's report, he gave orders to Captain John T. Myers directing him, in addition to his already-assigned duty as commanding officer of the Marine detachment aboard the Baltimore, to "take charge of the Naval Station at Olongapo," to hold the same against the enemy," and "to take care of all public property and prevent any destruction of the same." A force of 100 Marines, the orders stated, would be under his command. At about 0815 Captain Myers and his men shoved off for the beach, and from the deck of the Baltimore the watch officer saw the American flag rise about the station at 0840. The Marines had added another post to the Corps.

With Captain Myers were First Lieutenants David D. Porter and Arthur E. Harding, USMC, and Assistant Surgeon Harold H. Haas, USN. About two thirds of the enlisted force cam from the First Battalion at Cavite, one man from the Guam Battalion and 33 men from the Oregon Marine detachment. One hospital steward, USN, who joined with Assistant Surgeon Haas from the Baltimore, completed the landing party.

By this time there was no major insurrectionist force remaining in the region around Subic Bay; but there were still bands of hostile Filipinos operating in the area, and in the course of the next two weeks Captain Myers sent out several patrols. One of these found and destroyed an insurgents' barracks. Another discovered an insurgent gunboat, thought to have belonged to Aguinaldo, hidden in the river near the navy yard.

On 25 December Captain Myers was relieved as commanding officer by Captain Herbert L. Draper, and returned to his detachment aboard the Baltimore. Lieutenant Harding had been detached eight days earlier, at which time he had joined the Marine Barracks, U. S. Naval Station, Cavite, and Lieutenant Porter joined Company F at Cavite on 27 December. Captain Draper had joined the detachment at Olongapo on 18 December but, though senior to Myers, apparently did not assume command until Myers was detached. With Captain Draper had come First Lieutenants George C. Thorpe, Logan Feland, and James W. Lynch, and approximately 44 enlisted men.

There additions to the force at Olongapo on 18 December resulted from the arrival of the Third Battalion, which, as has already been mentioned, occurred on 15 December 1899. The Third Battalion was disbanded as of the 18th and its personnel distributed between the First and Second Battalion, each of which had four companies designated A, B, C, and D. As part of the reorganization, the Second Battalion companies were redesignated E, F, G, and H, and the two battalions were joined together to form the First Regiment.

Under the reorganization the garrison at Olongapo became Company E, and the first muster roll for that station, showing the personnel status as of 31 December 1899, is so headed. This roll shows Captain Draper and Lieutenants Thorpe, Feland, and Lynch and 117 enlisted Marines present, Assistant Surgeon Haas and the hospital steward are also listed. All of the Marine Officers and enlisted Marines, except for the man from the Guam Battalion, were shown as having joined as of 18 December. Captain Draper, First Lieutenant Feland, and 41 enlisted men had come from Company A, Third Battalion; First Lieutenant Lynch and 75 enlisted men, from Company C, First Battalion; and First Lieutenant Thorpe, from Company D, Second Battalion.

The 33 enlisted men from the Oregon's Marine detachment remained there until the 23rd, when they returned aboard ship.

Under Captain Draper the efforts to establish and preserve law and order continued. The patrol system which had been set up in and about the village soon had ladronisum under control, and scouting parties continued to search the vicinity at frequent intervals for insurgents. The muster roll of Company E for January 1900 shows the following activities: 5th, expedition to Santa Rita; 6th and 7th, party burned insurgent signal station; 13th, first expedition to Baton; 15th, reconnoitering party to north mountains; 25th, skirmish at Baton; 27th, expedition in force to Bacbac.

At times the Olongapo Marines were supported by naval vessels in their operations against hostile Filipinos. A good illustration is provided by the account of an incident and its sequel which occurred the following month. It was necessary to send details to Benictican, in Bataan Province, for water. Here, on 16 February 1900 a water party was attacked by insurgents, and two Marines were killed. Driven off by a rescue party from Olongapo, the insurgents retired to Moron, a town on the west coast of Bataan Peninsula, south of the entrance to Subic Bay, where they had a headquarters with a blockhouse and a system of intrenchments.

Captain Draper was determined on the prompt punishment of the insurgents. The gunboat USS Manileno was present and willing to help but broken down, so Draper prevailed upon the master of a native steamer to tow the gunboat with himself and a force of 107 men aboard to Moron a little after midnight on the morning of 17 February. Surprising the defenders, he took the town without much resistance, destroyed a store of ammunition, and burned the blockhouse. On the afternoon of the same day he ordered the inhabitants of Benictican and Baton to move into Olongapo within three days or be declared outlaws. All obeyed his order except six families, who, according to his information, moved to another town. Draper then arranged with the gunboat USS Nashville, when it next came by on patrol, to shell Benictican on 23 February; after the bombardment, he entered the town with a force of 100 men and, finding it abandoned, destroyed it completely.

In addition to his military duties, Captain Draper exercised civil authority at Olongapo - through locally elected officials as far as possible. Early in the occupation he had offered the town as a place of refuge for Filipinos out of sympathy with the insurgents and desirous of living in peace. Olongapo thus gradually increased in population. On 28 January he held a municipal election in which the inhabitants, observing usual Filipino ceremonies but casting secret ballots, chose a president, vice-president, and secretary; acaldes (mayors) of Benictican and Santa Rita were also chosen. Being of the opinion that "some confidence" could be reposed in the persons elected, the captain installed them in their offices "with due and appropriate ceremonies."

Though it became necessary for Draper to destroy Benictican the following month, as we have seen, the local government thus instituted in the Olongapo area seems otherwise to have functioned fairly well. Through it he had by 10 February issued 204 cedulas, or personal registration tax certificates, and had appointed five native policemen. By the middle of March the number of cedulas issued had risen too over 400. No charge was made for these certificates, but small taxes were levied on the inhabitants to defray the cost of maintaining the native police, cleaning the streets, and providing sanitation for the town.

The Marines supplemented the local government in various ways. They issued rations when necessary to prevent natives from starving, supplied medicines and medical attendance, and set up a school for the teaching of English, with Lieutenant George C. Thorpe as instructor.


The Boxer Rebellion created a grave situation for foreigners in China in the spring of 1900, and by the end of June most of the First Regiment had been withdrawn to that country to help relieve the besieged Western legations in Peking. Company E, however, remained at Olongapo, and a garrison was also left at Cavite.

From May through November Company G (less some personnel on detached duty in the Manila Bay area) moved from Cavite to reinforce Company Eat Olongapo. Meanwhile, the First Regiment in China was reinforced by the Fourth and Fifth Battalions from the United States. When the regiment returned to the Philippines in the early fall, it brought the two new battalions with it.

The return of the First Regiment to the Philippines was followed by two important events. First the Navy took over from the Army on a permanent basis responsibility for the military government of the Cavite Peninsula late in October and of the Subic Bay area in November. This transfer of administrative and operational control would have occurred earlier had sufficient Marines been available as garrison troops; postponement had been necessitated by the absence of the greater part of the First Regiment in China. The second event was the reorganization of the Marines in the Philippines into the First Brigade, in response to an order issued by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Second Regiment was activated. The First and Second Regiments were each assigned two battalions and brigaded together. Brigade headquarters and the headquarters of the Second Regiment (initially) were to be at Cavite, while Olongapo was to be the headquarters of the other regiment and also headquarters of the commander of the Subic Bay district.

According to the annual report of the Commandant for fiscal 1901, Lieutenant Colonel Mancil C. Goodrell, USMC, was appointed on 26 November 1900 to be the commander of the "district of the pueblos of Subig and Olongapo, province of Zambeles, island of Luzon." Up to this time Captain Draper had been in charge at Olongapo. The brigade form of organization does not appear in the muster rolls until January 1901, the entire command still being embraced under the designation First Regiment through 1900. As of 3 January 1901 Lieutenant Colonel Goodrell assumed command of the First Regiment of the First Brigade, with his headquarters at Olongapo.


The strength of the brigade was not at this time evenly divided between Cavite and Olongapo. Not only the brigade headquarters and the entire Second Regiment, but also two companies of the First Regiment, were stationed at Cavite - a total of 36 officers and 830 enlisted men. Only three companies of the First Regiment were stationed at Olongapo, with a total, including regimental headquarters, of 10 officers and 257 enlisted men. Two other companies (5 officers and 202 enlisted men) of the First Regiment were stationed at Subic, the town at the head of Subic Bay, one company (2 officers and 48 enlisted men), was at Pollok, a small naval station on the island of Mindanao, and one company (4 officers and 97 enlisted men), at Isabela, another small station on the island of Basilan, near Mindanao.

This distribution of the personnel was far from permanent; however, the majority of the troops continued to be stationed at Cavite and its vicinity for approximately the next two years. Then a profound change occurred, as a result of which the bulk of the personnel was stationed at Olongapo during the remainder of the existence of the brigade, or until the beginning of 1914. To provide background and perspective for the developments which took place with regard to the Marines at Olongapo after 1901, we must now briefly sketch the role played by Olongapo in the naval establishment in the Pacific in the early twentieth century, bringing in Cavite insofar as that station was a rival of Olongapo for improvement and expansion. The background begins with the period of Spanish rule in the Philippines.

We have already mentioned that Cavite was Spain's chief naval base in the Philippines at the time the archipelago came into the possession of the United States. Located on Manila Bay, this base was about eight miles by water from Manila. However, various natural disadvantages of Cavite, including shallow water, unhealthful living conditions, and vulnerability in time of war, were appreciated by at least some of the Spanish authorities, and certain elements in the Spanish navy had tried from the 1880's on to transfer the naval emphasis from Cavite to Olongapo. The latter, having the natural advantages of deep water, more healthful climate, and defensibility, was repeatedly recommended by naval boards for development as Spain's man naval base in the Orient. Between 1885 and the outbreak of the war with the United States, Spain spent considerable sums at Olongapo for such improvements as the reclamation of land, dredging, and the erection of buildings, sea walls, and causeways, but the work of building up the station was hardly more than well begun by the time of the war. The slowness with which the development of Olongapo proceeded was later attributed by Admiral Dewey's aide to the "strong official and social opposition from those at Cavite, who much preferred the propinquity of the metropolis of the island to comparative exile at Subig."

Cavite, therefore, in spite of its defects, had the best-developed naval facilities in the Philippines when the Islands were ceded to the United States; in the circumstances, the American naval forces on the Asiatic Station had little choice but to place man reliance initially on those facilities. The Navy even transferred some Spanish machinery from Olongapo to Cavite, where it could be put to better immediate use. By 1903 Congress had appropriated more than half a million dollars to enable the Navy to improve and capitalize on the existing installation on Manila Bay. Up to this time Olongapo had received no appropriations at all.

Nevertheless, the potential superiority of Olongapo as a naval base was not lost from view by the top naval officers. As the command in chief in Asiatic waters, Rear Admiral George C. Remey called attention as early as his annual report for fiscal 1900 to the need for "a well equipped and situated naval station in the Philippine Islands." In the same report he expressed his opinion that Cavite was an unsuitable location because of its "shoal water and poor shelter." The need for the station was given some urgency, he pointed out, by the fact that the Philippines had no docking or repair facilities capable of accommodating the larger vessels of the Navy on the Asiatic Station, which were forced to rely on Hong Kong or Japanese ports for such services. In the latter half of 1900 Admiral Remey was senior member of a board appointed to select the best site in the Philippines for the principal United States naval station, and in January 1901 this board recommended Olongapo. Another naval board, under Rear Admiral Henry C. Taylor, was appointed the following April to draw up a plan for developing the station at Olongapo, with estimates of the cost; it completed the task in time for the plan and estimates to be submitted to Congress at the end of that year.

In view of the recommendation by the Ramey board, President Theodore Roosevelt issued an Executive Order on 9 November 1901 directing that "all tracts and parcels of land belonging to the United States situate in the provinces of Zambales and Bataan" within the boundaries specified in the order "be and the same are hereby reserved for naval purposes, and said reservation and all lands included within said boundaries are hereby placed under the governance and control of the Navy Department." The coastal boundary of the reservation thus established extended south from the mouth of the "Rio Pamatuan," near the Capones Islands in the South China Sea, to the town of Bagac on the west coast of Bataan Peninsula. The eastern boundary ran north from Bagac through Santa Rosa and Santa Rita Peaks to a point of intersection with a line running east from the easternmost headwaters of the "Rio Pamatuan," which river and the line extending it eastward formed the northern boundary. The Executive Order was published as Navy Department General Order No. 67, dated 14 November 1901, which directed that "the territory thereby set aside shall be known as the Subig Bay Naval Reservation." (The spelling Subig seems to have been in general use in official documents at the time of the Spanish-American War and during the early part of the twentieth century, but the prevailing usage now is Subic.)

Congress having failed to take any affirmative action on the plan and estimates for the development of a station at Olongapo which the Navy Department had submitted at the end of 1901, Admiral Remey's next two successors as Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, each called attention in turn to the need for a naval station in the Philippines, repeated Ramey's arguments and recommendation in favor of Olongapo, and pointed out again the shortcomings of Cavite in their annual reports. Remey's immediate successor, Rear Admiral Frederick Rodgers, who served from 1 March to 28 October 1902, assigned Commander U. R. Harris as naval governor of the reservation established by the Executive Order and as commandant of the naval station at Olongapo. Admiral Rodgers considered this step to be a natural sequel to the promulgation of President Roosevelt's Executive Order. However, his successor, Rear Admiral Robley D. ("Fighting Bob") Evans, after attempting in vain in January 1903 to obtain emergency funds for maintenance and repairs at Olongapo, detached and reassigned Commander Harris. Admiral Evans had considered the need for the funds urgent enough to warrant cabling for them, but the Department suggested in its reply that the buildings in question, having been in existence for some years already, would continue to stand while a request was processed through the ordinary channels, supported by the reasons for the request.

The admiral's reasons, given in his annual report of the following July, consisted of a repetition of what his predecessors had already said about the need for a large naval station in the Philippines, especially the need for docking and repair facilities for the larger vessels of the Asiatic Fleet, and another argument in favor of Olongapo over Cavite. In the course of his remarks he mentioned the reassignment of Commander Harris. Because "the Department would not authorize an appropriation for the maintenance of the station, nor for an outfit, nor make provision of any kind for the commandant," he explained, "I felt that it was hardly proper to keep an officer in command of a station in the welfare of which so little interest was shown and compel him to remain on duty where his services were, in consequence of the lack of money and men, useless so far as improvement and preservation were concerned...."

As a result of these repeated recommendations from the senior naval officers on the Asiatic Station, the Secretary of the Navy took up the matter of a naval station in the Philippines in his annual report for 1903 to the President and Congress. Pointing out that the lack of an adequate naval base nearer than Puget Sound or San Francisco would render the position of the Asiatic Fleet untenable in case of war, he urged Congress to give its early attention to the matter of providing a suitable base in the Far East. Only two places had been seriously considered for such a base, he went on - Cavite, on Manila Bay, and Olongapo, on Subic Bay. As between these, "naval opinion, so far as it has reached the Department," he wrote, "unanimously favors Subig Bay." Observing that the naval opinion referred to included not only the judgment of the successive commanders in chief on the Asiatic Station but also that of two boards of naval officers appointed to consider the question and, in addition, was concurred in by Admiral of the Navy Dewey, the Secretary concluded: "It would seem as if this body of opinion ought to be deemed conclusive. I know of no other military question upon which such unanimity exists."

Stimulated into action by this presentation of the case, Congress authorized its first appropriation for the development of the station at Olongapo the following April (1904). The total of $862,395 provided for public works under the cognizance of the Bureau of Yards and Docks was intended to cover the completion of a survey of the reservation, the repairing of the buildings erected by the Spaniards, the commencement of a quay wall, the construction of quarters for the commandant and three other naval officers, the construction of Marine barracks and outbuildings and Marine officers' quarters, dredging, a water-supply system, and a pier for use in landing and receiving stores. In addition, the Bureau of ordnance was given $50,000 for "powder magazines, shall and filling houses, and so forth."

The years from 1904 through 1908 marked Olongapo's period of greatest prosperity, for in each of those years Congress made a substantial appropriation for public works at the Subic Bay naval station. The degree to which the fortunes of Olongapo had gained the ascendancy over those of Cavite was emphasized by the fact that the latter station was completely omitted from the list of appropriations for public works for 1905 and again in 1906, and when it reappeared the following year it was for a comparatively small sum. By the time he made his annual report for fiscal 1905 the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks was able to inform the Secretary that topographical surveys had been run at Olongapo, buildings left by the Spaniards had been repaired or reconstructed and placed in use, temporary quarters for the commandant and for three other naval officers had been built, and the pier for landing receiving stores had been completed. Two years later he was able to report that the floating dry dock Dewey had arrived at Olongapo on 10 July 1906. The Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance was able to state in his report for 1906 that two magazine buildings and one shall house were near completion and that work on additional ordnance construction was in progress.

But 1908 was the last year in which the Olongapo naval station received an appropriation for public works under the plan to develop it into a large base. In 1909 the Secretary of the Navy reported to the President the new thinking of his Department on the subject of bases in the Pacific Ocean. "The joint board has recently considered this important matter," he wrote, "including the whole strategic field of the Pacific, and has made a report recommending that we maintain a small docking and repair station at Olongapo, in the Philippine islands, but that our main naval base in the Pacific Ocean should be established at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii." The joint board had considered that no location on Manila Bay had sufficient natural advantages to make extensive development feasible without exorbitant expense, whereas "it was found that Olongapo was ideally situated, as far as natural advantages go, and that in confining its facilities to the use of the floating dock and small repair shops, its defense would not be one of serious moment." The next year the Secretary recommended that Congress authorize the Department to give up the station at Cavite and transfer its facilities to Olongapo.

This, however, was not to be. Whether or not for the reason given to account for its favored position under the Spaniards - i.e., "the propinquity of the metropolis of the islands" - Cavite not only survived as a naval station but remained the Navy's principal base in the Philippines up to World War II. When the Philippine Islands became the 16th Naval District, in 1919, the commandant of that district made his headquarters at Cavite. By 1922 a complete reversal of the 1909 attitude toward Cavite vis-a-vis Olongapo had taken place in the Navy Department; in his annual report for that year the Secretary announced that the naval station on Subic Bay had been closed and that its machinery and equipment were being transferred to Cavite, though "the floating dry dock remains temporarily at Olongapo, being operated by the navy yard at Cavite."

But the intentions expressed in this report were not fully carried out, either. Though Congress included $400,000 to cover the cost of moving the dry dock Dewey among the appropriations it approved in 1925 for the transfer of equipment and facilities from Olongapo to Cavite, this particular project was never accomplished. The floating dock remained in Operation at Olongapo until 22 July 194, a little more than 35 years after its arrival. Only then, as the shadows of approaching war grew darker, was it moved to what was supposed to be a safer place - Mariveles, on the tip of Bataan Peninsula. It was blown up there by the Navy on 8 April 1942, the night before Bataan fell. And Olongapo, despite its "inoperative" status, contained to have a commanding officer (who was also captain of the yard) and other naval personnel assigned to it until the Japanese occupied Luzon.

At the time the First Brigade was organized, the bulk of the personnel, as we have seen, was stationed at Cavite. Though there were minor changes, the general picture remained about the same until the fall of 1901 when the call came to send help to the Army on the island of Samar. On the morning of 28 September, at Balangiga on that island, insurrectionists had struck suddenly, massacring about two thirds of Company C, Ninth U. S. Infantry, while the latter was eating breakfast. As in the case of the Boxer Rebellion, the expeditionary battalion formed on this occasion was composed of Marines stationed at Cavite: Companies C, D, and H of the First Regiment and Company F of the Second Regiment. Commanded by Major Littleton W. T. Waller, the battalion embarked in the USS New York at Cavite on 22 October, en route to a rendezvous with destiny outside the scope of the present history.

Although no troops from Olongapo took part in the Samar expedition, some were moved from that station and Subic to Cavite to replace part of those sent from Cavite to Samar. When the Samar force returned at the beginning of March 1902, its personnel was divided between Cavite and Olongapo. Because of the establishment of the Subic Bay Naval Reservation the preceding November, more consideration was given Olongapo than formerly in the assignment of troops, but Cavite still continued to have much the same concentration of Marines in the archipelago throughout 1902.

It was also at Cavite that what was called an "advance base outfit" was stored. After the capture of Aguinaldo in March 1901, the Insurrection began to peter out, though guerrilla warfare, in which the Samar hostilities were prominent, continued in some degree until April 1902. In these circumstances the First Brigade was regarded as a reserve available for the prompt provision of expeditionary forces wherever needed on the Asiatic Station; China was considered the most likely place where disorders endangering American lives and property might occur. To increase the effectiveness of such expeditionary forces, the Navy Department provided certain material, including guns, mounts, and other items to be used in seizing and defending a forward base. This advance-base outfit was kept at Cavite because, as the situation existed at the time, the Marines who would use it were stationed there.


Such was the state of affairs in the First Brigade when Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans became Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet on 29 October 1902. Scheduling special operations and maneuvers of the fleet to begin the following December, the admiral set up as one of the exercises the seizing of an undefended harbor on a hypothetical enemy's coast and its defense against a subsequently arriving superior enemy force. The place selected for the staging of this problem was Subic Bay. An expeditionary force of 200 Marines from Cavite and its vicinity, accompanied by material and equipment from the advance-base outfit, occupied Grande Island, at the entrance to the bay, and erected guns for the protection of mine fields in the channels on each side of the island. Vessels of the fleet operated in the bay itself.

Having observed the strategic advantages of Olongapo under these operational conditions and the deteriorating and neglected condition of the buildings and other improvements left there by the Spaniards, the admiral cabled Washington in January, as we have seen, for emergency funds for maintenance and repairs. As we have also seen, the request was disapproved, and no funds for the development of the station were forthcoming until Congress finally acted more than a year later. But if the admiral could only propose in regard to funds for the station and wait for the Department or Congress to dispose, he was able to take action himself in giving Olongapo a more important role in the life of the First Brigade. For he not only though Olongapo superior to Cavite as a site for a naval base; he also regarded it as greatly preferable to serve as "the principal station for quartering the Marine force" because of its "infinitely healthier" and "more temperate" climate and because it afforded "less temptation to the men than Cavite, where the surroundings are most undesirable, and tend to weaken the discipline and efficiency of the Brigade."

Accordingly, on 5 February 1903, after the maneuvers had been completed, Admiral Evans established a reserve battalion of 500 men at Olongapo, in addition to the regular garrison there. This battalion, which he considered a sufficient force to handle any emergency that might arise on the Asiatic Station, was to maintain itself in a state of readiness at all times for expeditionary service. A transport was to be kept available for its use. To head the battalion the admiral assigned Major Lincoln Karmany, who as commanding officer of the Marines on Grande Island during the Subic Bay maneuvers had made a very favorable impression on him. Guns, mounts, mines, torpedoes, and other gear necessary for the establishment of an advanced naval base were stored at Olongapo.

The revolution in the disposition of the brigade effected by Admiral Evans is manifest when one compares the distribution as of the end of November 1902, immediately before the special maneuvers and operations, with that obtaining at the end of February 1903. In November, at Cavite and vicinity, were the headquarters of the brigade, the headquarters of the First Regiment (which had exchanged locations with the Second Regiment since January 1901) and three of its companies, plus three companies of the Second Regiment and a detachment at Rosario (on Manila Bay to the south of Cavite) - a total of 25 officers and 781 enlisted men. At Olongapo, on the other hand, were the headquarters of the Second Regiment plus two of its companies for a total of 12 officers and 153 enlisted men; a detachment at Subic raised the total for the Subic Bay area to 15 officers and 230 enlisted men. Pollok had a detachment of two officers and 51 enlisted men, while Isabela de Basilan, with Company C of the First Regiment, had three officers and 111 enlisted men. At the end of February 1903 Cavite still had the First Brigade and First Regiment headquarters and three companies from the First Regiment, but only one company from the Second Regiment, for a total of 19 officers and 369 enlisted men; Olongapo had the Second Regiment headquarters and five Second Regiment companies for a total of 21 officers and 475 enlisted men. Pollok (three officers, 38 enlisted men) and Isabela de Basilan (three officers, 105 enlisted men) remained about the same as in November, but the detachments had been withdrawn from Rosario and Subic.

Because of the relatively peaceful conditions in the Philippines following the cessation of insurrectionary activities, it was the admiral's opinion that another 500 men in addition to the expeditionary force at Olongapo would be sufficient to provide the garrisons needed at the various posts, making a total of 1,000 enlisted Marines in the First Brigade; indeed, if the Department saw fit, the total for the garrisons could be lowered to 350, the admiral said, thus reducing the total for the brigade to 850. Admiral Evans also expressed the opinion that the brigade headquarters should be moved to Olongapo.

The Navy Department approved the new pattern of distribution of the command in the Philippines but decided to maintain its strength at a figure more appropriate to a brigade than that recommended by Admiral Evans, the additional men to be stationed at Olongapo. In July 1903, before it had received the report containing these recommendations of the admiral, the Department set the strength at 1, 500 enlisted men, distributed as follows: 350 at Cavite, 100 at Olongapo, and 25 each at Pollok and Isabela de Basilan, making a total of 500 for garrison duty, as recommended by Admiral Evans in the larger of his two figures, and 1,000 for the expeditionary force at Olongapo. On the muster rolls, however, no distinction was made between the expeditionary force and the garrison troops; the regimental commander was also the post commander.

The Department took no action to shift the headquarters of the brigade, though the continuing emphasis on Olongapo resulted in the removal of the headquarters of the First Regiment from Cavite to join that of the Second on 6 July 1905, from which date (except for the absence of the First Regiment's headquarters aboard the transport Rainbow with an expeditionary force in 1911 and 1912) both regimental headquarters were to remain on Subic Bay until the brigade was disbanded early in 1914. On 12 December 1905 the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet raised the subject again in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy through the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In this letter Rear Admiral Charles J. Train wrote:

"I have attempted the transfer of the Brigade Headquarters to Olongapo, but each attempt has met with strong opposition from the Brigade Commander, Paymaster and Quartermaster, all of whom claim that their business relations with Manila demand their presence in this vicinity. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that these claims are more a matter of convenience than of necessity and I still think that the Brigade Headquarters should be changed to Olongapo."

A case against this transfer was made by the Commandant in his endorsement on Admiral Train's letter. He feared, he said that removal of the brigade headquarters from Cavite, where the senior naval officers were, to a location within the jurisdiction of the commandant of the Olongapo naval station might raise "vexatious questions" as to the authority and jurisdiction of the brigade commander. But this consideration aside, there were still cogent reasons why the change should not be made. He pointed out that....

" is essential that the Brigade Quartermaster be near the market to which he must go for the purchase of both the Quartermaster's and commissary supplies required for the Brigade, and as Olongapo is so widely removed from the nearest market, to-wit: Manila, - and as the only means of communication is by tug twice a week, and as said communication is frequently interrupted for long periods during the hurricane season, the removal of the Brigade Quartermaster to Olongapo would, in the opinion of the undersigned be a detriment to the efficient operation of his office. In the same manner as the law does not permit the Paymaster of the Brigade to keep large amounts of money on hand, it is essential that he would be in close contact with the Insular Treasury at Manila from which he draws his money."

So long as the Navy Department failed to develop Olongapo into a first-class naval station, the brigade commander and his staff officers found "the propinquity of the metropolis of the islands" as necessary for their purposes as it was to the admirals for naval business. In fact, the brigade headquarters were moved from Cavite into the city of Manila itself in September 1906 and remained there until 1914.

The change in the pattern of the Marine command in the Philippines instituted by Admiral Evans gave rise to another administrative problem, which finally required a Navy Department special order for its resolution. This was the question of the jurisdiction and authority of the brigade commander, alluded to by the Commandant of the Marine Corps in his arguments against moving the brigade headquarters to Olongapo. In June 1903, Colonel F. H. Harrington, then commanding the brigade, complained that the former state of affairs in which the assignment of personnel was made by the brigade commander no longer obtained. Citing recent developments which virtually removed control of his personnel from his hands, notably that of the appointment of Major Karmany as the head of the expeditionary force at Olongapo by order of the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, with authority to choose his own subordinate officers, Colonel Harrington requested clarification of the status and authority of the brigade commander. However, the Philippine Squadron Commander and Admiral Evans, through whose hands Colonel Harrington's letter passed, insisted so strongly that the position and responsibility of the brigade commander were clear and well defined in existing regulations that the matter remained in abeyance until it was raised again by Lieutenant Colonel Charles A. Doyen as brigade commander in December 1905.

On this occasion the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet was Rear Admiral Charles J. Train, whose comments on moving the headquarters of the brigade to Olongapo were quoted above. Admiral Train took a much more sympathetic view of the senior Marine officer's problem than Admiral Evans had done. Agreeing that the status of the brigade as a force needed to be more definitely established, he described the situation calling for correction. As of his writing, he explained, the Marine force.....

".... is under the command of various persons. The Commandant at Olongapo things the Brigade is under his command, since it is stationed at Olongapo. The colonel commanding the Brigade thinks he should have the right to occasionally give an order. The Commanding Officer of the Cavite Navy Yard things all Marine mail should pass through him. The Commander of the Philippine Squadron reprimands the Colonel of the Brigade if he presumes to move an officer from one company to another without his consent, and lastly comes the Commander-in-Chief who spends a large part of his time trying to settle the various squabbles arising from this confusion of authority."

Since the brigade was an emergency organization which would operate directly under the commander in chief in time of war, Admiral Train saw no reason why it should be "an adjunct of the Philippine Squadron"; he therefore recommended that the brigade commander should be made independent of all naval commanders except the commander in chief of the Asiatic Station.

When this correspondence reached the Navy Department, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, concurring with Admiral Train's point of view, drew up a proposed special order to be issued by the Secretary to put into effect. The acting Chief of the bureau of navigation, however, raised the question whether there should be a brigade headquarters at all. He argued that the brigade existed only on paper because the brigade commander had only one company under his immediate command at brigade headquarters in Cavite proper while the bulk of the brigade was at Olongapo. Under the circumstances, he suggested a regimental organization would be much more appropriate, and instead of the introduction of "complicated machinery into the regulations to provide for one marine organization existing in the Philippines the necessity for which.....has been demonstrated by experience to be of doubtful value," the proper solution was the abolition of the brigade form of organization. But in any case, the Bureau insisted, the senior officer of Marines in the Philippines, whether a brigade or regimental commander, should be administratively subject to the Philippine Squadron Commander.

Referred to the General Board of the Navy Department for a recommendation, the matter eventuated in the issuance of Navy Department Special Order No. 10, dated 21 April 1906, which embodied a compromise between the two extreme positions. The brigade form of organization was retained, but the brigade commander was placed under the Philippine Squadron Commander as well as under the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet. Under the direction and supervision of these two officers, but independent of all other naval commanders, the senior Marine officer was given general administrative control of the brigade.

Only one modification of this order was necessary during the remaining years of the brigade's existence. In November 1910, after the Asiatic Fleet had been reorganized into divisions and no longer had a Philippine Squadron as such, the Commandant of the Cavite and Olongapo Naval Station (the command of both stations was vested in one officer at this time and continued to be so for some years) was substituted for the Philippine Squadron Commander.

The military duties of the First Brigade at the time it was organized included the garrisoning of various naval stations and outposts, the suppression of insurgents and ladrones in the districts in which the Army had relinquished administrative and operational control to the Navy, and the furnishing of expeditionary forces to China, as necessary. Although chronically short of its authorized complement, it was able to meet the demands only because no large-scale operations became necessary, either in the Philippines or in China.

Insurgent activity ceased to be a problem in the Subic Bay area after 1901; from the annual report of the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet for that year we learn that "an important and troublesome insurgent force finally surrendered to the marines" at Olongapo. But occasional encounters with ladrones continued through the years. Sometimes these involved bandits fleeing from the neighboring province of Cavite into Zambales Province, in which Olongapo was located; sometimes, incidents of local origin.

In one case of the latter category, a native resident of Olongapo was attacked, his wife abducted, and his property stolen by five ladrones in the vicinity of "Morong" on 3 November 1901. The native reported the incident to Lieutenant Colonel O. C. Berryman, then in command of the District of Subic and Olongapo, who at once sent a detail in pursuit of the ladrones. This detail, consisting of 10 men, a corporal, and First Lieutenant W. W. Low, who volunteered for the assignment, found and captured the bolo-armed bandits near Mabayo, in Bataan Province, and returned them to Moron for trial by civil authorities.

Several expeditionary detachments had occasion to go to the Asiatic mainland from the reserve force of the First Brigade in the yeas following its establishment by Admiral Evans. Three officers and 100 enlisted men were sent to protect the United States legation at Seoul, Korea, at the end of 1903, just before the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War. In 1905, two officers and another detachment of 100 enlisted men relieved a company of the Ninth U. S. Infantry as the legation guard in Peking, China. (The junior officer with this detachment was First Lieutenant Thomas Holcomb, Jr., destined to become seventeenth Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1936-1943.) Because of the conditions attending the revolution which erupted in 1911 against the Manchu dynasty in China, a battalion was sent from Olongapo to Shanghai in October of that year aboard the transport USS Rainbow, followed in December by an additional company. These troops stayed aboard the transport for many months off the cost of China.

As a consequence of the ending of the Philippine Insurrection and the fairly infrequent calls on the Marine to pursue ladrones or furnish expeditionary forces, there was plenty of time for training. The Commandant of the Marine Corps remarked in his report for 1902 that, as a result of virtual cessation of active service in the field, drills were being held regularly five times a week at the various stations. Later, when the greater part of the brigade was at Olongapo, Admiral Train expressed particular gratification concerning the value of the Subic Bay Naval Reservation as a training area for the Marines. "Their practice marches of a week or more in duration into a wild and most difficult country," he wrote in 1905, "their building of bridges, making of roads, and practice in everything that is a part of a soldier's duty in the field, all go to make Olongapo the most invaluable school that any soldier ever had and most unique in its advantages." Touching on this same subject in 1907, the Commandant in Washington reported that a battalion had covered a hundred miles in less than five days in a practice march with ill effect on any of the men; another detachment had marched 50 miles in 36 hours without excessive fatigue. Since these exercises approximated the conditions of actual service in the field, the Commandant commented, their successful performance showed "beyond peradventure the high state of efficiency of the command."

The lessening of the strategic value of the Philippines in the minds of the Navy Department war planners after 1908, as evidenced by the selection of Pearl Harbor as the site of the principal naval base in the Pacific, was further indicated by the concentration of Marine Corps interest in advance-base work on the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean region. In 1910 a school for instruction in advance-base doctrine was established at New London, Connecticut, (it moved to Philadelphia the next year). The island of Culebra, near Puerto Rico, became the favorite place for testing academic theories of amphibious operations and advance-base work. About the time the advance-base school was set up, the strength of the First Brigade in the Philippines, which has risen to 1, 600 during the build-up period at Olongapo, was reduced to 1,156, and in the course of the first three months of 1914 the brigade was disbanded. Except for the personnel who remained to garrison the Marine Barracks, Naval Station, Olongapo - a designation first referred to in a muster roll on 15 March 1914 - and the Marine Barracks, Naval Station, Cavite, the officers and men of the brigade were distributed among various other stations or ships in the Far East or the Pacific area or returned to the United States. The designation First Brigade was transferred in the early spring to the Marines assembled at Veracruz because of trouble with the dictator Victoriano Huerta, whom President Wilson had refused to recognize as the legitimate ruler of Mexico.


At the end of April 1914, there were four officers and 76 enlisted men assigned to Olongapo; Cavite had two officers and 79 enlisted men. Three years later, at the end of the month in which the United States entered World War I, Olongapo had three officers and 118 enlisted men; Cavite, two officers and 126 enlisted men. During the enormous expansion of the Corps which occurred during the war the number of enlisted men at Olongapo increased to 178 by the end of November 1918, while the number of officers remained at three; Cavite, however, increased to six officers and 269 enlisted men. After the demobilization, Olongapo had four officers and 95 enlisted men at the end of January 1920, while Cavite retained a strength of seven officers and 197 enlisted men. During these years, far from the center of attention in France, the Marines in the Philippines were pretty much in the category of those who also serve who stand and wait.

After World War I the attention of the Corps was again drawn to China. Civil War broke out in that country in the 1920's and turbulent domestic conditions persisted through most of the decade. Temporary expedients were used by the Marines to deal with crises as they arose until 1927, but in that year a substantial strengthening of the forces in the Orient took place.

There was only a brief reminder of First Brigade days at Olongapo, however, When an unusually serious situation in the vicinity of Shanghai in 1927 caused Japan and the Western powers to raise an international force of 40,000 men to protect their interest in that city, the Marines organized the Third Brigade, under Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, as part of that force. Some of the units making up the Third Brigade, which was formed mostly of troops from posts in the United States, went directly to Shanghai; but several battalions and smaller units were assembled first at Olongapo and held there briefly in a reserve status before they too were sent forward to join the brigade.

The Third Brigade soon moved to Tientsin but left a regiment, the Fourth Marines, at Shanghai. At the beginning of 1929, when it appeared that a force of brigade strength was no longer necessary in the Far East, the various components of the Third Brigade, except the Fourth Marines, were withdrawn, mostly to the United States. Before these units left, they furnished reinforcements to the legation guard at Peking, which had been maintained by the Marines since 1905, and also to the Fourth Marines. This regiment, instead of assuming the status of a reserve force in the Philippines, after the fashion of earlier years, remained at Shanghai; it was destined not to "go back to Subig" until about a week before the attack on Pearl Harbor, by which time its position in China had become untenable.

Although the Marine Barracks, Olongapo, contributed to the formation of several of the detachments sent to China on temporary missions in the 1920's and '30's, notably to one which reinforced the Fourth Marines at Shanghai for about two months early in 1932 because of fighting between Chinese and Japanese in the vicinity, the post was primarily concerned in these years with guarding the naval station and patrolling the town and naval reservation. The Marine officers at Olongapo had been relieved in September 1901 of the civil functions they had been discharging, civil government having been established in the Islands on 4 July 1901. However, the muster rolls show Marine officers of the post acting as Reservation Justice of the Peace and Reservation Police Judge at the beginning of the 1920's; the rolls make no mention of these duties earlier. The police court was dissolved on 20 March 1922, thus eliminating the position of Reservation Police Judge, but the duties of Reservation Justice of the Peace continued to be performed by one of the post's officers, often the commanding officer, until World War II.

Probably the most interesting duties to which enlisted men were assigned during this time were those of reservation patrol. The responsibilities of men on this detail were described in January 1939 as follows:

They continually patrol the sixty-one square miles of jungles, enforce game laws, prevent theft of government timber, and keep an eye on the several tribes of Negritos that live on the reservation......There are many barrios (villages) on the reservation which are populated by civilized natives. Each barrio is controlled by a member of the reservation patrol. He enforces all regulations, and sometimes acts as judge, jury, and at all times as sheriff.


Living conditions for the Marines at Olongapo left much to be desired in the way of physical well-being, especially in the earlier days. Admiral Train wrote in 1905 that the men of the brigade at that station had been for years "crowded together, without any of the comforts or decencies of life, parched by sun, drenched by rain, dependent for food on the supply brought from Cavite by a small Naval tug....... Drinking water was a problem for some years, and it was not until 1907 that an ice plant recommended in 1903 was in operation and contributing to the health and comfort of the men. The first Marines stationed at Olongapo lived in barracks which had been used by Spanish troops. In 1902, after a personal inspection of 14 posts in the Philippines, the Quartermaster of the Corps reported that most of the Spanish building he had seen leaked, and many required new floors; some painting, white-washing, and certain other improvements were also urgently needed. After the expeditionary force was set up at Olongapo in 1903, it apparently was necessary to supplement the Spanish barracks with thatched huts made from the leave of the nipa palm.

The first Congressional appropriation for Olongapo, in 1904, contained a provision for quarters for the Marine officers and men; but three years went by before the Brigadier General Commandant was able to report the completion there of six sets of officers' quarters and six one-company barracks. "These," the said, "very much relieve the condition of affairs a that place." But he described these buildings as "of a temporary character," adequate "until the building programme at Olongapo is sufficiently matured to warrant the construction of permanent barracks for marines at that station." The next year he called attention to the fact that 20 Marine officers were stationed at Olongapo whereas the available quarters were designed for only 12; through even this situation was better than that at Cavite, it was "still far below what it should be, and the quartermaster has been directed to embody in the estimates a sufficient sum to remedy this situation." But since Pearl Harbor's star was rising by this time, no further funds for new housing at Olongapo were appropriated, and the situation had to be dealt with from this time on as best it could with funds provided for maintenance and repairs.

Because of the debilitating effect of the Philippine climate, a policy of limiting the continuous service of Marines at posts in the archipelago to two and one half years was put into effect in 1902; at that same time it was hoped that the period could later be reduced to two years. The comparatively healthful living conditions at Olongapo had been stressed as one of its advantages as a site for a naval station, and it is therefore no surprise that the annual reports of the Surgeon General of the Navy typically state of Olongapo that "the general health and sanitary condition of this station were good during the year." Of diseases due to the natural surroundings and climatic conditions malaria and dengue gave the most trouble, but they were kept well under control. Nevertheless, there apparently was plenty of room for improvements which were not made; for in 1919, looking at the situation from the perspective of time, the Surgeon General commented: "Though we have now occupied the Philippines for 20 years, the general sanitary situation at Cavite, San Roque, and even at Olongapo is a sad reflection on American administration." The following year Congress appropriated $75,000 for a new hospital building at Olongapo.

Not much attention seems to have been given in the early years to recreation for the men, though hunting, fishing, and swimming were doubtless available to them from the beginning. The Commandant of the Corps tells of a rifle tournament held in March 1902 by the brigade commander, who at that time was Colonel James Forney, twice brevetted for Civil War services and the only officer to win a brevet between the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. Prizes were offered for the best three rifle shots in the brigade and three teams from Manila Bay posts - Cavite, San Felipe, and Bacoor - competed against each other and against a team from Olongapo at the navy-yard range at Canacao, which was also on Manila Bay. The Olongapo team won all three prices. By 1906, after the bulk of the brigade had moved to Olongapo, a volunteer band with a small repertory mostly of marches and waltzes could add to the entertainment of the post as well as function on more formal occasions.

Quite inadvertently and improbably, the band provided a bonus of amusement - in retrospect, at least - in connection with its playing at one of the more serious events of life, military or otherwise - a funeral. A private had drowned in the Kalaklan River on 17 March 1906, and, his body having been recovered early the next morning, arrangements were made for burial with military honors on the 18th. The entire complement of the post attended the ceremony, as a part of which the band played a funeral march. Shortly afterward an article appeared in the Manila Cablenews charging that disrespect and ridicule had been shown toward the deceased by the playing of "Always in the Way" at his funeral, and other papers joined in the adverse comment. A board of investigation was convened to inquire into the selection of the music for the occasion. The post adjutant, Captain Smedley D. Butler, testified that when he had asked the sergeant who was acting as drum major if the band if the band could play a funeral march, the sergeant had replied that it could not play the regular march for that purpose but knew another which could be rendered in slow time befitting the circumstances. Apparently few, if any, of the Marines were aware of the title of the selection until later, for the testimony before the board was unanimous in affirming that no disrespect had been shown the deceased but that, on the contrary, the atmosphere had been one of solemnity and dignity and the honors had been marked. The board concluded that the article in the Cablenews had been "malicious, sensational and erroneous in spirit, and the majority of the men of the command at Olongapo were indignant at its publication."

Recollections of life in the Olongapo vicinity provided the inspiration for the chorus of one of the more popular of the old service songs, Zamboanga; the chorus runs as follows:

Oh, we won't go back to Subiq any more;

Oh, we won't go back to Subiq any more;

Oh, we won't go back to Subiq,

Where they mix our with tubig;

Oh, we won't go back to Subiq any more.

The words certainly are not a forthright expression of affection for the place; on the other hand, they do not necessarily contain a severe condemnation. One might infer that somewhat disagreeable but quite bearable experiences were associated with the locality mentioned - experiences concerning which one could sign and joke afterward and which one could symbolize, in accordance with the exigency of the rhyme, by water wine (tubig is Tagalog for water). Some officers, and doubtless some enlisted men too, even returned for second tours of duty at Olongapo and it is difficult not to believe that this was voluntary in at least some of the instances. In any case, morale must have been good in 1905, for Admiral Train commented near the end of that year that the Marine brigade at Olongapo was "the finest body of American solders I have ever seen."

Be that as it may, the conditions of service on Subic Bay became considerably more pleasant after World War I, which introduced an unprecedented emphasis on recreational facilities for men in the armed services everywhere. Though Olongapo was reported in 1919 as having "a satisfactory Y.M.C.A. but no other advantages," the 1920's and '30's brought great improvements. From an article in the Leatherneck at the beginning of 1924 we learn that the station at that time was located "right alongside the only golf course in this part of the country" and that all kinds of athletics were available - "baseball, basketball, volley ball, and so forth - anything from marbles to war." No specific reference was made to bowling alleys or a gymnasium, but these were included among the facilities listed in another Leatherneck article some 15 years later. The latter article also mentioned an enlisted men's club, mascots and pets, and picnics and moonlight parties on the beaches, particularly Half Moon Beach, with local girl friends of the Marines dancing and singing songs in Tagalog, Ilokano, and Spanish. Liberty for 48 hours was granted on week ends to those who cared to go to Manila or Cavite, but most of the Olongapo Marines reportedly, preferred to go fishing.

The improvements in the environment of the station brought about by recreational facilities was further enhanced by landscaping efforts through the years. In 1939 its grounds were described as "a virtual tropical garden," with acacia trees along the main roads, coconut palms, hibiscus, and gardenias bordering most of the walks, and many other species of trees, shrubs, and flowers contributing to a scene of variegated beauty.


After the decision in 1922 to close Olongapo, which was never entirely carried out, the strength of the post detachment dropped rather sharply, and between that year and the beginning of World War II the number of enlisted Marines varied between 30 and 80. (Cavite at the same time had approximately three to four times as many men as Olongapo.) The outbreak of World War II found the detachment at Olongapo consisting of three officers and 73 enlisted men, Major Stuart W. King commanding; but also present at the station was the Fourth Regiment commanded by Colonel Samuel L. Howard, which had arrived from Shanghai on 1 and 2 December 1941.

Early on the morning of 8 December (7 December in Hawaii and the United States) the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor reached Olongapo, and intensive preparation were made in expectation of attack. Wire was strung, and foxholes were dug, road blocks established, antiaircraft guns made ready. Only two meals a day were served after 9 December - breakfast before daylight and dinner after dark. On 12 December the Japanese struck for the first time, in an air raid which sank the naval station's seven PBY seaplanes as they floated in the harbor shortly after returning from a scouting mission. Another air attack occurred the next day. After the naval station's communication wires were cut, all Japanese civilians around Olongapo were arrested and turned over to the Army provost marshal at Manila.

On 20 December General Douglas MacArthur, alluding to previous discussions concerning the use of the Fourth Marines, requested Admiral Thomas Hart, Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, to place this "powerful veteran organization" at his disposal "as developments of the Navy plan can make it available." Two days later Admiral Hart replied that he had that dated directed the commanding officer of the regiment to report to General MacArthur with the forces under his command "for such tactical control and employment as you may desire in the defense of Luzon." On the same date, 22 December, by authority of Regimental Special Order No. 142, dated that day, the Marine Barracks, U. S. Naval Station, Olongapo, P. I., ceased to exist and its remaining personnel were transferred to the Fourth Marines (about one third of the personnel had previously been so transferred on 8 December).

When Colonel Howard reported to MacArthur's headquarters, the general had already made the decision to move to Corregidor and declare Manila an open city. Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell, Commandant of the 16th Naval District, also was moving to Corregidor, and Admiral Hart was preparing to leave Cavite by submarine for the Dutch East Indies, to which most of the Asiatic Fleet had already retired. At MacArthur's headquarters in Manila, Howard received orders from General Sutherland, MarArthur's chief of staff, to defend Corregidor. Shortly afterward, at Cavite, Howard met Admiral Rockwell, who ordered him to destroy the Olongapo naval station at once.

Back at Subic Bay, Colonel Howard immediately began the process of transferring personnel and supplies by truck to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan, opposite Corregidor. On Christmas morning he received a dispatch from Admiral Rockwell urging him to expedite the destruction of Olongapo and fall back on Mariveles, lest he be cut off by Japanese forces; but reconnaissance showed that the withdrawal route was not in imminent danger of being blocked, and Howard allowed himself until the next day to complete the task.

The plan for destroying the station had been made several days previously, and Captain Francis H. Williams, USMC, was in charge of a demolition detail of Marines assigned the mission of carrying out the plan. The obsolete armored cruiser USS Rochester (ex-Saratoga, ex-New York), which had been rusting for years at the decommissioned wharf of the naval station, had already been sunk on 24 December; the Marines had placed mines in her, tugs manned by naval personnel had towed her to the deep water of the channel, her bottom had been blown out when the mines were detonated, and the ancient vessel had settled into the water, just as dusk was falling. By the time Captain Williams and his detail had completed their work on the 26th, the concrete ramp for hydroplanes had been blown up, all unevacuated stores and equipment, such as submarine batteries and aviation gasoline and oil, had been destroyed, and all buildings had been burned. (The Marines had spared the main building of the Marine Barracks for fear they would endanger the native village nearby if they set fire to this building; but the natives themselves had fired their village, and the building burned with the village.) And so, 42 years, two weeks, and two days after the arrival of the first occupying force of Marines, the last of their successors in unbroken sequence left Olongapo in flaming ruins.

A little over three years later Americans were once again in possession of the Subic Bay area. Marines did not participate in the operation of 29 and 30 January 1945 in which an amphibious assault force, commanded by Rear Admiral A. D. Struble and with the XI Army Corps as a landing force, seized two principal strategic points in the region without opposition. However, Marines were occupying Olongapo again before the end of the year. On 6 June 1945 the Commandant of the Marine Corps ordered the Commanding General, Marine Garrison Forces, 14th Naval District in Hawaii, to form a unit to be designated the 26th Provisional Marine Company and assigned to guard duty at the United States Naval Reservation, Olongapo. Activated on 7 June this organization received embarkation orders, on 25 August, and arrived at Cavite on 11 September in the USS Electra (AKA-30), with four officers and 100 enlisted men, Major J. M. Rutledge commanding. Spending the 12th and 13th at Cavite, the company divided forces on 14 September, two officers and 30 men proceeding to Olongapo in an LCT while the remaining personnel went to Manila to unload the company's gear from the ship and put it aboard trucks for transfer to Olongapo. The reoccupation of Olongapo by the Marines thus dates from 14 September 1945.

Since no buildings were available for housing or storage, the Marines were quarters initially intents at the naval reservation and were engaged for some time thereafter in building a storehouse for their supplies and equipment. In October they began their guard duties by setting up two check station on the Manila Road and one of the Subic Road, supplemented by patrols. As a result, the black-market operations which were flourishing upon their arrival were soon virtually eliminated. In December the Marines added the guarding of the Main Gate and Santa Rita Road Gate of the navy yard to their other responsibilities, relieving naval personnel of this duty.

By the end of the year or shortly afterward the strength of the unit had been increased by six officers and 150 enlisted men, and on 13 February 1946, in accordance with Department of the Pacific dispatch 140123 dated February 1946,its designation was changed from the 26th Provisional Marine Company to the Marine Barracks, Naval Operating Base, Subic Bay, P. I. Two additional officers arrived on 26 March, one of whom, Major Lucien W. Carmichael, relieved Major Rutledge as commanding officer on 1 April.

Meanwhile, prefabricated buildings were being erected for the use of the Marines, who had moved on 12 December to an area previously used by the 21st Special Seabee Battalion. Three barracks each with a capacity of 44 men, a galley capable of feeding 250 men, a recreation hall, a supply building, and offices - all in quonset huts - were ready by 31 May. On that date the command moved into its new area, though nearly half the men were still obliged to live in tents.

On 4 July 1946, in accordance with the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie independence Act of 1934, the Philippine Islands completed the 10-year transitional period toward sovereignty prescribed by the act and became the Republic of the Philippines. Existing military ties, however, underwent very little immediate change. The continued use by the United States of military and naval bases in the Islands was formally agreed upon in a document signed at Manila on 14 March 1947, effective 26 March. Included in the list of bases of which the United States is to have the use "free of rent, in furtherance of the mutual interest of both countries," is "the existing Naval reservation at Olongapo." The lease is to run for 99 years, "subject to extension thereafter as agreed by the two governments."

Between the middle of 1946 and the end of 1955 the designation of the post was changed three times. On 8 August 1949 the name Marine Barracks, Naval Operating Base, Subic Bay, gave way to Marine Barracks, U. S. Naval Station, Subic Bay, by authority of Subic Bay Naval Operating Base Order No. 32-49, dated 8 August 1949. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, by dispatch 221920Z of July 1050, modified this new designation to the extent of substituting Marine Detachment for Marine Barracks, as of 1 July 1950. The name was changed back to Marine Barracks, U. S. Naval Station, Subic Bay, on 15 September 1951 in accordance with Instruction 5450.19 from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, dated 15 August 1951.

The Subic Bay post was not called upon for men during the fighting in Korea until after the entry of Communist China into the conflict. On 6 January 1951 the post transferred 52 men to the 1st Provisional Casual Company, Fleet Marine Force, Marine Barracks, Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan, for further transfer to the 1st Marine Division in Korea. This draft represented Subic Bay's main contribution to the Korean conflict, though a few transfers were subsequently made on an individual basis and an additional 16 men were transferred on 18 May 1951.

During 1951 Yokosuka sent back to Subic more men than it had received from that source. This helped to raise the post's strength to about 100 more than the average of earlier years, when it had fluctuated between 150 and 200 enlisted men and five to nine officers. The new level was maintained, and as of 31 December 1955 the enlisted strength was 308, with 279 authorized; on the same date there were nine officers, the number authorized.

The Marines at Olongapo are now in their 53rd year of guarding naval property and furnishing troops for expeditionary duty on the Asiatic mainland. As they march on toward their centennial they will not be immune to the earthly cares, service-connected and otherwise, this side of the millennium; but may their wine be mixed with little tubig.


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