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    Del Monte Airfield Bukidnon Province | Mindanao Philippines
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USAAF 1942

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Gelynch52ph 2012
Location
Del Monte Airfield was located in a meadow on the Del Monte Corporation plantation near Del Monte in Bukidnon Province in central Mindanao in the Philippines. Also known as "Del Monte Field". Conceived as a secret American airfield, that would allow bombers and fighters to operated outside the range of enemy aircraft and would also be able to evacuate southward to Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Construction
On November 9, 1941 the U.S. Army began construction in a meadow owned by the Del Monte Pineapple Corporation by the 5th Air Base Group. Three runways were built at Del Monte, plus additional auxiliary airfields at Malaybalay Airfield (Maramag), Dalirig Airfield and Valencia Airfield.

Wartime History
Although sparse in equipment and facilities based the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG) and 7th Bombardment Group (7th BG) as they evacuated from Clark Field, and later as a staging point for their evacuation to Batchelor Field near Darwin.

On December 18, 1941 a Japanese reconnaissance plane locates Del Monte Airfield. Realizing the field was spotted, the rest of the day was spent camouflaging parked aircraft with palm fronds.

On December 19, 1941 at 4:00pm Japanese aircraft attack Del Monte Airfield including A6M2 Zeros that strafed claiming two B-17s and three B-18s destroyed. At the airfield was six B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and four B-18 Bolo bombers that had just arrived from Clark Field. Destroyed on the ground was B-17D 40-3093, Tash's bomber, which was already disabled previously. After dark starting at 10:00pm until December 20, 1942 at 1:00am, the remaining B-17s took off from Del Monte evacuating key personnel and fly southward to Batchelor Field near Darwin.

On December 20, 1941 fifty-four Japanese bombers again bombed Del Monte Airfield.

Evacuations of MacArthur, Quezon and Senior Staff
Although the B-17s had withdrawn from Del Monte Airfield, it was used as a staging base for bombing missions and evacuations of personnel and senior staff. After U.S. President F. D. Roosevelt ordered General Douglas MacArthur, his family and senior staff to be evacuated from Corregidor aboard PT Boats to Mindanao.

On March 16, 1942 three B-17E Flying Fortress from Australia were flown to Del Monte: B-17E 41-2408, B-17E 41-2429 and B-17E 41-2447. A fourth B-17E 41-2434 was unable to start their engines and did not participate. General MacArthur, his family and senior staff were flown from Del Monte Airfield to Batchelor Field near Darwin in Australia.

On March 23, 1942 Philippines President Manuel L. Quezon, his family and senior staff arrived at Del Monte to await evacuation by B-17s. While waiting, Quezon stayed at nipa house near the airfield. On March 26, 1942 three B-17s from Australia flew to Del Monte to evacuate Philippines President Manuel L. Quezon and his family plus his aide General Valdes, Vice-President Osmena, Dr. Trepp and other personnel and departed by 1:20pm.

Royce Mission
On April 12, 142 a group of nine B-25s and three B-17s from Darwin were flown to Del Monte for the Royce Missionled by General Ralph Royce bomb Japanese forces in the Philippines. The bombers flew three missions over two days without loss of personnel or planes. On April 13, 1942 the bombers departed evacuated key military and diplomatic personnel from Del Monte.

Royce Mission #1: April 12, 1942
B-2s hit the harbor and shipping at Cebu, while B-17's carry out single-bomber strikes against Cebu Harbor and Nichols Field.

Royce Mission #2: April 13, 1942 morning
During the night of April 12-13, B-25s take off just after midnight on a mission to bomb shipping off Cebu and installations at Davao.

Royce Mission #3: April 13, 1942 afternoon
In the afternoon, B-25s again bomb Davao, targeting the dock area.

During the middle of 1942, occupied by the Japanese during their occupation of the Philippines. Starting in November 1944, Del Monte Airfield was within range of American aircraft and was bombed.

American missions against Del Monte Airfield
November 1, 1944–January 13, 1945

During June 1945 liberated by the U.S. Army. During late June 1945 again used by American aircraft.

American units based at Del Monte
13th AF, 25th Liaison Squadron (UC-78, L-5) Malabang June 22, 1945

Postwar
The area was returned to the Del Monte Corporation that built a runway for light aircraft used by the company located roughly two miles south of the wartime runway.

Today
Disused as an airfield since the Pacific War. Both runways, no. 1 main runway and no. 2 fighter runway have been replanted as rice paddies and planted with crops. At least one wartime era road remains in use today as a dirt road.

By 2013, this postwar Del Monte Corporation runway was closed and controlled by Del Monte management and still used by ultralight aircraft and paramotor aircraft from the paramotor flying school of Kampo Juan eco resort and for locals flying model aircraft.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur Landmark
The Gen. Douglas MacArthur Landmark was built in 2012 by the Rotary Club of Northern Bukidnon in Barangay Diclum on of the former Del Monte Airfield to commemorate the airfield and the location where General Douglas MacArthur was evacuated. The monument includes a center pillar with "In Alis Vincimus" (Latin: The wings win) with a three bladed propeller from a postwar aircraft and three wings behind. The monument includes two flag poles with the Philippines and United States flags. Inside a fenced area are three plaques. The first "Gen. Douglas MacArthur Landmark" with his biography. The second "U.S. Air Force [sic U.S. Army Air Force] Del Monte Airfield". The third "U.S. Army Air Force". References: Manolo Fortich Gen. Douglas MacArthur Landmark June 19, 2012 via Wayback Machine January 5, 2017.

References
Doomed From The Start by William Bartsch
Fortress Against The Sun page 79-80
The Good Fight by Manuel L. Quezon pages 284, 289
The Army Air Forces in World War II Chapter 11: The Defense of Australia pages 404, 406, 407, 418, 426
U.S. Army in World War II - The Fall of the Philippines Chapter V: The First Days of War pages 88, 89, 96, 97
U.S. Army in World War II - The Fall of the Philippines Chapter XXVIII: The Southern Islands pages 501, 508, 516
U.S. Army in World War II - Appendix G Japanese Order of Battle in Eastern Mindanao
On Wings We Conquer (1990) page 31 (photos)
The Fall of the Philippines (1993) by Louis Morton pages 43, 88 [PDF]

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Last Updated
April 19, 2021

 

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