Mabalacat West Airfield Monument
Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines
The first Japanese kamikaze pilots led by Lt. Yukio Seki took off from
Mabalacat West Airfield on October 21, 1944. They returned to base after they
could not locate any enemy ships.
On October 25, 2004, the monument at Mabalacat West Airfield, sometimes
now called Kamikaze West Airfield, was unveiled in a
special ceremony attended by both local Filipinos and visitors from Japan.
Daniel Dizon , a local historian and artist, argued since the 1960s that
Mabalacat should do something to remember the Japanese Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps. The first monument in Mabalacat Town to the Kamikaze Corps was erected in
1974 at the former site of Mabalacat East Airfield. However, this monument was
buried nearly completely in ash from the 1991 eruption of nearby Mount Pinatubo.
In 2000, a wall with the Japanese and Philippine flags was erected at the same
site as the original monument at Mabalacat East Airfield. In October 2004, a
kamikaze pilot statue was unveiled in front of the wall.
The Mabalacat West Airfield Monument has the same inscription in Japanese as
the original monument built at Mabalacat East Airfield: "Airfield where Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps aircraft first took off in World War II." The west airfield
was the actual location from where the first kamikaze squadron led by Lt. Yukio
Seki took off on October 21, 1944. However, it was impossible to build a
monument there for many years since Clark Air Base, a US military installation
until 1991, used the area of the former Mabalacat West Airfield as an ammunition
The monument displays flags of both the Philippines and Japan. The left side
has a plaque in English with a history of the Kamikaze Corps at Mabalacat, and the right side has a
plaque with the same basic history in Japanese. The English sign reads as
follows. This web page includes typographical mistakes on the sign,
and some of these are explained in notes at the bottom of the page.
First Kamikaze Airfield of World War
This spot is the western end of Mabalacat West Airfield - the very first
kamikaze take-off airfield of World War II. The very first kamikaze unit of
the war was organized in the Mabalacat, Pampanga on 20 October 1944 by Vice
Admiral Ohnishi Takijiro among the 23 flyers of the 201st Air Group, 1st Air
Fleet, IJN. Then stationed in the said town, it was named the "Shimpu
Special Attack Corps", and was commanded by Lt. Seki Yukio.
The first kamikaze force was subdivided into four units, namely the
Shikishima Unit, the Yamato Unit, the Asahi Unit and the Yamazakura Unit.
The first kamikaze force consisted initially of 13 pilots and were
ceremoniously inducted by V. Adm. Ohnishi himself at this airfield at about
3 p.m. on the said date.
The very first official kamikaze attack sortie of World War II took-off
from this airfield at 9 a.m. on 21 October 1944 when Lt. Seki, leading the
Shikishima Unit, composed of five bomb-laden "Zero" fighters, flew-out and
headed for U.S. Naval targets reported deploying at Philippine eastern seas.
The unit was unable to locate targets and had to return by landing at the
Mabalacat East Airfield - the air group's landing airstrip. For the next
three days the Shikishima Unit took-off from the West Airfield to attack
U.S. warships but due to bad weather it was unsuccessful. Finally, at 7:25
a.m., on 25 October 1944, the Shikishima Unit took-off from the Mabalacat
East Airfield and at 10:52 a.m. hit U.S. targets near Tacloban, Leyte. Lt.
Seki hit first and sank the carrier USS Saint Lo. His men also hit
and heavily-damaged the carriers: USS Sangamon, USS Suwanee ,
USS Santee, USS White Plains, USS Kalinin Bay and USS
Kitkun Bay. Some kamikazes from Cebu and Davao also joined in this
Lt. Seki's men were, FC/FPO  Nakano Iwao, FC/FPO Tani Nobuo, C/FSS
Nagamine Hagime  and S/FSS  Oguro Shigeo.
Their initial success popularized
kamikaze tactics to the majority of Japanese pilots in the Philippines,
Taiwan, Okinawa and Japan.
The last kamikaze sortie from this airfield took-off at 4:45 p.m.  on 06
January 1945 and attacked the U.S. landing armada at Lingayen Gulf. They
were five "Zeroes", led by a Lt.  Nakano. His men were: W/O
 Goto, W/O Taniuchi, W/O Chichara  and Lt. (jg.) Nakano
. Other kamikazes from Angeles
and Echague joined in this attack . Sunk was the USS
Long. Heavily damage 
were: USS New Mexico, USS California, USS Louisville,
USS Minneapolis, USS Columbia, USS Allen M. Sumner, USS
Walke, USS O'Brien, USS Southard and USS Brooks.
Kamikaze West Airfield sign.
In background, monument at left and
air raid bunker near center of photo.
At dawn on 08 January 1945, the last flight from this airfield took-off
when two evacuation planes loaded with classified kamikaze documents and
personnel made a low flying escape to Taiwan . All
other pilots and ground
crewmen who were left behind fought to the last man as infantrymen for the
defense of the entire Clark Field Complex against attacking U.S. Army
forces. On 26 January 1945 this airfield finally fell into American hands.
By the end of World War II, the kamikaze sunk and heavily-damaged 322
U.S. Navy vessels, killed 12,300 American sailors and 36,000 others were
seriously wounded. Out of 13,022 kamikaze warriors, 4,600 died in action .
The Japanese kamikaze of World War II was the largest military suicide
organization in all the annals of war history. It was instituted as a last
desperate measure for the defense of homeland Japan from foreign invasion.
The visitor is respectfully requested to say a prayer for the eternal repose
of the souls of all kamikaze and American war dead and for lasting peace and
friendship throughout the world.
A Project of Clark Tourism & Cultural Affairs Office
Clark Development Corporation
Daniel H. Dizon
Villa Gloria, Angeles City
Tel (045) 322-4176
The hill to the right of Mabalacat West Airfield Monument contains a tunnel
in which visitors can enter. A sign put up in 2002 describes the tunnel history:
Air Raid Bunker
A Known Kamikaze Tunnel
Situated at the northwest corner of the Kamikaze west airfield in a hill
called "babang dapu" (alligator's jaw) named by the Aytas. This is the only
known Kamikaze tunnel that remained intact after World War II.
It was constructed quickly as an air raid bunker for Tamai Asaichi,
commander of the 201st Air group, 1st Air Fleet, Imperial Japanese Navy, the
very first Kamikaze unit of World War II. It was constructed in late October
1944 and provided protection for Commander Tamai and some of his Kamikaze
pilots during deadly U.S. air raids.
The sign has a photo with the caption: "The Commander of Japanese Air Force
in Clark addresses a group of pilots."
There was also a color sign put up in 2002 near the road, but this no longer
stands in 2009. The sign had the following history:
Kamikaze West Airfield
This airfield was constructed by the Japanese in March 1944. By October
1944, it was operating as the West kamikaze air field during World War II.
It was here where the first Kamikaze pilots took-off on 21 October 1944 to
attack U.S. naval forces east of the Philippines. This airfield was used by
the Kamikaze up to 10 January 1945 when they transferred to Taiwan . On 28
January 1945, American liberation forces captured this airfield as well as
the whole of Clark Field.
The bottom part of the sign showed a photo of the arrival of Vice Admiral
Takijirō Ōnishi at the West Airfield.
Daniel Dizon (left) and Mabalacat tourism official (right) at
unveiling of Mabalacat West Airfield Monument on
.October 25, 2004. His Eminence Ekan Ikeguchi, a Buddhist
bishop from Japan (shown directly behind Daniel Dizon),
offered prayers at the unveiling ceremony. 
Dizon's autobiography (2007,
216-52), he describes in detail his many years of efforts to do something to
remember the kamikaze in the Philippines.
2. The correct spelling is
Suwannee rather than Suwanee.
3. FC/FPO means Flight Petty Officer
4. The "FSS" in the infrequently used
abbreviation of C/FSS may mean "Flight Superior Seaman." Nagamine's rank was
hikō heichō (Tokkōtai Senbotsusha 1990, 130), which Hata (1989, xiii)
translates as Flight Leading Seaman.
5. This should be Hajime rather than
6. The "FSS" in the infrequently used
abbreviation of C/FSS most likely means "Flight Superior Seaman." Oguro's rank
was jōtō hikōhei (Tokkōtai Senbotsusha 1990, 130), which Hata (1989,
xiii) translates as Flight Superior Seaman.
7. Inoguchi (1958, 219) and Osuo
(2005, 171) indicate the actual time as 1655 rather than 1645.
8. Most Japanese sources (Hara 2004,
165; Osuo 2005, 171; Tokkōtai Senbotsusha 1990, 142) show Nakano's rank as
Ensign. Osuo (2004, 41) inconsistently indicates earlier in his book that Nakano
was a Lieutenant Junior Grade. Inoguchi (1958, 112) is the only source to give
Nakano's rank as Lieutenant as indicated on the monument plaque.
9. Inoguchi (1958, 112) gives the
rank of Goto, Taniuchi, and Chihara as Warrant Officer. However, Hata (1989,
xiii) translates their rank of jōtō hikō heisō (Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
1990, 130) as Flight Chief Petty Officer.
10. This name should be Chihara
rather than Chichara (Hara 2004, 165; Osuo 2005, 171; Tokkōtai Senbotsusha 1990,
11. This name should be Nakao
rather than Nakano (Hara 2004, 165; Osuo 2005, 171; Tokkōtai Senbotsusha 1990,
12. Inoguchi (1958, 219) states
that Angeles and Echague were the bases from which other kamikaze planes made sorties
on January 6, 1945. However, other Japanese sources (Hara 2004, 165-6; Osuo
2005, 170-3) do not indicate any kamikaze sorties from Echague Airfield on that
date but do
state that sorties were made from Angeles and other Navy airfields such as
13. Warner (1982, 325-6) has a
slightly different list of ships that suffered extensive damage or heavy
casualties on January 6, 1945: New Mexico, Louisville, HMAS
Australia, Columbia, Allen M. Sumner, Walke, and
Brooks. Warner lists California, Minneapolis, Newcomb,
Richard P. Leary, O'Brien, and Southard as being damaged
but not seriously.
14. This evacuation is described in
Inoguchi 1958, 116-7.
15. The total of Navy Kamikaze
Special Attack Corps members who died in action is 2,525 men (Shirai 2002, 22),
although other sources have slightly different totals. There were also 1,432
Army Special Attack Corps members who died in aerial suicide attacks (from
Tokkōtai (Special Attack Corps) Commemoration Peace Memorial Association plaque
in front of Yasukuni Jinja Yūshūan in Tokyo, total includes 88 men of Giretsu Airborne
Unit), although other sources have slightly
different totals. It is unclear how Dizon arrived at 4,600 kamikaze pilots who
died. The source of a total of 13,022 "kamikaze warriors" is also unclear,
although numerous members of the Special Attack Corps survived the war with most
never participating in a suicide mission.
16. This statement contradicts
information on the monument plaque that states, "At dawn on 08 January 1945, the last flight from this airfield took-off
when two evacuation planes loaded with classified kamikaze documents and
personnel made a low flying escape to Taiwan." The date of January 10 may
have come from Inoguchi 1958, 105, which states that Vice Admiral Ohnishi
evacuated from Clark Field, near Mabalacat Airfield, on that date.
17. Fumiko Hattori kindly provided
this photo of the 2004 unveiling ceremony.
Dizon, Daniel H. 2007.
Firipin shōnen ga mita
kamikaze: Osanai kokoro ni kizamareta yasashii nihonjintachi (Kamikaze
seen by Philippine youth: Kind Japanese individuals engraved in my young heart). Tōkyō:
Hara, Katsuhiro. 2004. Shinsō kamikaze tokkō: Hisshi
hitchū no 300 nichi (Kamikaze special attack facts: 300 days of certain-death, sure-hit
attacks). Tōkyō: KK Bestsellers.
Hata, Ikuhiko, and Yasuho Izawa. 1989. Japanese Naval Aces
and Fighter Units in World War II. Translated by Don Cyril Gorham. Originally published
in 1970 by Kantosha in Japanese. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Inoguchi, Rikihei, and Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau.
1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.
Shirai, Atsushi. 2002. Tokkōtai to wa nan datta no ka (What
were the special attack forces?). In Ima tokkōtai no shi o kangaeru
(Thinking now about death of special attack force members), Iwanami Booklet No.
572, edited by Atsushi Shirai. Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten.
Tokkōtai Senbotsusha Irei
Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai (Tokkōtai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990.
Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tōkyō: Tokkōtai Senbotsusha
Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyōkai.
Warner, Denis, Peggy
Warner, with Commander Sadao Seno. 1982. The Sacred Warriors: Japan's Suicide
Legions. New York: Van Nostrand