Monday, June 25, 2012

The Presidential visit to the Manila Summit (1966)

U.S. Embassy Manila PI.
 U.S. Embassy in Manila P.I.
 Coordinates:                                        14°35′N 120°58′ 
 June 10, 1754
 16.0 m (52 ft.)
Population (2007)

Manila is the capital of the Philippines and one of the 16 cities that make up Metro Manila, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world with a population of 20 million people. It is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay on the western side of the island of Luzon.

Manila was the site of the fiercest battle in the Pacific theater during the war. During the battle, Manila became a city of bloodbath in Asia where 100,000 civilians were killed. It was the second most devastated city in the world after Warsaw during the Second World War. Since then the city has been rebuilt.

During the Marcos dictatorship, the Manila metropolitan area region was enacted as an independent entity in 1975 encompassing several cities and towns. During the Lacson era, also known as The Golden Age, Manila was revitalized and became once again the pearl of the orient, which Manila has earned before the outbreak of World War II.

City of Manila
The leaders of the SEATO nations assembled at a Summit in Manila, hosted by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos on October 24, 1966. In attendance were Prime Minister Nguyen Cao KY (South Vietnam), Prime Minister Harold Holt (Australia), President Park Chung-hee (South Korea), President Ferdinand Marcos (Philippines), Prime Minister Keith Holyoake (New Zealand), Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu (South Vietnam), Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn (Thailand), and President Lyndon B. Johnson (United States).

SEATO Leaders in front of the Philippine Congressional Building
Although other subjects were discussed, the Vietnam War was the main topic. Prior to and Immediately after the Summit President Johnson would also make state visits, to New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Korea. On this particular trip to Southeast Asia the President also made a surprise trip to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam to visit with the troops fighting there.

Malacañang Palace Manila Philippines
President’s Marcos and Johnson and First Ladies
While in the Philippines, President Johnson had several private meetings with President Marcos at Malacañang Palace, like the White House, this is the official residence of the President of the Philippines. The palace was made famous as the home of President Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, who were its longest residents, from 1965 to 1986. As first lady, Mrs. Marcos oversaw the reconstruction of the palace to her own extravagant tastes. Including the former San Miguel Brewery Buildings, this was demolished upon Expansion, paving away to a park near the San Miguel Church.

President Johnson and President Marcos also visited Corregidor to dedicate the opening of General MacArthur’s restored headquarters. The President also visited Battery Geary while on the island. In advance of the President’s visit temporary communications was established by connecting the location’s being visited and the WHCA switchboard in Manila. A temporary Command Post for the secret Service was also established for security reasons.

Corregidor is an island at the entrance of the Philippines' Manila Bay. Due to its position in the bay, it has served as a focal point for the naval defenses of the capital city of Manila. During World War II.

Entrance to Gen MacArthur’s Headquarters
Remains of Mile Long Barracks
Battery Geary was a battery of eight 13-ton, 12-inch mortars. Defiladed in a hollow on Corregidor's Southern coast it was fairly well protected from Japanese shelling. However, on January 6, 1942, a Japanese bomb landed in a makeshift bunker killing 31 of Battery Geary's NCOs and canners.  This battery was pinpointed by the Japanese artillery and was subjected to heavy shelling. One direct hit by a 240-mm shell, which detonated the magazines of this battery in May 1942, proved to be the most crippling shot during the entire siege of Corregidor. Large chunks of steel were blown as far as the Malinta Tunnel, killing 27 of the battery crew instantly.

 Remains of Battery Geary on Corregidor Island (Gun Barrel)
Remains of Battery Geary on Corregidor Island (Gun Mount)
General MacArthur was ordered off of Corregidor Island to Australia, announcing to the people of the Philippines as he left, “I shall return”.      

After the dedication on Corregidor Island they visited The International Rice Institute in Los Banos and then to everyone’s surprise The President flew to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam to visit the troops.

President Johnson and Gen. Westmoreland Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam 
In October of 1966 President Johnson departed on a diplomatic visit to a number of countries in Southeast Asia. The war in Vietnam was raging on, and the President planned to meet with allies at a SEATO conference in Manila.

Presidents Travel Itinerary October 1966

Wellington New Zealand
October 19-20, 1966
State visit; met with Prime Minister Holyoake.
Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Townsville, Australia
October 20-23, 1966
State visit; met with Governor General Casey and Prime Minister Holt.
Manila, Los Banos, Corregidor, Philippines
October 24-26, 1966
Attended SEATO summit conference
Unscheduled Trip            Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam
October 26, 1966
Visited U.S. military personnel.
Bangkok, Thailand
October 27-30, 1966
State visit; met with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
October 30-31, 1966
State visit; met with Prime Minister Rahrman.
Seoul, South Korea
October 31-November 2,     1966
State visit; met with President Park and Prime Minister Chung.

WHCA’s Role in the Presidents Manila Summit 

Although the Manila Summit wasn’t scheduled to start until October 24, 1966 the preparation for the President’s visit actually started on the morning of October 5, 1966 at Andrews AFB just outside Washington DC. On the tarmac sat a large C-141 transport plane. This transport would carry approx. 30 WHCA communications personnel and tons of communications equipment to Manila. Because of the length of the flight a comfort pallet was first loaded on to the plane, this contained an airline type kitchen and a rest room; the pallet also had airline style seats that would recline. The communications equipment was loaded last. When the cargo was secured, we were ready to leave. 

Manila was only one stop on a six nation Presidential trip so there would be five other C-141’s loaded with communications equipment at Andrews and sent to their assigned locations awaiting the Presidents arrival according to the travel itinerary. 

Loading cargo at Andrews AFB
Lockheed C-141 Starlifter
The first leg of the trip was from Andrews to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. After the plane was refueled and a new crew reported in, we departed for Komaki AFB in Tokyo, Japan. We departed Tokyo on October 7, 1966 and headed for Clark AFB in the Philippines.

The equipment was loaded on trucks and was sent to Manila, while the communications personnel were flown to the city arriving at the U.S. Embassy about 4 PM on 7 October 1966, where we received an orientation of the facilities and our I.D’s to use during our stay.

The equipment arrived at the Embassy the following afternoon and all of the Comm. Center secure voice and TTY equipment was unloaded and taken to the area where it would be installed. All of the FM and HF radio equipment was stored in the embassy until coverage surveys were completed and installation locations were selected. The final stop was the Philippine Telephone Central Office closest to the embassy and Malacañang Palace, this is where the switchboard would be installed and all circuits would be terminated. Also all of the Sierra FM radio circuits and paging system would terminate at the switchboard. 

Over the next two days radio surveys were completed checking coverage of all locations that the President, Secret Service and the White House Staff would be visit over the next two to three weeks. Baker, Charlie and Sierra FM base stations were installed at the Phillipinas Hotel, and the Telephone Co. Central office. The Embassy Annex was chosen to place the Collins Radio, KWM-2A which is a 1KW Single Sideband transceiver, used for long range radio communications back to the White House.  Baker, Charlie and Sierra FM base stations were also installed at this location.

The US Embassy would become the WHCA base of operation. The Secret Service Command Post would be established there, all of the Baker and Charlie FM radios would terminate in the CP. The AV events would be staged and shipped out from the embassy. All of the Sierra FM radios would terminate at the WHCA switchboard at the Telco’s central office building. The Embassy also had an area large enough to handle all of the helicopter arrivals and departures.

By October 12th the Comm. Center, Switchboard and radio equipment was installed and now manned around the clock. As the circuits were installed and tested the reliability of the network increased.

The travel itinerary also included two side trips that Presidents Johnson and Marcos would take. The first was to the International Rice Institute in Los Banos, Laguna Philippines and then to Corregidor Island. Los Banos was about 60km from Manila so we loaded a chopper and flew the radio equipment to the Rice Institute and installed it in about two hours. The next morning two of us again loaded equipment on a chopper but headed for Corregidor. We landed at the airstrip and we were met by the Military Governor of Corregidor Island. We surveyed the island and installed a field telephone at Battery Geary. With the help of the Philippine Army field wire was strung from Battery Geary to a radio site on the Island where a phone patch could be established. Later that afternoon we returned to the Embassy again by Chopper.

Everything was now installed and fully operational just waiting for the Presidents arrival on October 24th. I was assigned to work the CP and fly surveillance during the three days that the President was in Manila. The President and First Lady arrived as scheduled and were greeted by President and Mrs. Marcos. The summit convened that afternoon and adjourned the next day about noon. Then it was off to Corregidor and the dedication of Gen. Mac Arthur’s headquarters and visit to Battery Geary, at the conclusion of the dedication the President choppered to the International Rice Institute in Los Banos where he addressed representatives from several Southeast Asian countries. That concluded the day’s activities and the President returned to Manila.

On the final day of the visit President made an unscheduled trip to Vietnam to visit with the combat troops at Cam Rahn Bay. Nobody knew in advance where they were going and it wasn’t until Air Force One was on its way back did we know where they had been. The next morning the President departed to go to the next stop in Bangkok, Thailand. We had to keep everything active until the President touched down in Thailand then our job was to tear everything down and again gather everything together to ship it back by truck to Clark AFB.

There were a few members of the WHCA team that worked this stop, including myself that left Manila on November 1, 1966 to return to the US. We met with some additional personnel that were returning from other locations that the President had visited on this Asian tour. We were briefed aboard the aircraft that we were to be redeployed to various locations in the US that the President was planning to visit just Prior to the 1966 mid term elections.

We left Clark AFB and flew to Yokota AFB near Tokyo to refuel, we then flew to San Fransisco where went through customs.  I was told that the next day that I would pick up radio equipment and go to Chicago IL to join a team that was already there setting up the trip site. When I arrived in Chicago on Nov 2 1966 I was picked up at O'hare International Airport where I loaded all of the equipment into the Vehicle and departed for the Chicago Hilton Hotel where I would be staying.

Chicago Hilton and Towers
Two days ago I was enjoying warm weather in the Philippines and now I am in Chicago in the month of November, with only summer clothes.  the closest thing I had to a coat was a rain coat! The Windy City lived up to its name thank God I would be there for only two days!

Approaching O'hare International Airport
Since the fund raiser was being held in the Hilton Hotel, the Switchboard, Comm. Center and one set of FM Radio base stations were already set up by the time that I arrived.  Now we had to cover the motorcade route the President would take from O'hare to the Hilton downtown.  We choose the USSS Field Office on the near north side to install a second set of FM base stations for the motorcade. Once the radios were operational I started to survey the motorcade route by driving the Kennedy expressway out to the airport to make sure we had good radio coverage. I was almost to O'hare when I was informed that the entire trip had been cancelled! I turned around and returned to the field office and removed all of the radio equipment we had just finished installing and returned to the hotel.

On Nov 4 1966 we left Chicago and returned to Washington DC and home.

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