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A Monument was built after the base was returned to the Philippines. It appears to have been built on the location of Big Sam Tower (S-500) (V-101).
The cross that used to be in the antenna field was taken out of the Philippines by Army Col Olson (who was a POW in the Death Camp after the fall of Bataan and the Death March, Camp O'Donnell) and is now in the POW Museum at Andersonville, GA
The remains of those POWs buried at Capas were relocated. Some to cemeteries in the Philippines and some returned to the United States.
In 1992 Army Col John Olson, a POW at the Death Camp and author of "O'Donnell: Andersonville of the Pacific," headed up the effort to save The Cross from deterioration by having it moved from Capas to the U.S. National Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville, GA, site of the infamous Civil War Prison Camp.
Click on the photo of the Cross to view a SLIDE SHOW of the Cross - retrun to this page with the Back Button
The U.S. Naval Radio Station, Tarlac in 1970
The U.S. Naval Radio Station, Tarlac, also known as the U.S. Naval Radio Transmitter Facility, Capas, Tarlac, was a remotely located unit of the parent command the U.S. Naval Communication Station Philippines (NavComStaPhil), and was located at 15.354114 deg north latitude, 120.536048 deg east longitude, near the town of Capas, Tarlac Province, Luzon, Republic of the Philippines. The sole, and exclusive, purpose of the radio station was to provide short-wave, radio transmission capability for the communication station, that is, to be the radio voice for NavComStaPhil. In that role, it provided wide area radio broadcasts, as well as dedicated, point-to-point radio transmissions to individual U.S. Navy ships operating in the vicinity of the Philippine Islands.
The station was operated and maintained by a combined work-force of U.S. Navy personnel, U.S. Marines, U.S. Civilian Contractors, and Filipino personnel.
U.S. Navy: 2 Officers, 85 Enlisted(1970).
U.S. Marines: 3-4 Enlisted, rotating in from NavComStaPhil (1972).
U.S. Civilian Contractors: 2 (1970).
Filipino Employees: 212 (1970).
K9 Security Patrol Force: 2-3 German Shepherd Dogs (1972).
Incoming messages to the station, for subsequent radio transmission, were primarily multi-channel teletype data, with occasional voice signals. All incoming data was sent from the NavComStaPhil, in San Miguel, and either originated there, or was relayed by them from some other point. The incoming data from San Miguel was relayed by a series of microwave relay sites: first from San Miguel to the Naval Relay Facility at Mt. Santa Rita, then to the Dau relay at Clark AFB, and finally to the radio station at Tarlac. Data assignment to individual transmitters, and pairing with individual antennas, was controlled via a teletype orderwire from San Miguel.
Some of the station's radio transmitters were utilized for wide area radio broadcasts using a single, constant radio frequency, while others provided dedicated radio transmissions, i.e. radio circuits, to individual Navy ships, using directional beam antennas. Transmitters assigned to individual ship circuits were often changed in frequency, as dictated by changing ionospheric conditions and resultant signal fading, or for other tactical reasons.
Information received from Walter Butler, who served at Capas from about 1950 to 1955 disclosed that prior to the U.S. Navy Radio Transmitting Facility at Camp O'Donnell there was an Air Force Radio Transmitting Station operated on the site. The facility was administered by the 14th Communications Squadron of the 13th Air Force which was headquartered at Clark Air Force Base. There was a detachment of about 150 airmen stationed at Camp O'Donnell operating about 20 short wave transmitters and the broadcast transmitter for the local unit of the Armed Forces Radio Station.
The U.S. Naval Radio Transmitter Facility, Capas Tarlac began operation in 1962, having assumed radio transmitter responsibilities when U.S. Naval Radio Transmitting Facility Bago Bantay, Quezon City was deactivated.
As part of U.S. Navy policy in the Philippines, the station administered a people-to-people program including the construction of public works and projects, especially school improvements, water supplies and other projects that fell within the capability of the base. Many of the officers and men stationed at NRTF, Capas sponsored children from the surrounding area in High School and for dental and other medical services.
The early history of Camp O'Donnell
The radio Transmitting Facility was built on land which had previously been Camp O'Donnell. Just prior to World War II, the camp had been a U.S. Military reservation, and was used as a bombing and artillery range. At the onset of World War II, the Philippine Armed Forces were brought under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Armed Forces. At that time Camp O'Donnell was designated as a Philippine Army camp.
After the surrender of the U.S. and Philippine forces in Bataan, in early 1942, the partially completed army camp became a Japanese prisoner of war camp, and, in April 1942, Camp O'Donnell, was the final destination of the infamous Bataan Death March. For a brief period, from April 11th, 1942 to January 20th, 1943, approximately 9,000 U.S. military personnel, and 50,000 Filipino soldiers were interned there. During that 285 days over 1,565 American prisoners and approximately 26,000 Filipino prisoners died at the camp.
The cause of these deaths ranged from malnutrition, dysentery, malaria, lack of medical care, and execution. The Japanese Army segregated the Americans and Filipinos; Americans on the north side of the camp, and Filipinos on the south side. A large concrete cross monument in the North antenna field marked the site of a cemetery for the Americans who died there. A monument just outside the fence on the South Side of the base marked the Filipino graves .
In January 1943 the surviving prisoners were transferred to Camp Cabanatuan and those who survived that camp were liberated in the US Army Rangers famous raid which successfully liberated all remaining prisoners from under the noses of the Japanese.
The American memorial cross has been relocated to the P.O.W. Museum at Andersonville, GA. The remains of the fallen American prisoners (USA, USAAF, USMC, USN) were re-interred at Fort William McKinley, near Manila, or, at the request of next of kin, in cemeteries throughout the United States.
After the station closure, sometime after 1989, the northern half of the former naval radio station, became a civilian residential development. And, on December 7, 1991, a portion of the southern section of the base was established as the Capas National Shrine, by Philippine President Corazon Aquino. The Capas National Shrine is located where the S-500 transmitting tower stood, and near where 26,000 Filipino prisoners died.
If you are interested in adding to this website please contact me by email or phone: Leroy Jones (Roy)
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A Very Special Keepsake
Richard Evans had two of these patches made by a Filipino civilian Technician, F. P. Del Rosario, who worked on base at Capas. Del Rosario also had a tailor shop in Balibago and could make custom patches. A really great and rare keepsake from duty at Capas!
Links Of Interest
USNRS Bago Bantay
POW Camp O'Donnell
Photos Contributed by USNRF Personnel