Gulf of Tonkin "Yankee Station" on USS Oriskany CVA-34 & USS Hancock CVA-19

Olongapo City, PI

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Dennis and friends from VA-163 in Bar in Olongapo
No doubt drinking Philippine San Miguel Beer!

Left to Right:  John Basiago, Glen Waltko, Dennis Lund, Jack Sasek


The Good Times Roll  By Jim Lea Stripes Staff Writer    Nobody with a gram of integrity can say the 94-year relationship between American and the Philippines has been an ever-smooth ride. Especially in the last two years or so when the biggest natural disaster in centuries compounded resurgent terrorism and political gunslinging, there has been some corduroy road that has dealt misery to Filipinos and Americans alike.A lot of geopolitical mud has been tracked across the Fil-Am stage, and assorted carpetbaggers, rogues and scoundrels on both sides have popped up now and then. But no relationship is single strata, and while this one may have had potholes and quicksand bogs on the international level, the story was a lot different at the grassroots. There, it has been a non-stop love affair — Filipinos the charmers and Americans the charmed. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Yankee sailors,Marines, airmen and soldiers have pulled tours or made port calls in the PI since the U.S. Asiatic Fleet first dropped anchor in Manila Bay in 1898.  When they left, a goodly number spent much of the rest of their careers trying to get back. Manydid return, declared it their personal Nirvana and never left again. There are a lot of reasons. East is east, Kipling observed, and west is west — but the twain came awfully close to meeting here. The culture shock was softer than anywhere else in Asia. The living was sweet and easy, the scenery spectacular, the sunrises magnificent, the sunsets unforgettable.Climate helped. It's hard to hate a place where most days are long, warm and bright. And, of course, the cost of living was a big factor. The PI always has fit the GI's budget, and it's perhaps the only place in the world — surely the only place inAsia — where a military retirement check pays for retirement, and leaves change. The people of the Philippines account for the lion's share of its allure, though. Yanks found them friendly, hospitable, easy to laugh even in the clutch of unbelievable adversity, resilient, romantic, fun-loving and possessed of a sense of humor more western than Oriental. On a personal level, they have proven over the years to be stalwart companions and good and true friends. Like in the summer of 1967 when the carrier USS Forrestal staggered into Subic Bay after blowing up off the coast of Vietnam — still smoking, fire and rescue parties still being called away almost by the hour. THE PEOPLE OF OLONGAPO opened their arms to sailors dazed by their brush with the reaper, offering them sincere welcome home and comfort — and food and drink and a lot of "I prayed God would keep you safe." Tens of thousands of Fil-Am relationships have added a Filipino bloodline to American families over the years. That many of those unions beganwith a bar fine doesn't matter. The end justified the means. Duty in the PI has given rise to an unmatched horde of sea stories and barracks yarns — more outrageous and more of them than have come from any other American-Asian relationship.Some are true. Others — mainly those that begin, "Now this is no BS ..." — are suspect. Still others either are blatant fiction or have been so embellished with each retelling that barely a kernel of fact remains. Most are profane. Many are woven around the habitues of and adventures planned and capers plotted in the bars, clubs and discos of Olongapo, Angeles, Subic City and the back streets of Manila. No similar temples of carnality anywhere were more imaginative — in decor and offerings — A Clark Air Base sergeant and a group of dancers from Manila enjoy memorable or just plain fun.There was the place in Manila in the early '70s with a jukebox whose newest record was Nat King Cole's "Red Sails in the Sunset" and a handful of pretty hostesses who invited customers to a game of chess. The single rule of play was that customers who won the game also won an evening with the charmer who lost. Customers seldom won — but they played again and again and again. THERE WERE OTHER PLACES, like the Nipa Hut with its "flying saucer" that dropped from the ceiling to whisk a load of eager volunteers away to a totally profane Planet of the Apes. Less flamboyant but no less fun were the Blue Max, the Happy Medium, Adam & Eve, the Monkey's Eye, Aurora's, the Beachcomber, the Tropicana, theEast End, the Fire Empire and a thousand more. Some were world class in their field — like Pasay City's Red Rooster, as legendary as Vientiane's White Rose and Seoul's Ranch and Green Door. All those spicy slices of tenderloin even had their own anthem, or so many a 7th Fleet or 13th Air Force bon vivant thought since it was heard so often and for so many years — "Black is black/I want my baby back."  But all the stories aren't about bars and bar people. There are those about sailors so eager for the good times that surely were about to roll that they didn't heed warnings from authorities and "Sea Daddies" alike not to exchange greenbacks or pesos with sidewalk entrepreneurs — until they discovered that the Japanese occupation currency they received in trade had not been the coin of the realm since 1945. There was the social disease medic in Olongapo in the '60s who. many sailors patronized to avoid the possible liberty curtailment lining up at sickcall might mean — until they found that those painful shots in the butt were injections of hair cream, not penicillin.There were the awesome parties, like those in the bar at the Cubi Officers Club during the Vietnam War years when a house rule was that the bar would not close as long as there was a drink on it. Carrier pilots — who in a six-month tour flewdouble or triple the number, of sorties their landbased Air Force counterparts did in a year — made the best of that.Often, a slightly zonked lieutenant just in from Yankee Station — and damned proud to be back in a Philippine piece — made his way to the bar just before normal closing time to order, "A thoushan' stingers, pleash."There was the Great Calesa Derby when, after many rounds of San Miguel, some Yanks commandeered a couple of the quaint little horsecarts that provide transport in many Philippine towns and raced through the streets of Angeles. One, thestory goes, ran a gate to Clark Air Base to elude, successfully, a swelling crowd of pursuing authorities. The cart was concealed in brush and the horse was unofficially inducted into the driver's squadron. Billeted in an upstairs storeroom in the airman's  dorm, the steed found well-fed, well-watered surcease from his carriage trade labors — until a sharp-nosed first shirt detected the aroma of manure. Storytellers say horse and cart were returned intact to their owner, together with a monetary donation from the troops involved to repair the small glitch in Fil-Am relations. Not all the. stories are so irreverent as these. Some are poignant — like that of the last Japanese commander of Clark who returns each year with a band of survivors to talk to the souls of comrades left behind and to visit two Philippine schools they support — and others are downright sad. ALL ARE STRUNG TOGETHER with the fragrance of a sampaguita lei in the memories of the people who lived them. They chronicle a "Those were the days . . . we thought they'd never end" Time that is fast running out.  Tlie U.S. government has said that after an American finger snaps off the lights at Subic Bay for the last time this fall there still will be a U.S. military presence in the Southeast Pacific. That has not been clearly defined, yet, but it's certain things never will be the same again. Over the past 45 years, many of the stories of the Fil-Am experience have been published in the pages of Pacific Stars and Stripes. Some of them — about people, events and places — are here, along with the reminiscences of Americans who know the place well. Retelling these tales is a way of saying, "Mahal na mahal kita PI," and — very sadly for a lot of people — "Adyios." You'll understand that if you've been to the PI. If you haven't, ask someone who has. BYE-BYE, PI was produced and published by the staff of Pacific Stars and Stripes to commemorate the end of the permanent American military presence in the Philippines. April 1, 1992 Copies are available at PS&S bookstores and most exchanges, or by sending a check or money order for $1, plus $1 for postage and handling, for each copy to Pacific Stars and Stripes,  Attn: Periodicals Department, Unit 45002 APOAP 96337-0110 Pacific Stars and Stripes Editor: Jim Lea Layout: Mike Hagburg Senior Writer: Hal Drake Writers: Tim Hanson, Dave Schad, Jim Lea and Pacific Stars and Stripes Correspondents who have passed through the Philippines since 1945. Front Cover: Goodbye at Subic/Dave Schad Back Cover:  undown over Manila Bay/Tim Hanson

Tee Shirts commemorating last of Americans
Leaving when Subic Bay PI shut down for U.S. Navy!

Here are the guys from VA-163 AT Electronics Shop
getting down at the East Inn Club in Olongapo City, PI

Left to Right:   Bert Mahoney, John Basiago, Glen Harpel, Dennis Lund, Tony Megashko, John Lambuth

Flew into Clark Air Force Base, Angeles City, PI
Oct. 24, 1966 and then took bus into Subic Bay

This postcard Dennis bought while in Subic Bay
in October of 1966, while waiting to join VA-163

The East Inn Club of Olongapo was "Off Limits"
This could not keep the men from the upstairs of above building, dance floor, band, and bar!!

Delia from the Hong Kong Club, Olongapo City

Dianna and Dennis at the Queen Bee Club on
Magsaysay St. in Olongapo City. First Filapino Girlfriend!!

What a Boot Camper I was back then, Ha!

Dennis and Dianna again at the Queen Bee Club 1967

Dennis and Dianna again! Had crush on her for
two West Pac cruises. Olongapo women are Beautiful . . .

Priscilla Reyes wrote Dennis out on the Carrier!
She worked at the Skylight Club on Grande Island

Dennis and friend from Oro Club in downtown
Olongapo, PI. Never a loss for pretty women!!

Picture of Dennis, Dianna at Queen Bee Club, 1968

Map of the former Cubi Pt. area including Airstrip
Subic Bay includes Carrier Pier and Dungaree Beach



Map of Olongapo City, Philippines
Queen Bee Club, Oro Club are just before corner
of Magsaysay, where it joins with Rizal, right hand side!!
This street leads to the East Inn Club !!
Hong Kong Club is halfway down on right side of Rizal!!

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