Gozar sunset with Radar Domes


On July 1st. 1957 the Philippines government started construction of the Gozar Air station, on top of Mt. Ambulong, in Lubang Island. The radar installation incorporated was designed to guard the central south western airspace of the Philippines.

Gozar AS (Air Station) became the main radar check-in facility for military aircraft moving between (from/to) Southeast Asia (Saigon, Danang, etc), and Clark Air Force Base, north of Manila.

Guard outside the main entrance gate of Gozar Air Station

A road was built from the main highway of Lubang to Gozar by the engineering battalion of the Philippine's army.

The radar station was named after Lt Jose Gozar, a WWW II PAAC Pilot, who is said to have been captured and killed by the Japanese.

The Gozar Air Station started it's operations on November 16, 1961. The 582nd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (ACWS), established on November 1st 1957, was assigned to Gozar.

Colonel Romulo Soriano, who commanded the station in the late 1960's, requested the Philippine Air Force (PAF) authorities to buy some land as a housing estate for the soldiers.

The Village formed was called "Soriana Village" but later the name became shortened to Sorville.

Electricity was supplied to the village residents from the generating plant at the air base.

On March 10 1974 the last Japanese straggler left on Lubang Island, Lt. Hiroo Onoda, surrendered to PAF Chief General Jose Rancudo at Gozar Air Station.


I contacted Bing Higgins and Alan Zealley in Sept. 2014 and they have generously forwarded some photos of their time on Lubang Island. The images forwarded by them have made a most significant addition to the information on the history of Gozar that was previously available on this page.

Both Bing and Alan together with four other USAF personnel were posted to Gozar to act as advisers and trainers for the Air Defense Radar site and maintain the communications equipment.

During the Vietnam War, (1954Ė75), men were drafted in America to fill vacancies in the armed forces which could not be filled through voluntary means.

Alan Zealley was called up to serve and usually conscripts did 2 years with the US Army or the US Marines. Alan volunteered to serve for 4 years to obtain a better assignment. He left with the rank of Sergeant.

Bing Higgins left the active duty Air Force after 6 years. He served in the part time Air National Guard for another 16 years, and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Of particular interest, is that in part of his civilian career, he spent one year as Project Manager leading a team that installed bank computer systems, and software, at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), in Manila.

Reference: HISTORY OF LUBANG by Rudy Candelario - translated into English by Benjamin Walata. (http://occidentalmindorohistory.googlepages.com/historylubang)

In 2010 The Arroyo administration wanted Lubang as a tourist destination and planned to convert parts of the Gozar Air Station on Mount Ambulong as a world-class hotel complex to cater to tourists.

The air station, at an elevation of some 1,300 feet above sea level, is the second highest in the country, next to the Pasuquin Air Station in Ilocos Sur. (Paredes Air Station) Only some 30 soldiers are left manning the facilities since its radars broke down in the late 90ís.

Reference: (http://bulatlat.com/main/2010/02/20/lubang's-pride/)

The Philippines is fast tracking the acquisition of air defense surveillance radars from Israelís Elta Systems so it can monitor intrusions in its air space.

The project worth P2.68 billion ($62.85 million*) will fund the installation of radar systems in Palawan (Mt. Salakot) to cover the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) and old radar sites Lubang Island in Occidental Mindoro (Gozar Air Station) and Pasuquin Air Station in Ilocos Norte (Paredes Air Station). The first radar system is expected to be installed 22 months after the notice to proceed is issued and the letter of credit is signed ... The radar systems will cover a 350-nautical mile radius.

Reference: (www.rappler.com/nation/62841-philippines-air-defense-radar) - July 9, 2014

Note: The Letter of Credit was opened in January 2016 so the delivery of the first Radar will occur about November 2017. The second and third Radars will be delivered 6 and 12 months later respectively.

The radome covering the search radar on the right was dismantled during January 2015.

Lt.Jose 'Pepe' Gozar

On December 10, 1941, a Japanese bomber formation flying over Zablan field, Manila, was intercepted by the Philippine Army Air Corps flying obsolete Boeing P-26 (Peashooter) pursuit aircraft.

During the attack, 3rd Lieutenant Jose P. Gozar, United States Army Air Forces, attempted to ram Japanese aircraft when his guns jammed. After a series of such maneuvers, it is reported that he forced the Japanese plane to fly away without further attacks on the air field.

Lt. Gozar was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism. President Roosevelt ordered the decoration in reply to reports from the battlefields by General MacArthur. Gozar died later in the war.

On October 26, 1955, the Bureau of Posts honored Lt. Gozar with the issue of a set of two airmail stamps engraved by Waterlow and Sons of England.

Reference: (http://philphilately.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/1955-lt-jose-gozar.html)

583rd ACWS unit stationed at Paranal Air Station

Patches ACWS and PAF WW2

... Israelís Elta Systems will be providing the Philippines with three air surveillance radars, worth PhP2.68 billion, plus a freebie radar for the country to effectively monitor air intrusions in the West Philippine Sea. These radars will be installed in Palawan, Lubang in Mindoro, and Pasuquin in Ilocos Norte.

Reference: Posted in http://www.angmalaya.net/nation/ October 8, 2014 by Iara Jolo

An FPS_6 installation

AN-FPS-2A Radome
Specifications ELM-2288 Radar set
ELM-2288 radar set
Inside the base of a Radome at Paredes Air Station
Inside the weatherproof dome at Paredes Air Station
Looking North towards the Gozar air Station
Northern end of Gozar Air Station

Top: Long building behind PAF enlisted quarters is PAF Officers Quarters and also used for visiting officials (military and civilian). The very small building above in top left this is the newly built PAF Officers Club
      Bottom Left: PAF UHF/VHF antennas and its 2 equipment buildings, a square flat roof one near antennas and a longer pitched roof one next to it.
       Bottom Middle: The wooden building just left of trailers is the USAF Communications Group quarters and a room for our resident Filipino cook ("Ramon") who was employed by the U S Government.
       Next to the 2 USAF trailers is the rounded USAF quonset hut for our kitchen and dayroom. The old building to right of this was the very old PAF enlisted quarters which was dilapidated and unused then.


Layout of Gozar Air Station

(Note: Alan Zeally has informed me that the 2 pitched roof buildings left of trailers were torn down after I left and a better building constructed for the USAF Communications Group quarters and room for cook.)
Note: Quote is from Bing Higgins.

Aerial view of Gozar Radar station
Phillippine Air Force Helicopter at Gozar

Our supplies came in weekly, weather permitting, from helicopter from Clark Air Force Base. It would make a weekly run from Clark to Subic naval base, the US Embassy in Manila and Lubang Island. The helicopter would bring our food, drinking water in Jerry cans, mail, and five movies, 1 R-rated, 3 PG-rated and 1 G-rated: -- Bob McBride. (1972-1973)

View towards the East of Gozar Air Station
PAF Helicopter and TACAN equipment in the background
Check Point for Gozar Air Base
Tropospheric Scatter Antenna

Generally up to 32 analogue (4 kHz bandwidth) channels were supplied. Two separate dish antenna (spaced several meters apart) and two separate signals - one horizontally polarized and the other vertically were used. This ensured that at least one signal path was open at any one time. Now largely replaced by satellite communications.
Similarly the TACAN equipment illustrated on the right has been outdated by the use of GPS in aircraft.

Tactical Air Navigation Equipment (TACAN)
TACAN and Tropo-Scatter Aerials

View from Radar Domes of TACAN and TropoScatter Aerials

In the image on the the left can be seen a large building behind the Tropospheric Scatter aerials. "The building housed the actual Tropo communications equipment and Tropo maintenance support.The function of the antennas was for military operations communications (voice/telephone and teletype) between various PAF/USAF base locations in the Philippines." - Bing Higgins

Radar Domes with Power House

Guard Station and Radar Domes
PAF Dining Halland Motor Pool
PAF Officers Club under construction - 1968

Base staff at PAF Officers Club construction site
Alan Zealley at Gozar Air Station - 1968

Opening of PAF Officers Club July 1968
PAF Gymnasium - now Smart Bros communications area.
USAF AC and WS quarters

Old PAF Enlisted quarters
Meal in the Quonset Hut

UHF and VHF Aerial Maintenance
UHF VHF Air to Groung Communications area
Gozar - Skyward, Forward, Onward

A typhoon (Typhoon Konsing) in June (1972) had done major damage to the facility, just before I arrived on station (I spent my first three months of the assignment in Hawaii undergoing training) and for most of the next year repairs were being performed, such as rebuilding the gym. The enlisted quarters on top of the hill from our building had major damage.... Ramon was still our cook, but we added a relative of his, I believe his name was Pauli, as a handyman.... Bob McBride

The concrete block building in the fore ground above is shown below as it was in 1972. (Housing the USAF 848 ACW&S OLAB headquarters)

Old VHF/UHF Transmitter Station - future 'D' Club

1st Lt Bob McBride was assigned to Gozar Air Station out of Wallace Air Station for 13 months (June 1972-July 1973) as the officer in charge (848 ACW&S OLAB).
The converted communications building is shown below, as it was six years later, in 1979

Amenities Building and trailers - 1972
Disco Club and standby generator.

1st. Lieuts. Larry Arnold and Edwin Eiswerth were Air Weapons Controllers at first assigned to Wallace Air Station. They also were sent to to Gozar Air Station on a rotational basis - during 1978/79 - only one person at a time.
Note: Air weapons Controllers are officers who use radar and radios to direct aircraft in an air defense mission. Similar to air traffic controllers.

USAF Office in the concrete block building between the two trailers.

Note: The USAF unit at Gozar was named 848 ACW&S OLAB.

View Eastwards from Gozar Air Station of Ambil Island
Enlisted Mens Quarters
Touring group going to the odservation deckon top of the old PAF enlisted quarters
Communications Buildings including Smart Bros mobile services
Western face of the old PAF enlisted quarters
Communications tower and Chapel at Gozar Air Station
Boeing P-26 fighter aircraft attacking a Japanese bomber

... in November 1940, one year before the start of World War II, the Air Corpsí entire fighter strength in the Philippines consisted of only 28 P-26s. Most of these were destroyed in the first Japanese attacks but two of them, flown by Philippine pilots, became the first American pilots to shoot down Japanese airplanes.

The 6th Fighter Squadron of the newly constituted Philippine Army Air Corps shot down one Mitsubishi G3M bomber, and at least two and possibly three Zeroes, flying Boeing P-26s.

Lt.Jose Gozar - circa 1940

Visiting Stella Maris Nuns at Gozar Air Station

". . . I am very happy to hear that the nuns are enjoying their retirement, I remember how amazed they were with all the modern day creature comforts we had in the Quonset hut and they did not have even electricity or running water. We would fuss when the power or water went down for a while but we just planned things around it. We had emergency food supplies that we lived on during the monsoon season that prevented our supply plane from landing . . ."   Alan Zealley - 6 Feb. 2015

View of Cabra Island from Gozar

On the day we were at Gozar it was difficult to get a good view because of the low cloud level, however these two pictures give an idea of what may be seen.

View of the Port of Lubang at Tilik
Enlisted officers returning to Gozar Air Base fron Edwin Eiswerth's farewell party

"There were less than 6 vehicles on the entire island. That included the three on the PAF site. Very few motorcycles and only electricity for 3 hours a day. The PAF Air Station lost power a lot also. I had my own generator, so many times I had the only lights on at night, on the entire island." - Edwin Eiswerth

The last American posted to Gozar Air Station

Edwin Eiswerth was stationed at Gozar Air Station in 1978-1979.
"I actually had the sorry job of closing the USAF participation at the site. Ramon and Paulie were still working for me at the time. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do is fire them after years of service."

Gozar Air Station Radomes Dec. 2008