U.S. Naval Station Sangley Point
Republic of the Philippines (1948-1971)
A School Opens At Sangley
The story of the dependent school at Sangley Point begins after the return of the U.S. Navy to the Philippines, and to Sangley, in 1945. In anticipation of the possible allied invasion of the Japanese mainland, an 8000 foot runway was constructed, along with the associated air operations and maintenance facilities. The invasion never took place, but Sangley’s importance as a support facility for the Seventh Fleet continued to grow. So did its complement of Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, and civilian personnel.
As the number military personnel at Sangley grew, so did the need to provide accommodations and facilities for the dependents that would ultimately accompany them. Not the least of these facilities, of course, would be a school. So, a group of Quonset huts was designated, and in August of 1948 the first dependent’s school was opened at Sangley Point! At first, the school was comprised of grades 1-7 and only 65 students. But, as the number of dependents increased the school began to grow, eventually adding a kindergarten and the 8th, 9th, and 10th grades. Ultimately, in 1963, the Bureau of the Navy added 11th and 12th grades.
The school was comprised of a series of Quonset huts linked together with a central corridor. The original buildings were constructed on concrete piers with wooden floors, but the newer ones on the eastern end were built on concrete slabs. All the buildings, however, were metal Quonset huts. The entire school grounds was enclosed by a fence made primarily of Marston matting, an interlocking, metal construction material used to construct emergency or temporary landing strips!
It Gets A Name
And, yet, as the school grew it remained nameless for more than ten years! Then, in 1959 a contest was held among the students to name their own school! The prize of a U.S. Savings Bond went to Jackie Newell(’56-’59) for choosing a name which commemorated the American naval hero of the Revolutionary War, John Paul Jones. In 1967, JPJ came under the supervision of the Air Force and was incorporated into the District II, Pacific Area, DODDS. In March of the next year, it was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. By now, there were 650 students at JPJ from kindergarten to the 12th grade; ten times the number that was first enrolled in 1948! By 1970, that number would swell to 690. Plans were in the works for the construction of a new school when official word came on December 10,1970, that Naval Station Sangley Point was to terminate operations as a U.S. facility.
Hectic and chaotic days followed that fateful announcement. Things would never be the same at Sangley. Everyone began to pack up and ship everything to the States or to other military facilities. Robberies and burglaries became commonplace as criminal elements attempted to get what they could before it was all gone. A Marine officer on his way home from Vietnam was killed when a robbery attempt at the American Express office ended in gunfire. Students and teachers at JPJ, only a block away, had to remain in the classrooms until the incident was over.
Finally, on June 30, 1971, after almost 23 years of service, John Paul Jones School was officially closed. The very next day Naval Station Sangley Point changed status from active to inactive. What followed was sixty days of frantic activity as everything that could be stripped out, disconnected, or dismantled was shipped out. Amidst all of this chaos, some shipments were lost or stolen. Lost or destroyed, also, were the JPJ school records. As a result, many graduating seniors had difficulty entering colleges and universities.
Then, on September 1,1971, Sangley Point was officially turned over to the Philippine government.