Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Martyrs' Shrine, Part 1

Les Duffin came across some 1971 slides that he shot at the Martyrs' Shrine which was near the river, just past the Club 63. I'll post a few of them today and the rest tomorrow.





Monday, September 22, 2008

Maxing Out Ration Cards

I had a nice note from Steve Segall a few days ago. Steve was assigned to USACC from 1974 to 1976 and he had a humorous story to tell about the Embassy Shop piece I wrote back in August:

I enjoy reading your website with stories and photos of Taiwan. I was stationed with the Army and worked out of the USACC Headquarters at the HSA compound in Taipei from June 1974 to June 1976. Bill Thayer was in charge of Personnel at the time and a wonderful and wise fellow he was.

I unfortunately got hooked up with a young lady who took my Embassy Shop card, bought expensive liquor, and sold it for many times the amount on the black market. She also maxed out my cigarette rations. I didn't realize what was going on until Colonel Ashby and the Sergeant Major checked ration cards during a troop formation and noticed that mine were maxed out. I should mention that I neither smoked nor drank.

The Colonel ordered the Sergeant Major to have me see the Alcohol Abuse Sergeant at headquarters every week to be swayed from my wayward ways. I would go every week and deny that I ever drank alcohol and every week the sergeant would tell me that I must admit my drinking problem.

I enjoy telling the story about my alcohol abuse classes to friends and family members since they know I never indulged.

Steve Segall USACC TDC and TME Microwave 1974-1976
Great story, Steve! Thanks for sharing it. I rarely used my liquor ration card, but I'll bet there were a lot of other guys who found themselves in situations similar to yours.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time Out

I'm going to be out of town for a few days for one of the following purposes:
  • Piloting the space shuttle
  • Slipping back and forth across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border
  • Dancing in Swan Lake
  • Traveling halfway across the country to spoil the grandkids
See you in a few days.

Don

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kinmen Detail

***UPDATE***
George pointed me to this photo that was on Wikipedia. He says that the original photo that I posted here was probably a patriotic reply to Chiang's original carving, of which there are several.

************

A couple of days ago I posted some 1962 images from Kinmen. One of them showed what appears to be a slab of cement with writing on it. Les commented: "There is a date on the bottom, November 17, 1961, written in Chinese characters, plus another date written in Arabic numerals. That one is sometime in 1960. The rest looks like lots of scribbling. Maybe just graffiti."

Sarj rescanned the photo and cropped it to give a better view of the characters on it. Click on the image to see an expanded version. If you see anything here that you can identify, please leave a comment.

The Passing of a Friend

I think often about the people I knew in Taiwan. Many of them were good friends who could always bring a smile to my face. That same smile returns when I think about them even today.

There were a few people who weren't exactly close friends, of course. It's funny, but today I remember them with a fondness that I suppose comes with the passing of time and the maturity that accompanies it. I like to think that their recollections of me may have undergone the same evolution.

One of the good guys at the US Taiwan Defense Command was Army Lieutenant Colonel Clay Blanton who worked in J-1 from 1973 until 1975. He arrived about the same time I did and I worked for him until the day I left.

He was a mustang who worked his way up through the enlisted ranks which I think helped him understand all sides of many issues. He and I didn't always agree but I believe that we arrived at the right solution most of the time. His job could be difficult sometimes, with pressure coming from many different directions, but he performed it with the utmost professionalism.

I just learned that LTC Blanton passed away last April in Topeka, Kansas. I understand that his next job after Taiwan was as the Senior Army Adviser with the Kansas National Guard, and that's where he decided to retire. He was a product of Texas and Oklahoma and I'm sure that he blended well with the down-to-earth folks of the Sunflower State.

Rest in peace, Colonel. It was an honor to have served with you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

More Kinmen Photos

Back in May I posted several photos from Kinmen, along with some comments about the activities on the island in those days.

Sarj Bloom just sent me four more photos from 1962, all in color. His comments are included:


Here are some more photos of Kinmen taken by PH3 Gallagher who was stationed with me at USTDC. He is the tall thin guy in the first picture. He took these photographs , as you can see by the date stamp, in May 1962.



These are more individuals setting balloons off toward the Mainland as was the thing to do in those days.
Now in this photo I was told that the plane was sent to bring girls and drink for the ROC troops stationed there. You can see a girl exiting the plane with what looks like wine bottles in a basket.
I must have forgotten what this photo is of or what it says. Gallagher must have told me but I just have no idea. Maybe some other who know Chinese can interpret what it says. Maybe it's just Chinese graffiti.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Typhoon!

I've been following the news reports on Typhoon Sinlaku. As I write this on Saturday afternoon, the slow-moving typhoon is dumping rain all over Taiwan, and the forecast is for as much as nine or ten inches of rain by Tuesday.

Here in the States, of course, Hurricane Ike just nailed the Gulf Coast last night, especially the areas in South Texas. That storm, though no longer a hurricane, is projected to hook to the northeast, right up over East-central Illinois (where I happen to be located) and dump five or six inches of rain here. In this part of the country, five or six inches of rain represents a major flooding threat.

None of this is good news, but to sort of keep things in perspective, Sarj just sent me a batch of photographs that were taken somewhere in Taipei, probably sometime in the late 1950s or so. Sarj doesn't know who took these shots or the exact locations, but since some of the faces appear to be American, it seems likely that they're in the general vicinity of USTDC and the HSA compound.








Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sung Shan (Songshan) Airport - Part 2

After receiving some comments about the planes at the airport during the mid-sixties, I thought I'd post some of the other shots that Les provided.

I'm sure that I flew in and out on jet aircraft when I was there in the mid-seventies, but back in 1963 when I flew from San Francisco to Okinawa, it was on a Lockheed Super Constellation -- a propeller-driven aircraft.








Friday, September 12, 2008

Sung Shan (Songshan) Airport

Les Duffin took several photos of Sung Shan Airport back in 1965-1966. All of us were familiar with the place because it was where we began and ended our tours in Taipei.

Some have described the new sights, smells, heat and humidity that they experienced as they stepped off the plane here. I said goodbye to a number of good friends here and said goodbye to other friends when it was my turn to leave.

I understand that the airport handles only domestic flights today. The airport's website can be found here.