Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy (Western) New Year to All!

I just want to wish everyone a very happy and successful new year.  I am especially thankful for all the friends I've met by way of this blog during the past two and a half years (more than thirty-six thousand hits so far!).

Many thanks to all of you for your interest in the US Taiwan Defense Command, the people who worked there, as well as the surrounding military compound, none of which remain there today.  I'm pleased to have been able to document some of that history -- with lots of help from others -- and I'm looking forward to even more stories and photographs during the upcoming year.  If you've been meaning to join the conversation but just haven't gotten around to it, why not drop me a note?  My email address is at the top right corner of this page.

Warmest regards to all,

Don Wiggins
Illinois
USTDC, 1973-1974

Friday, December 18, 2009

Taiwan Medals Recently Awarded to US Military

Vincent A. sent me the following article from the China Times:

Taiwan honors members of US Armed Forces

The Ministry of National Defense presented roughly 600 medals to members of the United States Armed Forces Dec.14, in recognition of the help and support given to Taiwan in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot.
Approximately 10 representatives from the U.S. Armed Forces attended the ceremony, as did William A. Stanton, director of the American Institute in Taiwan.
“We would like to offer you our great thanks for your magnanimous assistance, given as if to a brother,” said Kao Hua-chu, minister of national defense.
The 600 medals, which carried the words “In commemoration of the Typhoon Morakot rescue operations,” were handed out to all those who participated in the search and rescue operations.
Close to 500 navy personnel were on board the USS Denver, an amphibious transport dock stationed off the coast of Taiwan during the humanitarian mission, said Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who also attended the ceremony.
Other medal recipients included members of the U.S. Pacific Command and the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Military personnel stationed in Japan, representatives of AIT, as well as members of the U.S. Defense Department were also given medals, Lin added.
One officer from the Pentagon made singular contributions to the Aug. 16-17 rescue operations, said Lin. He did not sleep for four straight days, because he had to keep in touch with the U.S. State and Defense departments by day, and at night he had to coordinate rescue operations with USPACOM, the Seventh Fleet and AIT.
The medals have a flag of the Republic of China on them. At first the MND considered including a U.S. flag as well, as a symbol of the friendship between the two nations, Lin said. But the MND thought it would be too sensitive to do so, and in the end decided against it.
“I am sure all the officers and military personnel who wear these medals will feel great pride that they participated in such a noble cause,” the legislator said.
Taiwan and the United States broke off diplomatic relations 30 years ago, and yesterday was the first time since then that Taiwan has ever given any medals to members of the U.S. military. The invitations to the American military personnel were given in secret.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

U-2, Part II

A huge hat tip to Bill M., who pointed me to this link.

It's an article by General Hua, whom I wrote about yesterday, about the Black Cat Squadron.  The article originally appeared in Power History in 2002. It goes into much greater detail about the ROCAF pilots who flew the U-2 "weather reconnaissance" aircraft.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Incident at Cortez

This remarkable story is a little off-topic for this blog, but it involves a U-2 spy plane, a pilot from the Republic of China, the US Air Force, and an incident in a small city in Southwest Colorado fifty years ago. I never heard the story until today when I received a note from Lloyd Evans at the Taiwan Veterans Badge of Honor Association.

The captivating Cold War saga centers on then Major Hsichan Mike Hua ROCAF (Ret), an intrepid Taiwan pilot who landed his disabled CIA U-2 at the Cortez, Colorado, airfield the night of August 3, 1959. General Hua returned to Cortez this past August on the anniversary date of his flight to speak at the observance held in his honor.

The general and his wife prepared a video Christmas card this year that includes the complete story of how he ended up at the controls of the U-2 and the circumstances surrounding his unscheduled visit to Colorado. It's a fascinating bit of history that I'd heard nothing about. The video is several minutes long but it's well worth taking the time to watch. You can view it HERE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Recent View of the USTDC Neighborhood

One of the photos that Kent sent to me after his last Taipei trip was this one. You're looking toward the west on Min Zu East Road, and at the end of the block is Zhong Shan North Road where you would turn right to the HSA East and West Compounds.

You can see the yellow sign on the corner of the intersection that was the Caves Bookstore where you could buy very inexpensive copies of books, tapes and records. They were, of course, pirated copies in those days, not the originals. It seems to me the rule was that you could take one copy of each title with you when you returned to the States without a problem but you couldn't take, say, several copies of the same novel.

Just back this direction on the left side of the street is where the Linkou Club Annex was located when I was there, and just a little further back this way was the Linkou Hotel, a small hotel where I stayed for a few days when I first arrived at USTDC.

It's hard to tell if either of the original structures that housed the Linkou Club and Hotel are still there because of the facades, but the old Caves bookstore building is the same. There are several photos elsewhere in this blog of that building, some from back in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as more recent ones.

Just click on the photo to see it in much higher resolution.

Friday, December 4, 2009

American GIs Return to Club 63

Okay, so it's not really the Club 63. That place, where many of us spent much of our off duty time, closed its doors in 1979. But the building is still there and today it's The American Club in China.

Kent and several other Taiwan vets returned to Taipei for a visit a few weeks ago and were able to spend a little time at the club. John Quinn sent me these photos of the happy group and some of the food that they enjoyed while there.

I should point out that The American Club is an exclusive (and very expensive, I'm told) private club that does not allow visitors unless they are escorted by a club member. When the group's Taipei trip was being organized several months ago, club management graciously consented to allow them to tour the facility and to gather there for a meal. Individuals visiting Taipei in the future should not expect to be granted access.

John and Kent tell me that the interior of the place has been completely remodeled and looks almost nothing like it did back in the day. I understand that the stag bar building that was located across the parking lot from the main entrance (when I was there) is gone.






Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bridge Construction Sign

Regular contributor John Quinn sent me this link on Google Maps. He wrote, "Here's how the area looks on Google Maps: Chungshan (Hirohito) Bridge Project. Perhaps one of our Chinese friends can interpret what the construction sign says."

Any volunteers?

Here's the image at the link:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hirohito Bridge Pieces

A couple of days ago I asked if anyone had photos of the remains of the old "Hirohito Bridge" that I heard was stored somewhere near the river. I received two responses:

Victor provided a link to this photo.


And Misty sent a link to this photo. As he pointed out, note the "bridge to nowhere" to the right of the bridge pieces. They apparently stopped construction sometime ago and it's looked like this ever since. It would be interesting to know what the story behind it is.