Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rest and Recreation

Some time ago I wrote about the R&R flights that brought troops from Vietnam to Taipei.  But Taipei certainly wasn't the only place for these getaways.  Popular spots included Honolulu, Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, Manila, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney.

I found a 1967 Time Magazine article titled, "Recreation-Five Day Bonanza."  It provides a great overview of the entire R&R program, how it worked and where the more popular destinations were.

I was a little surprised to read that troops arriving in Taipei were supposedly advised to "keep out of the buses or you may lose your wallet."  Though these flights ended before I arrived in Taipei, I don't recall any problems like that during 1973-74.  There was the occasional burglary, but I never heard about anyone being robbed or having their wallets stolen.

Anyway, it's an interesting article that provides a good overview of the R&R flights.


Bill-USACC said...

I was one of the lucky ones to visit Taipei on R&R in early 71.
I stayed at the Kings Hotel and visited Green Lake, played golf as Tamsui, the beach at Camp MCauley, and of course enjoyed the clubs.

Interestingly enough I got an assignment to Grass Mtn in early 73and much had changed by that time. Not sure the Kings Hotel was still in operation? The R&R center was closed. Does anyone know where it was? Maybe at the Sung Shan AB? Many of the clubs had closed and the Grand Hotel was being rebuilt.

Don't remember bout the comment of keeping off the bus, I do remember meeting a tailor when I arrived and ordering a suit and shirt.

I also went to Sydney on R&R and couldnt tell you which city I liked more.

I hope others write about their experience.


gene said...

About two years ago, on a visit to Hualien’s Pine View Hostel, I read that Hualien was used by American from Viet-Nam for R & R. Being stationed in Viet-Nam (68-70) during that time frame I had never head Hualien was an R & R location. I was also stationed at CCK 69-74 and had traveled to Hualien many times and had never heard about it either. I never say any American there when in the city. There may have been a possibility that it would be made one in the future.
I took 3 R & R’s to Taiwan during my Viet-Nam tours and traveled to Taiwan each time. I remember one time very distinctly the R & R center was at Sun Shan Airport and the first female I met was an ex girlfriend from Tainan who worked in the Magombo club as a coat checker. She now worked at the R & R center.

Anonymous said...

I bought a work of fiction, titled "Rose, Rose, I Love You", author: Wang Chen-ho. It was a humorous look at Hualien, and the efforts of locals to make Hualien an R&R attraction:

"At the prospect of fleecing a shipload of lusty and lonely American soldiers, a Taiwanese village loses all perspective - and common sense. The local high school English teacher convinces the owners of the four major brothels in town to enlist his services in teaching the prostitutes some useful English phrases. But his plans soon spiral out of control. This irreverent novel by one of Taiwan's best-known writers is both a masterpiece of fiction and a vivid reflection on Taiwanese identity under the impact of Western culture."

My wife had traveled to Hualien with a girl friend when she was a high school student in Taipei, and she recalls taking a train to its teminus, a town called Suoau (as close as I can to anglicize the name). From there they took a bus the rest of the way (one along a road that clung precipitously to the cliff) to Hualien. It's quite a story of two high school girls looking for one girl's uncle, and finding themselves in a rather sensitive military site.

Anyhow, the book is a humorous look at efforts of the rather backward town (at that time) to better its economic situation by creating an R&R site for visiting Vietnam soldiers. Of course Hualien is where beautiful Taroko Gorge is located, which was attractive a site as any, but there is another rather obvious attraction to battle-weary men. It is the background of the book. Haulien had also a port, so the attraction may have been enhanced by attracting ships of the Navy.

Maybe that is how the rumor of the town being an R&R spot made its appearance. The book is available via