Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Memories of 1963-64

Bill Amborn was at TDC during 1963-64 and provided this account of Typhoon Gloria:
I was assigned to TDC from the States and arrived as a PFC in the army in late August 1963.  I was billeted at Yangmingshan first.  I took a few snapshots of the TDC compound during Typhoon Gloria as I was in it those few days.  I just ran across the photos which I'd sent to my parents.

Being the new guy in my unit I was one of three of us to stay in the compound in our little office during the typhoon.  The photointerpreters, part of J2, were downstairs and boy, did we get flooded.  As the water started coming up we put sandbags outside the steel door leading out and sat around and played cards.
Later the water began gushing in above the sandbags and we got concerned about the thousands and thousands of maps we had of all of China and started to remove them from the lower shelves and put them up higher.  While we were casually working on this activity we heard a violent snapping sound and saw that the water pressure had bent the door.  Water was coming in like gang busters.  So we started scurrying as fast as we could bringing all the maps and tons of classified stuff upstairs.  The water kept coming up. Then it became obvious we were being weighed down by our fatigues so we stripped to underwear and continued.  Some of the duty people upstairs thought we were mad men.  Then the power went out and we had a few flashlights, etc, by which we kept carrying the equiment and papers upstairs.
In the end, before we had to stop, we were up to our shoulders in that wonderful, muddy water.  We saved everything needed to keep us operating after the clean-up and got the normal thanks for a job well done (nada).
Then the C-rations ran low and we had to go to one of the warehouses to get them.  So we peons stripped down to our scivvies and formed a line of guys to walk wherever we were led.  That way if the first guy fell in a hole or something, the second guy would know where it was.  Like walking in a mine field.  We got our boxes and carried them like you see African ladies carrying items - on our heads - because the water was up to our necks.  And so we traipsed back across.  During the walk back guys started talking about all the poisonous snakes and wondering (a) could snakes swim and (b) what's that over there?
Since stressful situations bring out the best and worst in us, one could expect being stuck in a building for a bit would do just that.  Sure enough, one of the officers was found to be stealing all the C-ration cookies.  That really got some of the guys hot and required some higher rank to assure us cookies would be equitably distributed.
Like everyone who went to Taiwan, I have a ton of memories, but the strongest one still is of walking over the bridge from TDC to Club 63 with Billy Cowan (Air Force) and Larry Dugan (Navy) and Billy telling us that Kennedy had just been shot.
Bill Amborn
8/63-5/64 USTDC


George said...

First photo: Large building being constructed in the background is The President Hotel.

Second Photo: Foreground (Basketball Court), Middle (Softball Field), Background (Day Room, Barracks, and FASD Mess Hall).

Nice photos Bill.

sarj said...

So another guy that went through this storm. We in the photo lab didn't have to stay there but we put all the classified stuff on the top shelf of the safe and rode out the storm at home. I'm sure your office was almost to the ceiling. I tried to find photos of the compound that I sent in here that shows some guys on the front steps...maybe one is you. Maybe Don can give you the link to check it out.
This was the first time that the compound flooded and one of our guys car was under water as all of them were.

sarj said...

Bill I found the link check out the first photo and see if that's you on the steps.

Zhuxiu said...

As part of the Naval Security Group Detachment stationed at Lin Kou listening post, I remember Typhoon Gloria well. Our living quarters were in a quonset hut, and we quickly learned that it was safer (and drier) in the security work spaces. So, pretty much the whole detachment of some twenty guys relocated there to "weather" the storm. For days afterwards, you could see personal items laid out in the sun to dry out...books. clothing, etc. Of course, we did not have to deal with the flooding that guys in town had to contend with. For someone who had only arrived on Taiwan in June 1963, this was an intense introduction to typhoons.

Bill said...

A couple of other items...
I erred in my dates, I was there from 8/63-5/65.
On the side of the TDC compound fronting that canal or whatever it was with the raised roadway, not on the Chung Shan Pei Lu side, me and my buddies went up on that road when the wind was blowing like mad and, leaning into it with panchos extended let the wind slide us backwards along the very slippery surface of the road. No one else was out then, just the crazy GIs.
Later when I got married and applied for local housing, the rule was that you could only get second story apartment housing. They had too many claims from Gloria.
One of the NCO's I knew had all his household goods in storage, having just arrived, and the warehouse was completely flooded. It was distressing for him and his wife.

marc said...

There are a few more MAAG flood pictures on this site:

Likewise, I remember seeing more in the Life Magazine picture collection.

p.s. I think you mislabeled your link Don, it says Time Mag and should be Life Mag.