Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Sunday, September 25, 2011

R&R in Taipei

Thanks to Bill T. for sending me this 1967 news article:

At dawn and around dusk every day for weeks, two big Pan-American World Airways planes have been arriving at Taipei Airport, bringing war weary United States Servicemen from Vietnam.

After a quick passage through Chinese customs and immigration, the Americans board military buses and speed to Taipei.  In the city, at a military reception area called the Sea Dragon Club, they get a brief talk on local customs, exchange some United States dollars for local currency and disperse to hotels of their choice.

Thereafter they are on their own in this city of 1.5 million for five days of rest and recreation.  R and R, as it has come to be called, at a destination of his choice outside of Vietnam has become a perquisite of every American military man in Vietnam once during his tour there.

When Americans in groups from Vietnam complete their five days they assemble again at the Sea Dragon Club for the trip back to the war.

From a small beginning two years ago, the program has grown to a total of some 5,000 Americans every month, a figure that reflects not only the American military build-up in Vietnam but also the growing popularity of Taipei as a leave city.

It now ranks third, just behind Bangkok and Honolulu, as a center for Americans in Vietnam.  They like it because it has good hotel and recreation facilities, the people are friendly, the climate is cool, the shopping is reasonably good and the post exchanges offer most of the facilities a soldier wishes for.

The Americans from Vietnam do much of their buying at post exchanges, but it is estimated each man spends an average of an additional $185, a figure that gives Nationalist China a monthly income of about one million dollars from the military visitors at the present rate of arrivals.

The program here is part of the American presence on Taiwan, which grows steadily despite the tapering off of United States military aid to Nationalist China and the decline in American military advisers and aid specialists.

Because of the war, there is also a major logistical operation at the Ching Chuan Kang air base, some 200 miles south of here.  C.C.K., as the base is called, has become the biggest permanent United States military installation on Taiwan, with more than 4,000 men.

Transport planes and storage facilities provide air logistical support to United States military units throughout the Western Pacific area.

There are no United States combat units on Taiwan, but the United States Military Assistance Advisory Group, and the Taiwan Defense Command, a United States planning and housekeeping agency, account for about 9,000 Americans.

Some 13,000 American military men and their dependents and civilian Americans and their dependents in United States Government and private employment, account for an American community that has grown to roughly 27,000.

Most are concentrated in Taipei, and the outlook here is for still further growth.  Housing is being prepared for approximately 250 wives and other dependents of civilians engaged in the economic aid and rehabilitation program in Vietnam.

Taiwan is regarded as a friendly haven in which families barred from living in Vietnam can locate near enough to permit occasional reunions.

Already the Taipei American School, with an enrollment of more than 2,000, is the largest of its kind overseas and seems destined to grow.  Four other schools here and at cities farther south take in more than a thousand additional American youngsters.

4 comments:

Taipei Air Station said...

Great article.

As the word got out in RVN about R&R in Taiwan, more and more guys signed up. We have to remember, there were probably many more GIs wanting to come but were turned away because the planes were full.

Does anyone remember, how many planes came in and out each day?

titojohn said...

In 1971 I was assigned to a Navy unit in-country Vietnam. As soon as I was eligible for R&R I requested Taipei. I had previously served two tours at USTDC, so I was anxiously wanting to return to Taipei. I arrived in Taipei on December 23, 1971, and had a wonderful/memorable Christmas with Chinese friends that I had made during my previous tours. As far as I can remember there was only one plane leaving Tan Son Nhut AB for Taipei on the day I left and returned to/from Taipei R&R.
John Quinn

Taipei Signal Army said...

If you would like to see a picture taken at the back of the Sea Dragon Club, you are invited to view our May 9, 2011 posting on the R&R Center. It's fitting that Kent left a comment as he made a trip down memory lane with his video recorder and found the location of the Sea Dragon Club.

We are at http://TaipeiSignalArmy.blogspot.com

John

Anonymous said...

Question: Does anybody remember photos in Time or Life magazine depicting Taiwan R&R activities during the US-Vietnam War? An acquaintance remembers a photo of naked women, but I haven't been able to find it in their archives.