Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taiwan All Volunteer Force

I thought some of you might be interested in this item from the US Air Force Personnel Center News Service:

Dec. 18, 2008
Release No. 147

Taiwan Air Force visits AFPC to exchange personnel ideas

by 2nd Lt. Gina M. Vaccaro, Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Members of the Taiwan air force visited the Air Force Personnel Center here Dec. 12 to gain knowledge on how to establish an all-volunteer force.

Fifteen members of the TAF, including Taiwan’s Administrative Deputy Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Yu-Pao Lin and Rear Adm. Chih-lung “Larry” Tan, director general of Taiwan’s Defense Mission in Washington D.C., toured AFPC’s directorates and received overviews on how the Air Force manages the force.

“We were honored and delighted to welcome the delegation to the Air Force Personnel Center,” said Sheila Earle, executive director, AFPC “We were glad to share some of our procedures with them and to learn about some of theirs.”

The TAF officers received briefings on personnel topics including enlisted and officer career cycles, officer force development, rated officer and enlisted retention initiatives, officer and enlisted promotions, Air Force evaluations, Air Force services, and the workings of Airmen and Family Readiness. Participants from both air forces exchanged ideas about how each nation’s procedures are similar or different, with an emphasis on recruiting and management of the force.

“Taiwan is shifting from a conscription force to an all-volunteer force,” the U.S. escort from the American Institute in Taiwan said. “They want to learn how the U.S. Air Force conducts programs for recruiting and management of the force so they can learn from them.”

Prior to their visit to AFPC, the delegation traveled to the U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Washington D.C. and to Fort Knox, Ky., where they met with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

“General Lin was thankful for the kindness of the members of the AFPC team who took time out of their busy schedules to provide detailed briefings and who engaged in an insightful Q and A session in response to the many inquiries from the Taiwan delegation,” a U.S. escort said. “He was impressed with the effectiveness and the efficiency of the U.S. Air Force’s personnel recruiting and retention system. The delegation members identified many ideas that could be adopted in Taiwan.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, General Lin thanked the presenters. “You really did help us and you have made us feel like we are at home here,” he said.

The TAF delegation also visited the Air Force Recruiting Service while on Randolph AFB.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Phantom Regulation

I received a note from Gene Hyden, who was at Taipei Air Station during 1960-1962. His story, however, directly involves USTDC -- and not in a very good way. Here's his story:

My "TDC story" happened in the Spring of 1962. I was a USAF E-4, stationed at Taipei Air Station in the ATF13(P) Intel shop -- the Indications Center -- behind the combination locked door, just down the walkway from General Sanborn's office.

I put in my papers to marry a Chinese National and immediately found myself working in the Motor Pool, which I expected. I also knew that my wife would not be allowed to shop at the PX or commissary according to the TDC regulations. But being a natural-born troublemaker, I did some research and caused some embarrassment for a few high-ranking folks!

I discovered that the all-services regulations absolutely forbade the denial of dependent privileges to any legal dependent of military personnel. It was all extremely clear in the regs. But the TDC regulation was equally clear in denying all PX and commissary privileges to Chinese Nationals married to U.S. servicemen in Taiwan.

So I wrote a to-the-point letter, with copies of all pertinent regulations, and sent it to about a dozen U.S. Senators and Representatives. The "system" for such letters includes a pretty strict time limit for the Congressman to get the letter over to the Pentagon for response...and the Pentagon folks responded quickly...with a statement that the TDC regulation was written "due to an international agreement" between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

Then the Congressmen quickly forwarded the Pentagon responses to me in Taiwan. All except for one: Senator John Tower from Texas. He asked the Pentagon to provide him with a copy of the international agreement. Guess what? There was no such international agreement!"

While all this was going on, I was getting "short," but still using my intelligence training, making contacts at every possible level. My buddy in the TAS Base Commander's office had a buddy in TDC who handled the actual distribution of copies of TDC regulations and changes. They told me that a new regulation was being printed, which ended the denial of PX and Commissary privileges for Chinese Nationals marrying U.S. military personnel!"

Now for the real kicker: The new regulation had already been printed, and was being held, to be distributed after our departure from Taiwan! I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy of the new regulation...which I "filed" with the "old" regulation and copies of all the Congressional correspondence!

So...I can take credit for correcting a nasty situation for all U. S. military personnel who married a Chinese National in Taiwan after the Spring of 1962.

And to all of you: You're more than welcome!

Gene Hyden
Taipei, 1960-62

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Latter Days of USTDC

I’ve mentioned several times that I’d be interested in seeing comments from anyone who was at USTDC during and after the time that President Carter announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with the PRC. I’ve written previously about some of the turmoil during that period, but didn’t have much in the way of eyewitness accounts.

I recently heard from Les Halfhill, who was assigned to Det 3, 7602nd Air Intelligence Group, from early May 1978 to April 1979. Their offices were on the 2nd floor of the TDC building. Here’s his story:

When I arrived in Taipei, I had my ex and my five-year-old daughter with me. We were put up in a “guest house”/hotel just a block or so south of East Compound. I can’t, for the life of me, remember its name. We had a room on the top floor (4th or 5th) and ended up living there for a couple of weeks (maybe even three or four).

One of my earliest strong memories was waking up at around 3am, realizing that there was a small earthquake happening. There were several more while I was there in the guest house. But later during my tour, there were two that each measured 7.6. In one, I was in a taxi and didn’t even feel it, but the other one happened when I was at home. I was sitting on the floor in my living room, and a sound like a train going by started. But of course, there were no train tracks nearby. Just as I started to get up to go look, the quake hit and knocked me back down. Being in a quake is a strange feeling.

One of the most obvious things I noticed those first couple of weeks, as my sponsor took me around to show me the ropes, was how few people there were for the size of the facilities. Whether it was going to the commissary, to a movie at the compound, or the China Seas Club, everything was so quiet, with so few people. I think Shu Lin Kou was closed by then, and a lot of the staff was gone, compared to its peak.

I recall, in those first couple of weeks, going to the Housing Office, while first being told by my sponsor that a bottle of Johnny Walker Red would help get me into Tien Mou quicker. But I didn’t have a car, so I got an apartment within walking distance of East Compound, on Minzu East Road. From the apartment, I would take my daughter for a walk up to the Grand Hotel, then down the hill to a little park next to the China Seas Club, then on to the club for lunch or dinner. We did that regularly.

I was an Air Force E-5 at the time. I was on a “special duty assignment” to Det 3, 7602nd Air Intelligence Group. There were only four of us in the unit: A Major in command (Melvin Rooch), an E-6 Intel Specialist (Bobby Carter), me (Les Halfhill, an E-5 Admin at the time), and a GS-12 Intel type (Funston Chan). The three of us military types wore civilian clothes. I remember (faintly) that our offices were in the TDC Hq building, on the second floor. We were at the end of the hall near the TDC Commander’s offices -- seems like it was a Rear Admiral, down to the right as you faced the CO’s office.

One time [while copying some classified material], I got part way through and the copier jammed! Badly! I got out most of the pages, but some I couldn’t. So Bobby comes in to help, and we end up using a straightened-out wire coat hanger to try to hook out the pages we couldn’t get to. Then the coat hanger gets stuck! We can’t get it out! So we have to call in a copier maintenance guy, who is a Taiwanese civilian. First of all, we’re busted with a coat hanger sticking out of the machine. Then we have to worry about him seeing this classified. Well, we somehow managed to pull it off without getting burned, but it was an interesting day.

We had two Taiwanese civilians (man in his fifties, woman in her twenties), who worked in a small building behind the TDC building. I don’t remember their names, but they once took my daughter and me out to a huge dim-sum restaurant. Delicious!

I remember the Chinese typewriter they used. It had a horizontal drum a few inches in diameter and 15 inches long. In front of it was a tray with lead type (like the old-time newspapers would use to set the type for their printing presses). So the typist would have to use an arm on the typewriter to pick up an individual piece of type, which contained a single Chinese character, and then position it over the piece of paper lying around the drum, then press a button to stamp it onto the paper. They had multiple trays of type, each with a couple thousand pieces, because of the nature of [their work]. A normal Chinese typewriter wouldn’t need that many characters, and could get by with a single tray. Rather laborious, compared to even our manual typewriters, let alone our electrics.

Through my ex, I became friends with a very nice, well-to-do Taiwanese couple. I remember visiting them at their house, and them taking us to a park on Grass Mountain, and the National Palace Museum, and a resort down-island (where we had rabbit for lunch), and a beach house on the northern shore, and an authentic Japanese restaurant with great food. There were a lot of very nice people in Taiwan.

One morning (I think it was mid-December 1978), I was watching local TV at my apartment. There were crowds of people in the streets, showing obvious signs of anger and fear. I didn’t speak any Chinese, so I didn’t know what it was all about. I then got a call from Funston. He told me about President Carter's announcement of "normalization" with the PRC, that there were some problems around the city, and that I should stay home until he gave the “all clear.” That didn’t come for three days.

I heard that a mob crashed the gates of both compounds, tore down and burned US flags, broke windows, etc. Also, there was a ruckus outside the embassy/consulate and an incident at the China Seas (63) Club that I commented on earlier.

While I was waiting to get clearance to go back to the office, a Taiwanese friend stopped by and gave me a brown, silk-looking coat of Chinese style, with Chinese symbols on it. She suggested that I wear it if I went out, thinking that it might help protect me if the mobs saw a westerner wearing something in solidarity with them. I didn’t put it to the test.

Then, a couple of weeks later, Carter send Warren Christopher over to talk to the Taiwanese. It didn’t go well. I remember seeing some of it on TV, with Christopher’s caravan getting pelted with rocks, eggs, and paint. He looked scared s**t-less! I guess I would have been, too.
So the next couple of months, I was busy with preparations for leaving. I had to handle the turn-in of all our government equipment through supply channels, etc.

In March 1979, I got back to the office after a run to West Compound. Good ‘ol Bobby Carter [from the shop] greeted me by saying “Les, your orders came in. You’re going to Mogadishu. Somalia!” My first thought was, ‘What the hell?’ I guess that showed on my face so Bobby then says, “Just kidding! You’re going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.” And that’s what happened.

The last few weeks I was there, some of us were put up in a brand new hotel than had just been built a block away from the compound [sorry, don’t remember its name]. It was pretty cool living, and we got a great per diem, so I ate well at the hotel restaurant all the time.

I left Taipei on-or-about April 1st, 1979.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Taiwan Report - Quick Reference

At the end of The Taiwan Report (1973) was a section of quick reference stuff. I suppose that's why they called it the Quick Reference Section. It included important phone numbers, operating hours of clubs and other facilities, and an English-Chinese listing of popular destinations. I assume the idea was that one could point to the destination he wanted and a cab driver could get him there.

There are ten pages in this section and I included them all in this post. Click on any page for a larger version.

I just want to once again thank Les Duffin for taking the time to scan and clean up the more than 100 pages of this booklet. It was no small task and I really appreciate all his effort. As I've said before, the book is a great snapshot in time and I'm sure that many of us had long ago forgotten much of the information that it contained. I'm really pleased that I've had the opportunity to record it here for future reference.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Status of Native Taiwan People

Back in August I wrote a little piece about the tribes of Taiwan, including a comment that the native people may have a more legitimate claim to the island than anyone else.

I just received a very interesting email from Richard Hartzell regarding a court case, "Roger C. S. Lin et. al. v. United States of America," that was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on November 3, 2008.

As Richard explains, "This court case is arguing that the native inhabitants of the Taiwan, currently under the jurisdiction of the "Republic of China" cannot be correctly classified as ROC citizens or as having any sort of Chinese nationality. There are no legal documents which can prove that Taiwan is a part of China."

Back in the days when we were all stationed on Taiwan, we were mostly concerned about helping the "good" Chinese (ROC) defend themselves against the "bad" Chinese (PROC). This case, however, raises some fascinating legal points about the status of the native people of the island (as well as the island itself) and I'm eager to see how the court responds.

For more details on this case, follow these links:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Amahs & Apartments & Shoes

Sarj provided these photos of his apartment in the early 1960s.

After reading the post on servants, I remembered that I had a picture of the amah who worked for Joe Kowalowski and me before I got married. I made comment on the blog that I would find the photos and scan them for you. Joe and I shared this apartment until I got married in Nov '62.

When I found the pictures and looked at them, I noticed the calendar on the wall. It's a 1962 calendar from K Shoes on Chung Shan N. Rd. I always thought of this place as K Tailors. They did do tailoring, but as the enlargement of the calendar shows, shoes were their main thing.

*** UPDATE ***
Just received this photo of K Shoes from Roger, over at the Linkou website.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Rest of the Story - Part 1 of 3

The Taiwan Report provided all sorts of nice-to-know information for those with assignments to USTDC and the entire Taipei area. Chapter 15 of the booklet covered most everything not addressed in the previous 14 chapters. I'll be posting it for the next couple of days, after which I intend to begin posting the ten page "Quick Reference" section at the back of the booklet.

One of the items addressed here is pets. The only pet I had was the little lizard that used to walk across my ceiling from time to time. I was always slightly concerned that I might sleep with my mouth open some night and...well, you can guess the rest. Luckily, that never happened -- at least as far as I know!

(To be continued)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Household Help

With my family in the States and the hostel as my home, all I knew about amahs and yard boys was what I heard from others.

I did have a houseboy at the hostel, as did most everyone else. I don't recall what I paid my guy but I'm sure it wasn't a whole lot because I couldn't afford much. I hardly needed help keeping my room straight, but I was told by others that hiring a houseboy was expected and that having him would help ensure that nothing ever got stolen.

He made my bed, shined my shoes and kept the place all neat and tidy. He also replaced my water jug whenever it got low, which cost extra and I assume that he got a piece of that. He was very helpful and trustworthy as well. One morning I accidently left a rather large amount of cash on the table in my room when I headed off to work. When I returned that evening, not only was it all there, but it was neatly sorted and stacked as well.

My friend Larry, who lived in the room next door, had a different houseboy. Larry was a great guy, but he was a bit obsessive about some things. For example, he always lined up his containers of shampoo, shaving cream, aftershave, etc., by height -- the shortest item on the left and the tallest on the right. But when he returned home after work, he'd find the tallest item on the left and the shortest on the right. The next morning, he'd set them up the way he wanted them again but when he'd get home they were reversed again. After about a week, Larry couldn't take it anymore and had a talk with the guy. I guess they got it all sorted out because he returned to his usual happy self after that.

Anyway, Chapter 14 of The Taiwan Report discusses the hiring of household help in the mid-1970s:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Old Life Magazine Taiwan Photos

Marc left a comment on one of my earlier posts that provided a link to this really great resource for old Taiwan photographs. I doubt that everyone reads all the comments, so I wanted to be sure everyone was aware of these old photographs from Life Magazine -- many of them previously unpublished.

When you get to the site, just enter either "Taiwan" or "Formosa" into the search box and then just click through the several pages of photos. Click on any one of them to see a larger version.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Policies and Support Facilities (Part 1 of 3)

Chapter 3 of the Taiwan Report (printed in 1973) discusses a whole range of topics that were helpful to new arrivals at USTDC and elsewhere in the Taipei area. Topics covered in this chapter were:
  • Leave and pass policy
  • Billeting for unaccompanied personnel (housing for singles)
  • Proper uniforms
  • Clothing sales store (military uniforms)
  • Post offices
  • Hospital
  • Dental care
  • Navy Exchange system (department store)
  • Commissary (grocery store)
  • American Embassy Shop (liquor)
  • Sponsor program
  • Child care center
  • Legal services
  • Special pay and allowances
  • Laundry and dry cleaning
  • Messing facilities (dining halls and military clubs)
You may notice that several photographs in this section (and others as well) have been previously posted on their own. Even so, I think that the actual text provides enough detail of how things were -- at least the official version -- to justify posting the whole thing.

There are ten pages in this section, so I'm posting them over a three day period.

(Continued tomorrow)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Memories, Real and Imagined

Two or three years ago, during a summer visit to my old hometown in Ohio, I had an opportunity to explore the school buildings where I spent my junior high and high school years. I hadn't entered either one since I left town to join the Air Force back in 1962.

A few things in both buildings were pretty much as I remembered them, but I was quite surprised to find that most of those empty hallways and classrooms bore only a slight resemblance to my memories of them. Both buildings were torn down this past summer, so I'm glad that I had a chance to see them before they were gone.

Though my memories of the USTDC building have dimmed over time, I suspect that many of the memories that remain are probably also flawed.

I remembered the main entrance to the building (which I think was officially called the quarterdeck) as very ornate with large columns. But a year or so ago when I received the photograph that's at the top of this blog, I saw that I had it wrong. I later received some earlier photos showing a long metal awning over that entrance, but it was gone by the time I arrived.

I remember that the ship's bell was on the right side of the porch just outside the entrance. Chief Gagne always brought his portable radio out a couple of minutes before 0800 each weekday morning so that he could hear the "beep-beep-beep-beeeep!" time signal to ensure that we raised the colors at precisely the right moment while he did the four repetitions of two bells. Things didn't always go as planned, as I wrote in this piece back in July, 2007.

I remember that the J-1's office (Director of Personnel - Admin) was to the left as you walked into the lobby. That was a Navy captain (0-6) when I was there in 73-74, but I don't remember his name. I believe he was a tall, thin guy with grayish hair.

Straight ahead, as you came in the main entrance, was the small room -- a sort of glassed in booth -- where BMC Gagne spent his days. That was also where we pulled watch at night and on weekends. There was a military bunk behind a wall in that room where we were allowed to sleep on watch between 2400 and 0500. The phones often rang at night (usually some idiot in the States who didn't know the time difference) so we often didn't get much sleep.

Just to the right of the chief's office was a stairway (with a fancy wooden railing?) that went up to the right. I remember almost nothing about the upstairs except that the admiral and the general had their offices up there. Admiral Beshany and Brigadier General Burrows filled those positions during most of my tour. Admiral Beshany was apparently a Washington Redskins fan because I remember seeing a helmet on a bookshelf in his office. I also remember the J-2 Acquisition Office was up there somewhere, where Larry Sherman and Pete Ayling worked (AF and Army NCOs and both great guys). Public affairs, Protocol and the Legal Office were up there somewhere and I assume that the J-2 (Intel) and the J-3 (Ops) were also.

Back downstairs and facing Chief Gagne's office, I turned right to head down the hall to my office. It seems to me that there was a ramp to the left off that hallway that went down toward my office, which was to the right at the bottom. John Cranford and Wayne Morris were Army guys with whom I shared the office. There was a big old Xerox 914 copy machine there during my time. I think the government must have bought thousands of them because I used them just about everywhere I was ever assigned.

Back to the left was my boss's office (Army LTC Blanton) where some Navy and Marine guys worked (Ken Royce, Larry Driscoll and two or three others whose names have gotten away from me). There were two secretaries; one was American (Helen) and the other was Chinese and I can't remember her name.

There was a back door to my office that opened to the outside, and it could only be opened from the inside. Not far from that door was the print shop where two or three Navy guys printed all the documents for the place. I remember that they had a paper cutter in there that could slice through a ream of paper like a hot knife through butter.

It seems to me that the floors on the lower level of the TDC building were all terrazo tile, but I don't remember if that was the case upstairs. I also don't remember anything about a basement, though I think there may have been one.

So that's about everything I remember about the USTDC building. Based on my experiences with my old schools, I'm probably wrong about much of it. I've never seen any photos of the inside of the building and I doubt that there are any around. Most of us don't take pictures of our workplaces. The building was torn down sometime after 1979 (does anyone know when?) so none of us can go back to see how things really were. I've often wondered if it was used for anything else between 1979 and whenever it was demolished.

What things about the building stand out in your memory?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Currency, Finance and Banking

I've written previously about financial matters in Taiwan and this is the chapter from The Taiwan Report (1973) on that subject.

I honestly don't recall the "Savings Deposit Program" described here, but that 10% return rate looks pretty good by today's standards. Of course the inflation rate in 1973 was 6.16% and in 1974 it was 11.03%, so those participating in this program would have just about broken even.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clothing in Taiwan

Chapter 11 of the Taiwan Report described what types of clothing were generally worn, as well as their availability in-country. It also provided tips for clothing maintenance.

Many people had clothes custom made while I was there in the mid-seventies, though I think it was more common a few years earlier. Friends of mine who visited Hong Kong said that they could visit a tailor in the morning to pick out a suit style and fabric and be measured, return for a fitting in the afternoon and have the suit delivered to their hotel by evening.

My wardrobe was pretty simple in those days. Still is, come to think of it. Anyway, what I remember most is how the high humidity and frequent rainfall made everything feel damp most of the time. I had just spent about five years in Colorado Springs, with its cool and dry climate before heading to Taipei, so it was quite an adjustment.

After leaving USTDC, I was assigned to a base near Houston, Texas, and barely noticed the high humidity there.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Transportation in Taiwan - 1973

American servicemen who were being assigned to USTDC and other Taipei area units had much to learn about transportation in and around the city. Chapter 10 of The Taiwan Report provided a pretty decent summary of information, including such things as licensing and insurance requirements, maintenance and repair issues and the use of public transportation. Helpful tips for "Space-A" travel were also included.

Because I was unaccompanied, living in the hostel, and didn't own a car or motorcycle, my primary mode of transportation was taxi. I knew people who routinely rode buses (at very inexpensive rates, as I recall) but watching people being crammed into those fumes-spewing beasts was enough for me to either walk or take a taxi wherever I needed to go.

I do regret not exploring more of the city and the surrounding countryside during my 1973-74 tour. For that matter, I've learned quite a lot about places in the compound itself that I didn't know when I was there. I have a grandson who is in the Air Force in Japan and the last thing I told him before he headed overseas was to see everything he could, learn at least a little bit of the language, and take lots of pictures!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Open Messes and Other Clubs - Part 1

Here are more pages from Taiwan Report, the booklet that was mailed to personnel being assigned to USTDC and other units in the Taipei area. This edition was printed during fiscal year 1973.

Today and tomorrow will be Chapter Nine, which describes the military clubs and social organizations available to military personnel and their families. The Club 63 became the China Seas Club when the Navy took over its operation. Kent, the guy who has the Taipei Air Station website and blog (links are in the right-hand column) was a manager at the MAAG Officer's Club while he was stationed at TAS.

As always, just click on any image to see a larger version.