Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

TDC Memories -- Bill Roadman

Bill Roadman was stationed at TDC from February 1967 to April 1968. He contacted me a few days ago with several of his experiences during his tour:

I worked as a Radioman at the USTDC building that held the radio communications. I was a Radioman with the Navy. I lived in the signal compound barracks and my houseboys’ names were Ting and Jimmy (Hu?). Not sure of the spelling of Jimmy's last name. I remember they were both at least 40 years old. Jimmy was planning to retire and move to Argentina (someday). I used to get my hair cut at the signal compound barbershop -- very pretty barber. They would always massage your shoulders with a small electric massager that felt so good.

I ate almost everyday at the F.A.S.D. restaurant in the Signal compound. I made friends with two Taiwanese students who graduated from Soochow University - Harry and Eugene. Harry eventually graduated and moved to the Boston area in the states. I was able to contact him in the late 70's, but have lost contact with him. He was doing post graduate work at one of the big colleges there. Eugene got a job with China Air Lines and is probably retired now. Also lost contact with him due to neglect. I wish I had kept up with them. I recall how they always insisted on taking me to the noodle stands in Shimending (not sure of the spelling). There were times when my stomach was doing flip-flops, but I did not want to offend them. I got even though; I took them to the F.A.S.D and bought them chili dogs. I thought they would puke.

I had a 1953 Triumph 500cc motorcycle that I bought from Lee Olsen in early 67, as he was getting discharged from the Army. I hung out with mostly Army guys. We used to get off midnight shift and go running all over Taipei just goofin’ off. We would get breakfast then buy lots of fireworks and set them off. We especially liked the ones that cost a nickel each. They were about the size of a stick of dynamite and about as loud when you set them off. You stood them vertically on the ground, lit the fuse and they would rocket about 100 feet in the air before exploding

I believe I worked in building 18. Also note the small L shaped building to the right of 18. I think that is where Comseventhflt Det A had their shore to ship voice communications. I was TDY there for I think 6 weeks or more. There was one sailor on duty in that building for 8 hours each day. I think there were at least 4 of us. Weird things happened in that building. We all thought it was haunted and hated to stand the mid-watch alone. There was nothing to do except monitor communications and log in every 15 minutes or half-hour whatever happened. One night I was sitting there reading something, when a loud band struck the ceiling just over my head. I jumped up shaking. I ran outside to see if something fell on the roof, but nothing. Then I went back inside. In a couple of minutes there was another loud bang. I was getting nervous. We had a military 45 loaded and were ready to defend the building if need be. For the next couple of hours a loud band would strike about every 15 minutes. I figured one of my buddies got into the attic and was trying to scare me. I went back outside and walked around the building. No entrance could be found to get up there. Needless to say I was on pins and needles the rest of the night. I could not wait to get relieved by the following watch. When they came, I didn’t say anything, thinking they would think I was crazy. I went to the barracks and tried to sleep. That night I had to go back for my next watch. When I got there, I asked the guy I was relieving if anything unusual happened. He said, “Sure thing; something was banging on the ceiling.” He was scared and too had tried to find an opening to the attic. These continued for weeks and everyone who worked there heard it and was not amused. One guy got so frustrated he took the 45 out and shot a hole in the concrete barrier fence behind the building. We never told anyone else about the events figuring they would laugh at us.

The barracks I lived in was either 26 and 25 or 25 and 11. For some reason I had to move. We referred to them as the Signal Compound barracks. I think that only the barracks were referred to as the Signal Compound, but may have included the ball field and the MAA’s office, barbershop etc.


titojohn said...

Bill you brought back many fond memories of my time at TDC. I was a Radioman (RM2/RM1) on my second tour at TDC during the time you were there. I remember Ting (George/Ying Ru-Ching) and Jimmy Hu. The barracks where George and Jimmy worked is depicted at number 11 on the map. I went to George's house many times for dinner. The last time I saw George in the early 80's he had opened a jewelry/souvenir shop with his son at one of the hotels there. I remember a few of us had Thanksgiving dinner at Jimmy's place one year. We bought a turkey at the commissary, and Jimmy had it cooked at a local bakery. Jimmy Hu was working on some ship as a steward in the late 70's, early 80's. I also was TAD to COMSEVENTHFLT Det Alfa and remember the long, lonely nights with the random radio checks in that small shack in the back of the TDC compound.

Then there was Danny the manager of the FASD at the Signal Compound. He ended up as a manager of a restaurant at one of the new hotels there.

Thanks for bringing back some of the memories of my times at TDC.

John Quinn

Anonymous said...

Bill and John,

I was a YN3 stationed at the HSA Admin Office in the West Compound and lived in barracks number 11 from Feb 65 - Jan 67. And yes I remember a houseboy named Jimmy Hu or Wu. I ate at the FASD Mess Hall in the Signal Compound (I had forgotten the name until I read your post..thanks) almost everyday. The food was pretty good. I made friends with some of the waiters in the FASD Mess Hall, and also I remember the Comseventflt Det A building as I played ball with some of the guys there. Thanks for the memories!