Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Thursday, July 31, 2008

USTDC Lighter

Does anyone know if these USTDC lighters were presented by TDC, maybe as a going-away gift, or were they sold in the Navy Exchange or by local merchants?

Many of us smoked in those days but this lighter looks like it was used very little, if at all. I don't recall ever seeing one during my tour.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

MAAG Uniform Patch

A couple of days ago I posted some MAAG images and asked whether anyone had ever seen the MAAG patch sewn to a military uniform as it appeared in one of the photographs.

I just received a note from Bruce Rayle, the son of Lieutenant Colonel Roy Rayle, US Army. LTC Rayle was assigned to MAAG Taiwan from April 1957 until April 1959. He is second from the left in this photograph. You can read a fascinating biography of this man at this website.

Bruce estimates that the photo was taken in December 1958 or January 1959. You can clearly see the MAAG patch on the sleeve of the officer to the right of the photo.

I assume that the blouse shown in my earlier post was an Army or Air Force summer blouse of some kind. I enlisted in 1962 and I don't recall anything quite like it during my career.

Bruce also sent along this photo of his MAAG dependent ID card.

Besides Chinese ID, what other cards did we military types have to carry when we were there? I remember Chinese ID, Chinese drivers license and Navy Exchange ration card, but were there others? Was there a separate card for the class 6 (booze) store?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

After the Detour

Back in May, Sarj Bloom wrote about his trip to Sun Moon Lake. The main road was washed out so he had to take a detour that was pretty rough on his 1957 Chevy and at least one of his passengers.

He just sent me these two photos that he took while at the lake. Looking at these, I'd say the trip was probably worth it. But of course it wasn't my Chevy and I wasn't on the receiving end of that exploding soda bottle!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Scouting at Camp McCauley

This is a Boy Scout beret from 1964 for a staff member named "Mike" at Camp McCauley.

I know that military guys (and their wives) often volunteer to serve as Scout leaders, especially in overseas locations, and I was just wondering if anyone here did so during his tour in Taiwan.

A year ago I wrote a short piece asking if anyone recalled exactly where McCauley Beach was located. Someone left the following comment several weeks later:

McCauley Beach and Camp McCauley are at the following coordinates just east of Jinshan.


The area is pretty much unrecognisable today as the power station built in the '80s very much industrialised the area.

I remember being taken on one of the final excursions to Camp McCauley in late '78. The place was pretty much deserted. We kids were picked up in the 63 Club car park (exactly the same today as it was then!) in the morning and dropped off later in the evening covered in oil as there had been a recent spill.

We visited again several times in the '80s but as the power station grew it became less and less of a nice place to swim and it became little used.

If you'd like to see that location, the guys at the Linkou website have provided a map, as well as several photos of the Dawgs engaging in recreational activities at the beach.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

MAAG-nificant Organization

I recently received some photos of these MAAG (Military Assistance Advisory Group) insignia items. The most interesting to me was the military blouse with the MAAG patch on the left shoulder. I think it was probably Army, but can't say for sure. I've never seen one like it before. Does anybody know the time frame? Sometime in the 1950s perhaps?

By the way, alert readers may have noticed that I modified the Overview section in the column to your right. Thanks to some really great material from Les Duffin, I finally got the right "words and music" to outline how USTDC, MAAG, and the other commands in Taiwan all fit together. I was really fuzzy on that structure, except that I was fairly certain TDC was the senior military organization, at least when I was there.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

American Forces Network Taiwan

In November of last year, I wrote an article about the American Forces Network Taiwan (AFNT) and how in 1979 it became ICRT Radio, broadcasting today on FM 100, a popular music station in Taipei.

In April of this year, I provided a link to Rick Courtney's AFNT website, where you can listen to a broadcast from June 23, 1968. Great stuff!

These appear to be promotional fliers, identifying some AFNT station personnel and listing a program schedule.

American Village

These from Sarj from around Christmas of 1962:

The place was called American Village and it was on the road to Grass Mountain, but before the road turned north. I think that at one time it may have had a guard house and gate. I chose this place because it was where most American families lived at the time.
Another reason for the back yard photo was to remind us of how the houses and compounds in those days had broken glass embedded in the mortar on top of the surrounding walls. This was one of my first impressions that I wrote home about. Notice the insert that shows the glass. Not a good photo, but all I seem to be able to find.
I hope that somone can respond to the Village and maybe the school near there. Was it an American school? I can't remember.

The backyard at American Village and the neighbor's kids' swing set.

Insert showing broken glass pieces embedded in top of wall -- very common in those days.
This was the school yard area.

This was the front of our house in American Village. This is where I really learned about earthquakes. One hit while I was inside one day and I thought the ceiling would come down so I ran outside and then it looked like the telephone pole would fall and hit me. So I stayed in the doorway, which I found out later was the recommended place to stay.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Few More Sarj Photos

Sarj sent me these photos of himself and his wife from the early 1960s. Though she and Sarj later went their separate ways, these excellent pictures show the beauty of Taiwan that we all remember.
The last three photos were taken at a beach where Sarj used to spend time. In the first of those three, you can see two water buffalo also spending some time at the beach.

Sarj writes:

I remember the mountain (Kaunin) as "Sleeping Beauty Mountain." I think it is supposed to resemble a woman lying down and her hair flowing. I never could exactly make it out but that's what I was told it was called. It was on the left as you were heading up to Grass Mountain. Anyway it was my favorite mountain range.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Countryside Photos

Here are some more black and white photos taken by Sarj Bloom during the early sixties.
It seemed like every family raised ducks, even in the city, but this looks like a pretty good place to raise them.

This looks like a commercial duck farm.
I believe this was on the way to the private beach that we went to and I always thought it was such an idyllic village scene.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Links

I've just added a couple of new links to the "Links of Interest" section to your right.

One is the Vintage Formosa site at, which contains tons of historical photographs and postcards covering a wide variety of Taiwan subjects and locations.

The other is the Taiwan History website which contains many great photos and associated comments. It isn't updated anymore, but the existing content is certainly worth your time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In Defense of Taiwan

I don't normally discuss current issues in Taiwan, except when they're related to the "back in the day" issues covered here. If I want in-depth commentary on such things, I rely on those who are closer to the situation, like Michael Turton, an American educator who lives and works in Taichung. His blog "The View From Taiwan" is one of my daily reads and has always been one of the links displayed in the column to your right.

However, because of some relatively new events involving the governments of Taiwan, the United States and the People's Republic of China, I hope that you'll forgive me for breaking from the routine for a few moments.

Taiwan has relied on the United States for the bulk of its defense weapons for decades. The People's Republic of China (PROC) is opposed to that, obviously, because it would make it very costly for them to take over a nation that is able to defend itself. American troops were stationed there, as we well know, until 1979 when President James Earl Carter pulled them out. Even after that we continued to sell arms to the Taiwan government as they requested them. Please note that we have never given them anything in that regard.

In recent years the PROC has referred to Taiwan as a "renegade province," implying that they've always owned it and simply want it back. In truth, Taiwan was never "owned" by mainland China. It appears to me that the United States, Japan and even Holland could all come much closer to justifying such an outlandish claim. But of course they wouldn't do that because the future of Taiwan is best left to the good citizens of Taiwan. That's what democracy is all about.

Which brings me to the issue that prompted this piece: I read an excellent editorial today at the Cato Institute website, which was reprinted from the July 22nd edition of the Asia Times. It's fairly lengthy, but if you have any interest in the future of Taiwan, I encourage you to read it carefully.

The bottom line is this: The United States appears to have frozen the sale of military arms to Taiwan -- even those already contracted for. Admiral Keating, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) said recently that there is such a freeze. The U.S. State Department, on the other hand, says there is no freeze. Someone is obviously...uh, mistaken. (How's that for diplomacy?)

All we know for certain is that weapons have not been shipped to Taiwan for quite a long while and no one wants to say why -- or even if -- that's the case. The Cato article offers several interesting possibilities.

If you feel that Taiwan has the right to defend itself against involuntary takeover by the People's Republic, and that we Americans have an obligation to do all that we can to assist them in that effort, then I encourage you to contact your elected representatives and politely ask them to support the free and independent government of The Republic of China (Taiwan). You can do this easily on-line: To contact your Senators, click here and enter your state. To contact your Representative, click here and enter your state and ZIP code.

I think that we who were fortunate enough to meet and help defend the people of Taiwan many years ago should do what we can to support them in their continuing struggle, especially in these present circumstances.

I'm hopeful that many others will feel the same.

Cattle Ranch

Sarj says this was the first cattle ranch that he ever saw in Taiwan. I'd probably call it a farm, but then I read somewhere that anything east of the Mississippi River is considered a farm and anything west of the Mississippi is considered a ranch -- Toe-may-toes vs. Toe-mah-toes, I suppose. On the other hand, you could theoretically get to Taiwan by heading either east or west from the Mississippi, right?

Anyway, it's a great photograph and as Sarj pointed out, it could have been taken most anywhere in the world.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Aircraft Noise

Someone recently added a comment to my USTDC Compound Today post. The writer was a dependent at the time and mentioned the loud noise of the low-flying passenger jets on final approach to the airport.

I've written about that noise before, but I recently (vaguely) remembered attending softball games in the compound while jets passed overhead.

It seems to me that umpires used to call a time-out when the aircraft were close to the field -- you could hear them coming from quite a distance -- and then would resume play after they passed over. This often happened several times during a game and everyone would stop and plug their ears until the noise subsided.

As I wrote some time ago, the absolute worst (that I recall) were the Cathay Pacific jets that screamed as they flew overhead. Someone once told me that their aircraft had Rolls Royce engines on them and of course aircraft noise wasn't widely regulated in those days. I presume it's at least a little quieter in the skies over Taipei these days.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Working The Fields 2

Here are two more photographs from Sarj showing workers in the fields of Taiwan. He says that whenever he stopped to take photos, the workers were always friendly and smiled at the camera.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Working The Fields

Sarj Bloom has provided some photographs that he took of people working in the fields of Taiwan during the early 1960s. I'll post two of them today and the other two tomorrow.

Note the boy on the water buffalo on the far side of the field in each photo. Also note the implements that the workers are carrying -- the same implements that appeared in the Funeral Procession piece a few days ago.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Request For Help (Slightly Off-Topic)

I received an email today regarding the adult son of a former Army guy, possibly a supply sergeant, who served in the Chiayi area from 1960 to 1966. The sergeant apparently wanted to take his son with him back to the States, but his girlfriend refused.

The son, born in 1960, grew up to become a Christian minister in Taiwan who is now the head chaplain of a large hospital. He would like to locate his father, about whom he remembers almost nothing. He vaguely remembers playing on a military base as a child but that's about all. He remembers almost no English from his childhood.

I couldn't find anything on any US Army unit in the Chiayi area. I told his friend that I would seek the advice of others and that's what I'm doing here.

I did suggest that he consider looking into Y-chromosome DNA testing as offered by places like, which I've used in my own genealogical research. It would still require some legwork, but it might provide him with some leads.

If anyone has any other ideas, please post them here or contact me directly. After all these years it would be really nice if this gentlemen could learn more about his paternal ancestry.

Hostel #1 Today


George just sent me this great additional info on the old Hostel #1:

The Grass Mountain Hostel #1 is now Taipei Teachers' In-Service Education Center.
I searched the web in English but found very few info. The two best blogs in Chinese I found are the following:

The blog mentions the facility was used as dormitories by US military personnels until 1969.
The facility then was used by park authority until 1981 when the it became Taipei Teachers' In-service Education Center.

More photos including International Hotel and Chiang Ka- Sheik's summer villa.


Back in May, I posted a couple of photos taken by Stev Pitchford of Hostel #1 on Grass Mountain. New people being assigned to USTDC and elsewhere were often quartered there until they made other living arrangements.

Using Google Earth, Stev has located the building as it exists today. Here are those images with his comments:

I found the Grass Mountain Hostel #1 building on Google Earth and here it is. I don't know what it's called now and the area has changed a lot over the years. You can see the old swimming pool in the upper left quadrant of the first picture. Below that is the old basketball court where the Chinese kids used to run us ragged. To the right of the basketball court and just above the parking lot (which wasn't there in my time) is the hostel. The buildings immediately to the left, right, and above the hostel are all new to me. In the lower left quadrant of the picture you can see the pond that is in some of the Grass Mountain Park pictures I sent earlier.

Here is the old building. The driveway from the parking lot goes through the entrance canopy. You can see the second floor balcony sticking out under the roof on the right front side of the building. The roof with the lopped off corners on the left side of the building covers the sulfur pools. The front pool was open to the public and the back pool was for our use. I think the backs of the right wing and middle wing (not the wing containing the sulfur pools) have been cut off. If my memory is right, those wings extended back further and enclosed a little back yard.
The rectangular blue pool at the upper left is the old spring fed swimming pool. The faded green asphalt below the pool is the old basketball court.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Here's another mystery photo from Sarj. He saw a picture of a similar structure on the internet that was supposed to be some kind of kiln, but that thatched roof would seem to indicate otherwise. Was it an old house?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hillside House

Here's another great shot from the early 1960s by Sarj Bloom. I wonder what was loaded on the bicycle that made it necessary for the man, woman and child to push it up the hill?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mystery Beach


Apparently some were having problems with the links that David provided in his comments (below), so he has provided this supplemental information:

1. Ruei Bin is located at Township of Ruei Fang, Taipei County.

2. Ruei Bin Beach today's look.!BBPynrSZHBZGV4RG5Yq5Edo-/photo?pid=0&next=2979&fid=2

The author said the beach used to be a sandy beach, but no more.
She also has a few photos of Ruei Bin's streets and shops.

3. A bird's-eye view of Ruei Bin Beach from hilltop in opposite direction.!lj.FZTuFFRnIGJMfu_p7V.ukDA--/photo?pid=680

4. more photos of Ruei Bin. (please scroll down to see.)

5. Highway 62 WanLi - RueiBin

6. a video clip of Ruei Bin Beach area.

Sarj writes:

This beach was a very popular Chinese beach. I remember the name as "Rae-Bin." I think it was about 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive and I remember that that we parked on the beach and got stuck.

It was very popular so someone should remember it. I checked a lot of beaches on-line but found none with a name like that or one that looked like this one. Maybe it became a resort and the name changed. Notice the food areas under cover and the very pretty mountains around the area.

Can anyone identify this beach? I found a pretty good article in the archives of the Taipei Times describing several beaches in the area, but it doesn't contain any photographs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Taipei Zoo

Elephants and giraffes just don't change much over the years, but I thought these pics from Sarj were interesting because they show the zoo and some of its visitors as they were in the early 1960s.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Highway One Back In The Day

Sarj sent me these 1962 photos along Highway 1. He says that people today probably have no idea how small and rural that road used to be.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Park and Harbor Info

Thanks to Les Duffin for providing this info:

Don, I left a couple of comments on your site identifying Sarj’s photos of Keelung (Chiling) Harbor and Yang Ming Shan Park. I thought he might like these photos which help confirm those IDs.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Where Is This Park?

Like many of us, Sarj Bloom has taken a lot of photos in past years, then forgotten the locations. This is one of those, a very nice looking park. He says there was a big parking lot, which you can just see at the bottom of the photo.

Does anyone know where it was?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More Keelung?

Sarj took these photos, probably in Keelung, during the early sixties: