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: