Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Prosecution of US Military in Taiwan

Yesterday I posted an index page with links to the on-line, declassified CINCPAC history files. These are all documents that were requested by the Nautilus Group under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and there is enough material to keep any history junkie busy for a very long time.

Back in November, 2007, I wrote a series of pieces about the events leading up to the complete withdrawal of US Forces from Taiwan. Most of that information came from another declassified CINCPAC document that I had requested, and one of my postings mentioned the disposition of two military personnel and two dependents who were incarcerated in ROC prisons during the withdrawal.

John Quinn alerted me to a section of the 1971 CINCPAC history that discusses the prosecution of six US military members for crimes committed in Taiwan. You can find detailed accounts of those cases in the 1971 CINCPAC History file, beginning on page 571 and ending on page 576. When you open the document, you'll see two boxes at the top of your Adobe Reader that read "1/756" which means that you're viewing page 1 of 756 total pages in the document. Replace the 1 with 603 and you'll go directly to the printed page 571. You can scroll down from there.

What I found most interesting in all this was on page 607 (575). It states that three individuals named Eaton, Baio and Tipton were the first US military personnel ever incarcerated in Taiwan. I assume that prior to these cases, individuals were tried in military courts and were returned to the States, sentenced to military confinement, or both.

Friday, January 30, 2009

CINCPAC Command History -- Expanded

A few days ago I posted a link to the declassified 1973 CINCPAC Command History. It contains some references to USTDC and those who have the time and patience to wade through the 300+ pages will catch a glimpse into what was going on that year in the Pacific theater.

John Quinn dropped me a note recently, pointing out that there's a lot more than just the 1973 CINCPAC history on that website. There are CINCPAC histories from 1960 through 1984, as well as for 1991. In addition, there are histories and chronologies for US Forces Korea, US Forces Command Japan, and a few other organizational histories. If your service had you wandering all around the Pacific, you may find some interesting stuff at the site.

You can see the complete listing at this link.

These are very large PDF files and it may take a minute or two to download them. You'll have to have Adobe Reader to open them. If you don't already have it on your PC, you can get the free download here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Compound and Airport Photos -- 2006

Larry "Skip" Byler was back in Taipei in 2006 and took these shots. He wrote:

These are some of the pictures I took in 2006:
  • #1 is the HSA compound as it looks now. [HSA West]
  • #2 is the old PX compound, now a city Park. [HSA East]
  • #3 is taken from the window of my hotel, The Imperial Palace, about four blocks from the old Lin Kou Club, downtown.
  • The next few are of the Sung Shan air base, where I worked for the Provost Marshal's Office (PMO). It looks the same as it did in 1969.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

TDC Award

When I was at USTDC, we received this medal after we completed the first twelve months of our tour. As I recall, the Navy personnel could wear this on their uniforms and the award counted for promotion. To the Army and Air Force people, it was just a nice souvenir to store in the closet, where mine has been for the past 35 years.

I think it was officially called The Chinese-American Friendship Medal or something like that, but we all called it The Gemo Medal, short for Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. I've often wondered what the metal plaque in the lid said. If anyone can translate it for me, I'd appreciate it. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

I got rid of my TDC wall plaque years ago, but if anyone still has theirs and would be willing to take a photo of it and email it to me, I'd like to post it here on the blog as another piece of TDC history. The same goes for any other souvenirs of the place you might have.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CINCPAC Command History -- 1963

I recently stumbled upon a declassified copy of the 1963 Pacific Command history on the internet. It contains more than 300 pages in a PDF file, which is way more than I'm interested in, but it did have a few references to COMUSTDC, such as the fact that there were about 4000 military personnel assigned there in 1963.

There is also information on what was going on throughout the Pacific that year, which may interest some of you. I flipped through several pages but haven't yet read the document in detail.

One of the charts included is this organizational chart of the command. It shows the Commander of US Taiwan Defense Command (shown as "COM TAIWAN DEFCOM") as Vice Admiral C. L. Melson.

The complete document can be found here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Club 63 --> China Seas Club

I've mentioned a few times around here that the enlisted club, Club 63 (or 63 Club, as many of us referred to it) was renamed the China Seas Club sometime in 1973 or 1974 when the Navy took over its operation from MAAG, the Military Assistance Advisory Group.

Well, I just received these images from Barbara and Walt, who were at USTDC in 1978-1979. They're from the May-June 1978 issue of The China Seas News, the club's magazine. In the second block at the top of the calendar is an announcement about the upcoming fifth anniversary celebration of the China Seas on July 1, 1978. So of course that means the date of the transition was Jul 1, 1973.

And in case you've forgotten all the good food and entertainment at very reasonable prices, just check out the calendar!

Today, the building is occupied by The American Club in China, which was formerly located next to the East Compound on Sung Shan North Road. It's a private club that caters mostly to international business people and their families.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grass Mountain Clock

Walt took this photo of a clock that was somewhere on Grass Mountain in 1979. I don't recall seeing it but it's apparently still there, as shown in this Yangmingshan National Park website. You'll have to scroll down a little ways to see it.

In the above photo, just above the number six, there appear to be four English letters that may be "RADD." Does anyone have any idea what that stood for?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sea Dragon Club -- Revisited

Bill Thayer wrote regarding the Sea Dragon Club that I mentioned a few days ago:

Don, I saw your posting on the Sea Dragon Club. As I mentioned before, I was the Army personnel officer from Jan, 1973 until December, 1977.

I do not recall that they called it the Sea Dragon Club; we used to just refer to it as the FRA Club meaning Fleet Reserve Association Club. The FRA Club had moved to Tien Mou during that time. I spent many, many rowdy Friday and Saturday nights playing high-stakes blackjack in the upstairs room of the FRA club during that time. I think they had about five to ten tables upstairs and the deal rotated to the winner.
As best I can describe the location, it was located off the circle just before going into Tien Mou. Coming from Taipei in order to get to the former location of the Taipei American School, one would go around the loop bypassing the continuance to go to the BOT Housing area, bear right and go down about one block or a block and a half to TAS. Coming from the BOT Housing in Tien Mou headed toward Taipei there was a circle or traffic island and you would proceed about fifty yards and bear right to go to Taipei American School. I'm calling it a circle, but it could have been a large traffic island. The FRA Club was located about one block or a block and a half from the old Taipei American School location.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Typhoon Card

I've posted images of various Taiwan identification and ration cards, but Barbara recently sent me an item I hadn't seen before. She wrote:

Because of the nature of our work, we had to have special permission to be out and on the roads during typhoon conditions (something other people weren't allowed to do). I just found my "authorization card."

Walt actually had to use his once to pick up some of our people and take them home. There were no buses or cabs running during typhoon conditions.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

SFC Collins

I received a note from the daughter of Army Sergeant First Class Donald Lee Collins (deceased). She is researching her father's military history to pass along to her sons, who only met him one time before he died.

She knows that he was stationed in Taipei during 1960-1962, but doesn't know which organization he was assigned to.

If anyone remembers SFC Collins, I'm sure his daughter would love to hear from you. Send me an email at my USTDC email address (to your right) and I'll reply with her name and email address.

Sea Dragon Club

Larry "Skip" Byler provided these menu pages from the Sea Dragon Club, which I think may have also been known as the Fleet Reserve Club. I don't believe that it was still there when I arrived in 1973, but I can't swear to that. He wrote:

The Sea Dragon Club (Navy Club) was several blocks south of the downtown Lin Kou Club, on the west side. I remember that the Suzi Wong Bar was across the street. A lot of R&R guys went there and they had a live band most nights. I can't remember the band leader's name, but I recall that they were all from the Phillipines.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

National Palace Museum

Barbara Auch has sent me all sorts of cool stuff to post, including these two postcard images that I don't think I've seen before:

I found these two postcards (1978 vintage) of the National Palace Museum from my visit there. The special exhibition I went to was focused on their cloisonne snuff bottle collection. I remember that the museum changed out all exhibits every three or four months. The exhibits that were removed were then put back in some cave for storage.

The history of their exhibits was rather interesting also. When the Communists seized the mainland and people were fleeing to the island of Taiwan, they took with them all kinds of artwork, pottery, etc. That is what was being displayed at the National Palace Museum...all the stuff they were able to take off the mainland with them.

We were stunned by the sheer volume of artwork and culture they were able to save.

"National Palace Museum located in the scenic suburb of Waishuanghsi, 20 minutes from downtown Taipei, Taiwan, the Museum has the world’s largest collection of Chinese objects, totaling more than 240,000 items, representing the essence of Chinese culture spanning more than 3,000 years."

"The front gate of National Palace Museum located in the scenic suburb of Waishunghsi, Taipei, Taiwan"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Carter's Legacy II

Barbara also sent this item:

When you were in Taiwan, did you get any of those "complimentary" copies of the "China Travel & Trade" magazine? It had colorful pictures of all the different shops around town, tips on where to go and what to do, overview of holidays & special celebrations, upcoming events, maps, money exchange rates, a "list of useful Chinese terms" etc. - all kinds of different stuff. It was a nifty thing to have.

Well, I have one of those -- No. 43 to be exact, dated Dec 1978. This calendar is in it and I found it particularly interesting. [NOTE: Click on the image to see a larger version.]

Jimmy Carter slapped our allies in the face by recognizing Peking. But when you look at this calendar, you realize the full scope and flavor of just how hard that slap was! Remember that it was Jan 1, 1979 when Carter signed on to "Full diplomatic relations with the communist government of China" and broke off all relations with Taiwan. Choosing THAT particular day must have been the ultimate insult to Taiwan. I don't know how you could explain that to someone who has never been there, do you?

The information I had at that time was that Rear Admiral Linder [COMUSTDC] didn’t even know about Carter's speech until an hour before it actually happened.

By the way, right after the riots on Taiwan, there were "unofficial" orders not talk to anyone, particularly the press. We pulled in to a gas station and this poor Taiwanese guy came up to my window with tears in his eyes and said: "Why Jimmy do it? Why Jimmy do it?" It broke my heart.

Barbara also sent a link to an archived article from Time Magazine, dated December 25, 1978. It's titled "Taiwan: Shock and Fury" and it describes the reaction that she described in yesterday's piece.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Carter's Legacy

I've written previously about former president James Earl "Jimmy" Carter and his decision to kick Taiwan to the curb.

Back in December, Les Halfhill described his experiences in the aftermath of Carter's announcement and today Barbara Auch shares her account of those events. By the way, Carter made his announcement while congress was out of town, on a Friday (in the States), ten days before Christmas. If he thought no one would notice, read this account:

As I recall, the day that Jimmy Carter made the announcement was either a Friday or Saturday. Either way, I remember that it was the beginning of the weekend because that fact alone hindered information getting out to our personnel and their dependents -- information that I felt would have kept many of our people out of harms way had they known beforehand about Carter’s intentions. Our military personnel found out the same way the locals did: AFRTS radio! It caught everyone off guard.

I was working in the comm center when it happened and we were notified that we shouldn’t expect our relief watch to show up because there were 10,000 demonstrators outside the gate and the base was “locked down”. We were told that rioters were throwing balloons full of paint over the entrance gate and that things might get ugly. Off base was a different story. It did get ugly.

[At this point, Barbara refers back to the PACOM document that I posted several months ago]

The article said: “Some of these demonstrations resulted in minor personnel injury and property damage, but nothing serious.” I can tell you that there was LOTS of property damage at the EM (enlisted men’s) club. The rioters showed up there and cars were destroyed, flipped, smashed, or burned. There were only three cars that remained undamaged. One Chief Petty Officer tried to make a run for it and ended up with a spear in his side!

The on-scene Taiwanese Chief of Police was telling all the locals to leave the club. When a few of the local women there responded that their (American) husbands were also inside the club, the Chief of Police said, “if you want to stay in there with the Americans, then you can die with the Americans.”

Elsewhere, there was a group of dependents trapped inside the movie theater. Also, I had a friend who worked at Personnel or PAO (can't remember which or even remember her name now) but her husband was walking down the street when the violence broke out and he got knifed in the back, which punctured his lung! He ended up leaving the island via ship instead of a plane because of his injury (cabin pressure in the plane could have killed him).

After the rioting calmed down, my husband (also a CTO) and I had already pulled a double shift, (standing watch for 24-plus hours) before a relief watch made it in. I believe that was made possible (although I don’t know for sure) through the efforts of Adm Linder, who sent his car AND driver to take us to our home in TienMou! I remember the trip on our way home. There were protest signs and banners all up and down Chung Shan Blvd. There was one in particular that sticks in my mind. It was a really big long banner near the University. It was a picture of an eagle and a long dotted trail leading to a chicken with a caption that read, "See Americans turn chicken".

Afterwards, Jimmy Carter decided to send an entourage from CINCPAC to "smooth things over" with the locals. Admiral Weisner and his right hand and left hand men had arrived on the island and were met by 100,000 demonstrators at the airport. Their car was destroyed by demonstrators and Weisner’s right hand man had been hit in the back of the head with a tire iron (after it went through the glass of the car).

They abandoned their demolished car and arrived at the base in a Yoolung cab. When I arrived at work for my shift that day in the comm center, I was given a blow-by-blow account of how Adm Weisner showed up covered in eggs and various vegetable & fruit matter. But that was not nearly as shocking as the words that came out of his mouth. He asked our people “Why are they (the locals) so angry?”

Unbelievable! This admiral didn’t have a clue about the history of how the ChiComs forced so many people to flee from the mainland to Taiwan, or the deeply held belief on Taiwan that “Someday, we will take back the motherland."

In the days following the riots, many people were concerned that they would have to make a hasty departure from the island, leaving all their worldly possessions behind. That was a very real prospect at the time, but things cooled down rather quickly. The following weeks were incredible because things were moving so quickly. I think there were something like 100 families per week having their household goods packed up and leaving the island. It was quite a strain trying to pack out that many households per week. Things were closing down very quickly and near the end of my tour, you couldn’t even get anything to eat over at that cafeteria near the Exchange.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

McCauley Beach Picnic 1978

Barbara Auch and her husband Walt worked together at USTDC as cryptologic technicians from April 1978 to April 1979. Two earth-shattering events occurred during that period: the Lanhsu earthquake and the riots that occurred when President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter recognized Peking as the "True China."

Barbara has shared some great information with me about the immediate impact that Carter's announcement had on many US military personnel in Taipei and I will post that tomorrow.

Shown below is a photograph of Barbara and Walt (to her right) at a community-wide picnic at McCauley Beach in 1978. She wrote:

As I recall, it was a typical Taiwan day: HUMID. The picnic was for all military people and I really enjoyed that day, eating burgers, watching kids playing and their parents laughing...a pretty typical American picnic (except for the water buffalo of course).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Total Number of Troops?

I received an email from a former Air Force guy who is doing graduate work in Taiwan. He's working on a paper and is trying to find an estimate of how many US military people were stationed in Taiwan.

I think I'm safe in saying that the number probably reached its peak during the Vietnam war, probably sometime in the late sixties or so, but I have no idea what that number would be. In addition to all the units in Taipei, including Linkou, there was Ching Chuan Kang Air Base, Tainan Air Base, and of course all of the naval vessels in the waters around the island. I'm fairly sure there were other units scattered around also.

So does anyone out there have a good guesstimate?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Armed Forces Radio Blog

Burt Schneider was officer-in-charge of the Armed Forces Network in Taiwan from 1967 until 1969. He recently launched the Armed Forces Radio Blog, detailing his broadcasting experiences in Taiwan and elsewhere.

I've added a link to the site under the Taiwan-related Blogs heading to your right.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Enlisted Aides and Drivers

The USTDC Chief of Staff -- USAF Brigadier General Burrows, in my day -- had an enlisted aide. By regulation, an aide's job was to help maintain the general's quarters, assist at receptions and other social events, and pretty much do whatever else the general needed to have done. I wouldn't call them butlers, exactly, but that's probably close to how many of them served.

I don't recall the name of General Burrow's aide, but I remember him as a tall, thin, bookish looking guy with horn rim glasses. He once told me that his main job was to drive the general's wife wherever she needed to go. To avoid any possible legal or diplomatic issues resulting from an accident, he explained, she was not to drive anywhere in Taiwan.

I don't remember if General Burrows ever drove himself anywhere, but I do know that he was assigned a ROC enlisted man as his driver. Throughout the day, whenever the general had an appointment away from the building, BMC Gagne (or whoever was standing watch) would be alerted by the flag office via the squawk box to tell the general's driver to bring the car alongside. The driver was a nice guy who was pretty fluent in English, which I'm sure was a prerequisite for the job.

Anyway, back in those days the number of enlisted aides that any general had was based on his number of stars -- an aide for each star. The Air Force changed that rule a few years later and the officer then had to be a major general (two stars) before he got one aide. I don't know what the rules are today but I suppose they're something similar.

I assume the admiral (Vice Admiral Beshany, in my day) also had enlisted aides but I don't remember much of anything about them. He also had a ROC driver.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Navy Coveralls?

I received an email from ROC Navy LTJG Tiu a couple of days ago. He asked if there was any way to purchase US Navy coveralls anywhere besides the Exchange. He and some others would like to purchase a few of them.

I told him that I didn't know of any sources, but that I'd post his request here. If you have any ideas, you can either post them here or contact LTJG Tiu directly. Type the following address in the "To:" block of whatever email program you're using:

Here's a portion of the text of his message:

I am a LTJG in the Navy of Taiwan (ROC). I have read the articles on your blog and felt proud and suprised about the connection between US and Taiwan throught the history.

Some of my crew would like to buy the navy blue coveralls from the Navy Exchange. Some officers in the Navy got those coveralls when they participated in [a project in North Carolina]. Because of the coveralls' great quality, some of my crew would like to get them as well. However, most military on-line shops don't sell the kind sold in NEX, and the Navy Exchange requires US military identity and SSN to access.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Celebration

George sent me the link to this video, showing the 1/1/2009 fireworks display at Taipei 101. Very spectacular!