Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

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.


Anonymous said...

And today the no-memory, brain dead, of the world are giving Jimmy Carter prizes and calling him the "greatest president"!

The world is indeed a sorry place today for those of us who DO remember the "little peanut farmer" and the real damage he did to the world!!!!!

Jim Sartor

Don said...

You could easily argue that another part of his legacy was getting Egyptian President Anwar Saddat assassinated by "The Muslim Brotherhood" because of the Camp David Accords with Israel.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Anonymous said...

Hey Don, don't leave out the 17 and 18 percent interest we had; don't forget the fiasco when he screwed up the hostage rescue in Tehran! Great man,yeah sure!!

He did find something he could do however, he found he can nail 2 boards together. He had lot of experience tearing down the U.S. economy I guess.

Jim Sartor

Anonymous said...

I have often reflected on Carter's legacy. As much as I admired him as a person (honest, humble, non-elitist), his lack of resolve with Iran (should have given them 24 hr ultimatum), the Egpytian-Israeli 'peace' acord (we still pay app. $3 Billion bribe anually to each country), and of course the $1 a gallon gas with high inflation. The only thing he can say he accomplished is the homes he built via Habitat for Humanity.

John Hurst

Anonymous said...

And Jim, you're wrong. He can't nail 2 boards together either.
"RESIDENTS of a model housing estate bankrolled by Hollywood celebrities and hand-built by Jimmy Carter, the former US president, are complaining that it is falling apart."

Don said...

Gosh, there don't seem to be many Carter fans around here at the USTDC blog! Can't understand why.

justme said...

I am a Carter fan! while respecting someone's choice to be "anonymous" I do have to wonder about the vitriol towards Mr. Carter? I can surely understand having what must have been a charmed life pulled out from under you but some of the blame you lay is completely inaccurate and certainly the economic blame cannot be laid at his feet( how much do you think the Vietnam war cost?). I wonder what exactly people feel the purpose would have been in remaining as we were on Taiwan? How long do you think we could have continued to ignore a behemoth(PRC) and pretend that the puppet government on the tiny island was really going to return home and regain control of the motherland(forgive me but I'm translating certain words propaganda from films of my childhood on Taiwan and one I saw on this site from the Mandarin. Speaking the language I think gave me an "in" that others missed while living there. And as for those films, even from a child's perspective, they were ridiculous). If my history serves me correctly, and my memory is still in tact, it was in fact Mr. Nixon who started this ball rolling with China and then got caught in his crime so left the ball dangling to the inept Mr.Ford whose great achievement was to pardon his predecessor. I won't even touch the hostage crisis as I was in Tehran in latter 1975 and the regime that had our support was not very popular with the locals even then. But that was the situation when I lived on Taiwan as well. I find that in researching these "screw ups" they usually don't have their beginnings with those who get blamed for them but have their genesis sometime beforehand.