Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Black Marketing in Taiwan

Another hat tip today to John Quinn for identifying the Google News Archives as a resource for articles about Taiwan. There was a story in the August 21, 1965 edition of the Deseret Times (Salt Lake City, I believe) about black marketing in Taiwan that I've clipped and added below. You can click on each section to view a larger and easier to read image.

By the time I arrived at TDC in 1973, I don't recall that this was a major issue. On the other hand, as an unaccompanied guy who rarely used the commissary or the liquor store, I probably wouldn't have been impacted by it as much as many others.

I'd like to hear comments from the rest of you about this. Of course anyone directly involved in this practice would probably not want to discuss it, but what about not being able to find items in the exchange or commissary because it was finding its way to embassies or to retailers in Taipei?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Google Newspaper Archives

John Quinn alerted me to the fact that Google News can find archived newspaper articles on most any subject. Just go to and enter whatever subject you're interested in.

For example, if you enter "US Taiwan Defense Command" (in quotes), you'll be told that the search did not identify any documents. However, if you look further down the page, you'll see "Try Google News Archive Search." Click on that and you'll see a chart of all the available articles, shown by year, followed by a listing of links.

The bad news is that many of the available articles are from the New York Times, which charges $3.95 for any article that you want to read. The good news is that there are several other articles that are free.

John found these tidbits:

I found this article from April 30, 1979, describing the departure of RADM Linder and the remaining US military members from Taipei.

I doubt that I'll spring for any of the premium articles, but if I see something especially interesting, I may change my mind.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Seriously Off Topic

This has nothing at all to do with Taiwan, except perhaps for the movie theaters there, but I just couldn't resist passing this important information along to all of you.

Every now and then I walk over to the local multiplex to see a movie. Yesterday I caught the new Star Trek film -- not too bad, by the way. It ran a little over two hours and because I usually get a bag of popcorn and a big old soda before the show, I started getting a, "uncomfortable" an hour or so into the movie. Of course I didn't want to miss anything important so I just toughed it out until the credits started rolling.

By happy coincidence, today a friend alerted me to a website that provides a solution to such dilemmas! It's called, appropriately, It screens most films for those scenes where you can leave for about three minutes and then return to your seat without missing anything important. If you want to know what's in those three minutes, the site will tell you what you missed. Brilliant!

Of course you could just wait for it to come out on DVD and watch it at home, but what fun would that be?

I hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend as we honor our brothers and sisters in arms who didn't make it back home.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

360 Degree Taipei Images

Sarj alerted me to a really neat website called It contains images from all over the world that are in a 360-degree format, meaning that the photographer stood in one spot and then turned around as he captured the images. You can use your mouse to turn each image by holding down the left key (on PCs) and dragging to the left, right, up or down. You can also use your arrow keys to do the same thing.

There are many of these images in the Taipei area, including the Taipei Artistic Park, where the East Compound used to be, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum near the spot where USTDC was located and the Taipei Story House, which is just to the west of the Art Museum.

Sung Shan Air Force Base is located at the airport at which most of us arrived in Taipei and from which we returned to the States or to our next overseas assignment.

Of course across the river from TDC was The Grand Hotel and just up the road from there is the Taipei Martyrs' Shrine.

You'll likely want to explore other parts of Taipei and the rest of Taiwan, as well as other cities around the world. I know I will.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

PRC-Taiwan Police Exchange?

This has nothing directly to do with USTDC, but I thought it might be of interest to other Taiwan vets.

There is a report that police officers from China may be stationed in Taiwan and police officers from Taiwan may be stationed in China. The Taiwan Crime Investigation Bureau says that they are moving in that direction but that there are no firm plans at this time. An article from the Taipei Times can be found at this link.

Some Taiwan bloggers have suggested that if such an exchange occurs then it would be just a matter of time before there were military exchanges as well, which could eventually lead to a Chinese domination of Taiwan without firing a single shot. Obviously this is a very controversial and complicated issue and such exchanges may not happen for a very long time, if at all.

I know that we Taiwan vets are from another time, but I think most of us would probably prefer to see a free and independent Taiwan that is recognized by other nations of the world as a sovereign state, free from outside interference by any other nation, including China. It's one thing to encourage closer ties between these two countries, but quite another to allow Chinese police officers to exercise legal authority over the good citizens of Taiwan.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Jim Sartor wrote about the entertainers that used to play the Club 63 and elsewhere on Taiwan:

Does anyone remember any of the great entertainers that came through the club circuit in Taipei?
My wife and I even saw Roy Orbison at the 63 one night. Can't imagine seeing someone like that today for free!
Here's a pic of a young group we met personally and had over to our home a couple of times. Always wondered what happened to them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

General Sutterlin

Air Force Brigadier General Frederick J. Sutterlin was the fifth USTDC Chief of Staff, arriving in 1962.

I received a note from his son Fred a few days ago and he shared these photos. The first one is his father's desk name plate. He asked if anyone might know the significance of the figure on the gong.
The second photo is of the brass fishing boat that Fred received from members of an English class he taught at the Chinese Officers' Language School during the six months he lived in Taiwan. After those six months, he returned to the States to continue his own studies.

He remembered that when they arrived in Taipei during June of 1962, they stayed for a while at a place called "Seven Seas Villa" until they found quarters on Grass Mountain. He even recalled the members of his father's house staff: Ho, Yo and Tsu.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My First Day in Taipei

I've gone through a bit of a dry spell recently with nothing much to add here. I guess that's not too surprising since I've been writing this blog longer (19 months) than I actually spent at TDC (15 months).

But today I took another look at the picture of the old Linkou Club (below) and remembered that there was a small hotel just east of there, either next door or a couple of doors down, which was where I stayed for a few days after my arrival. My sponsor met me at the airport and I think we took a taxi to the hotel. I got checked in, took my bag up to the room, and then my sponsor and I went to the Linkou for a tall, cool one.

I had just spent five years in Colorado, so the heat and humidity of Taipei were quite a shock. Throw in a bad case of jet lag and I was one pretty fuzzy tech sergeant that day.

I clearly remember that the Linkou Club was a whole lot cooler than outside. We went upstairs to the bar and what I remember most was that as soon as the beer was poured in the glass, ice crystals formed in it. I haven't had a beer in several years, but I think the Budweiser that I drank on that hot day in Taipei in 1973 may have been the best I ever tasted.

My sponsor told me to take the rest of the day off and come to the office the next morning, so I went back to the hotel for a shower and a nap. Two minutes later there was a knock on the door and a young lady -- okay, maybe not all that young -- came in, sat down and suggested that I find an apartment for the two of us. All I really wanted was just to grab some sleep but she continued to negotiate. I eventually convinced her to leave and I think I slept straight through until about 6:00 the next morning. I don't think I ever saw her again.

Anyway, I can't remember the name of the hotel and I was wondering if any of you guys remember it. It was small and I remember that my room was on the second floor. I can't say if there were any other floors above it.

Also, if you'd like to describe your first day (some of you already have), either comment below or if it's lengthy, just send me an email and I'll post it. Be sure to include the year you arrived.