Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Monday, August 31, 2009

Slides of Taiwan 1968-1969

As long as I'm on a YouTube kick, I thought you might enjoy seeing this slide presentation that I found from 1968-1969.

Chuck, the photographer, was apparently assigned to Taipei Air Station and most of the slides were taken in and around the Taipei area. It runs for about four and a half minutes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Film Clip of Taipei During the 1950s

If the Babel Fish text translator is correct, that's what this short film clip on YouTube is about. The quality isn't great, but there are still some great images from back in the day. The actual title: 民國50年代的台北街頭

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Little League International World Series

I'm watching Taiwan ("Chinese Taipei") play Mexico in the International Little League Championship.

  • Top of the 2nd inning and Taiwan just scored the first run of the game.
  • Taipei scores another run! (2-0)
  • The Taiwan pitcher throws a 73 MPH fastball! The announcer says that's equivalent to 95 MPH in the major leagues! After two innings, still 2-0.
  • You DON'T want to make any errors against this team because they'll make you pay. They've obviously been well coached on playing fundamental baseball. Top of the 3rd inning, bases loaded, score now 3-0.
  • Taiwan leaves three on base in the top of the 3rd inning. Score now 4-0. These kids could beat the Cubs. Actually, I think my Sunday school class could beat the Cubs.
  • Three up and three down for Mexico in the bottom of the 3rd. Score still 4-0 Taiwan. The kids from Taiwan look like they're having fun and enjoying themselves.
  • Mexico scores 2 runs in the 4th inning. Score 4-2 Taiwan. Felt sorry for the Taiwan catcher who made a couple of very rare errors.
  • Taiwan at bat in the top of the 5th. Three outs. Looks like both teams are settled in.
  • Error on the Taiwan shortstop. Mexico runner on first base.
  • Double play! Then a ground-out to short. Still 4-2 after 5 and heading for the final inning. It has started raining and the field lights have been turned on.
  • Taiwan coach gathers team before the sixth inning: "Let's bring victory home!"
  • Taiwan has a runner on 2nd. Still raining, but apparently not hard enough to stop the game. Wild pitch, runner advances to third. Batter walks -- runners now at first and third with one out. Mexico sending in a relief pitcher.
  • Stand-up double down the 3rd base line scores two runs. Now 6-2 Taiwan. Raining harder now.
  • Rain delay. The grounds crew covers the infield.
  • Rain delay
  • Rain delay
  • Rain delay
  • ZZzzz....
  • "How much of human life is lost in waiting." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "Between the wish and the result lies waiting." -- Unknown
  • "People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting." -- French proverb
  • The rain has finally stopped. The players are ready. Play ball!
  • Error in the outfield; ball drops between players. Taiwan has runner on first with two outs. Hit-errors-two runs score! Score is 9-2 Taiwan.
  • Popped out to 2nd baseman. Three outs. Going to the bottom of the 6th (final) inning with Taiwan leading 9-2.
  • Mexico punches a single through the infield.
  • Drive to center field. Run scores. Batter goes to second. Score 9-3. Runners at 2nd and 3rd, no outs.
  • Batter strikes out. One out.
  • Ground ball to short. Runner out at first. One run scores. Runner at third. Two outs.
  • Close play at first; runner safe (on a VERY bad call!). Score 9-4. Two outs.
  • Batter strikes out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Job at USTDC, Such As It Was

It occurred to me today that in the previous 433 posts I've made here, I've said very little about my job at TDC. It probably has something to do with the fact that the personnel field isn't all that glorious to begin with. I mean if you ask a special forces guy what he does, he'll come up with something suitably impressive like, "I neutralize threats and break things." I'd have to say something like, "I typed and filed a lot and told people they couldn't have what they wanted." It's just doesn't have the same macho ring to it, does it?

I completed basic training in August of 1962 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. I have two clear memories of that place: We got yelled at constantly and there was no air conditioning. I'm sure there must have been other things going on, but I can't remember any of them right now.

Anyway I was then sent off to a small base in Mississippi (that ceased to exist decades ago, by the way) to learn all about processing records, assignments, job classifications, awards and decorations, military pay, and a host of other tasks. Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

So after I mastered all the blocks of instruction, more or less, I was sent forth over the next ten years or so to apply my skills in places like Okinawa, Florida, California, and Colorado. Some time in 1973 I received word that I was going to a joint service outfit in Taipei, which turned out to be USTDC and that was fine with me. The Air Force had some really nasty remote areas where I could have been sent and I figured that 15 months in Taipei beat the heck out of 12 months in some other cold and lonely places I knew about.

So on my first day at TDC, the guy I was replacing explained the kinds of things I would be dealing with there. It was like stepping onto a new planet; almost none of it was what I'd been trained to do. And what the heck was a quarterdeck anyway? But I vowed to soldier on, or whatever it was that we Air Force people were supposed to do.

One of the first things he introduced me to was something called a staff summary sheet. Now I'd heard of these things but I never actually had to deal with one before. In a nutshell, for those who've never had the pleasure, it is a sort of routing sheet that you attached to some document that you're sending to someone else, usually higher in the food chain, so they know what the item is, why they should care about it, and what they're being asked to do with it.

At this point, I should explain that at TDC I worked for an Army lieutenant colonel. His boss was a Navy captain (06). The captain's boss was an Air Force brigadier general who also had the additional duty as commander of all the Air Force guys at TDC. Of course the general's boss was the Navy vice admiral.

So here's how the staff summary sheet worked in practice: Let's say I got an immunization roster from our (Air Force) support unit in Hawaii. On it would be a list of names of our Air Force guys who were due for an immunization booster shot or some such thing. I'd contact each one and give him a card to take over to the hospital where they'd get the shot, bring the card back and I'd check them off the list. No problem so far.

The problem arose because the roster itself had a line at the bottom for the unit commander's signature, certifying that everyone received the shots they were due. Now on a normal base, I'd just trot over to the commander's office, ask him to sign the thing, and then drop it in the mail. Life wasn't that simple at TDC because my commander was The General.

So I'd fill out the top of the summary sheet with date, a title that I'd make up, the regulatory authority for the action (which I usually had to scramble around to find), and several other blocks of information so that everyone in the chain up to the general could see what was needed. They would then scribble their chop in the appropriate block and send it forward.

However, it wasn't at all unusual for documents to come bouncing back because one of those in the chain had a question that I hadn't addressed sufficiently or there was something they wanted me to change on the SSS. So I'd make the changes and route the package back up again. Sometimes it would come back again because someone higher in the chain wanted another change made. Something as simple as a shot roster could take days to work its way up and down the system.

The funny thing is that I don't think anybody really cared about the thing. They just wanted to be sure that if their boss had a question, they'd be able to answer it.

So I guess you could say that much of my time at TDC was spent explaining the obvious about the unimportant to the disinterested.

That was my job.

What about yours?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Google Steet View In Taipei

I noticed this morning on Michael Turton's View From Taiwan blog that the folks at Google are collecting and publishing their Street View images of Taipei. They're actually in the process of covering much of Taiwan, but they've already covered most of the capital city.

If you're not familiar with Street View, you just point your browser to and then -- in this case -- enter this string in the box and press the Search Maps button: Section 3, Jhongshan North Rd, Jhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104. That will give you this image. That "A" marker is almost exactly at the former entrances to the east and west HSA compounds.

Place your cursor on that Street View image in the white box and you'll see the image shown below. Notice the green construction fence to your right where the Art Park (former east compound) is undergoing renovation. The blue fence to the left is in front of the sports stadium that is located in the area of the former west compound.

The really cool thing about Street View is that if you click ahead on that yellow line, you'll "drive" to that point. You can also turn 360 degrees and look at everything near your location.

For example, if you turn around from your starting point and then follow the yellow line south, you'll find yourself in front of the Caves (aka Lin Kou) bookstore where we used to buy all those good, inexpensive books, records and tapes.

If you turn around and head back north again (gawking left and right as you go, of course), you can go past the American Club (aka Club 63, aka China Seas).

If you find any other interesting spots, please share 'em!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ford Garage 1949

Titojohn alerted me to this photo from the Life Magazine archives. It was taken around the same time (and by the same photographer) as the "Guest House" photo that I posted earlier. As Jim pointed out, the Guest House had some 1946 Fords parked in front. So where did one go in 1949 Taipei to buy a new Ford? Why the Ford dealer of course!

My question is whether this was an authentic Ford dealer or was it just an auto repair shop that "appropriated" the Ford logo. I'm inclined to think it's authentic because I believe that's about a 1949 Ford (Woody?) Station Wagon sitting on the lot and I also see "Mercury" in the striping at the top of the building's wall.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yet Another Bird Sighting

Titojohn alerted me to this shot of TDC's C-118 aircraft. I never left Taiwan during my 15 month tour, but many at TDC rode this bird to other shopping meccas like Hong Kong. I sometimes "house sat" for TDC families who were making those trips.

The funny thing is that back in 1963-64, when I was stationed at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, I caught a hop on a C-47 to Taipei for a shopping trip. I was able to get a hop back to Kadena on a C-130 whose pilot and crew had flown to Taipei (on a "training mission" I'm sure). They came to the standby counter right after they landed and offered several of us a ride home if we'd help them load all the furniture and other stuff that they intended to buy.

By the way, even with the earplugs they gave us, the C-130 was by far the noisiest aircraft I ever flew in!

Monday, August 17, 2009

USTDC Building Evolution

Good old Titojohn came up with a much better quality photo of the first photo below. He also learned that it was actually taken in 1949. As he pointed out, the lettering over the main entrance reads "Taipei Guest House" and the photo ID at the Life archive says that it was a "Guest house where exilers are temporarily put up."

I've replaced the image that was here so you can get a better look at it. Just click on the image to see the full size version.
One other thing: The new photo reveals that what I thought was a park looks more like a storage dump. You can see what appear to be logs and other (building?) materials there.


I don't think I've ever before seen this Life Magazine photograph of the USTDC building. It was taken somewhere around 1950. I would very much like to know what it was being used for at that time, since USTDC had not yet been established, but it's clearly the same building. The area that became the front parking lot looks like it might have been a garden or park at that time.

The next photo shows what the area looked like ten years later. The park, or whatever it was, became the front parking lot. The entryway walls were removed and the entrance was moved several yards further up the driveway.

The last photo shows the building as it appeared around the late 1970s. The shot was taken from the southwest corner of the main parking lot, with the main entrance at the center of the photo.

Among other changes, note that in the first photo there was no cover over the steps to the main entrance. In the second photo there was what appears to be a corrugated steel awning, and by the 1970s, when I was there, the awning was replaced by a permanent roof.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Award of Navy and Marine Corps Medal

During the summer of 1961, CT3 Robert G. Harris was presented with the Navy and Marine Corps Medal by VADM Roland N. Smoot in front of the main entrance to USTDC. He was offered the opportunity to fly off to Washington to be presented the award by the Secretary of the Navy, but he would have none of it.

If you didn't already know, the Navy and Marine Corps Medal is awarded to service members who, while serving in any capacity with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguish themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. Typically, it is awarded for actions involving the risk of one's own life. The Airman's Medal, the Soldier's Medal and the Coast Guard Medal are the equivalent awards for the other services.

Robert told me that there was a hostel fire and he was credited with getting everyone out. He was in the day room with a couple of other guys when they saw smoke. The other two ran to call the fire department, but Robert remembered seeing several guys who had returned from an evening on the town and he went from room to room waking everyone up and carrying, kicking and shoving them outside.

He reentered the building several times and was inside when the roof collapsed. He remembers that he made it out the back of the building but doesn't remember whether it was through a door, window or just a burned opening. He then hopped over a (broken glass covered) wall and helped some of the locals get their belongings out of their homes as well. By the time he returned to the hostel, searchers were looking for his body which, fortunately, was positioned vertically, alive and well, in front of them. There were no casualties.

He believes that the old hostel was located somewhere between the Navy Club and the Club 63.

He says that his biggest concern at the time was losing the stack of gifts that he'd bought to send home for Christmas.

Good on ya', Robert.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Linkou Annex Menu

I received a note from Ted Walker, who was an ETR2 in J-6 at TDC from April 1968 to July 1969. He talked about how much he enjoyed his tour and how he's still in touch with several swabbies from back in the day. He also enjoyed working with the Army techs and communicating via TTY with the folks on Grass Mountain.

He mentioned that HSA had a rugby squad and several guys from TDC, including Ted, played for the team. Are those bumper stickers right when they say it takes leather balls to play rugby? Just wondering.

Anyway, he sent along some scans of a few pages from the Linkou Club food menu. Sorta makes your mouth water, doesn't it? Of course I'm talking about the prices. The food was pretty good too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

1963 Taiwan Videos

John Quinn alerted me to three very nice videos of Taiwan in 1963. They appear to have been taken by one or more Air Force guys, and the uniforms certainly are from that period. I remember the "TI" style fatigue caps that some of the guys were wearing, and which I also wore at that time at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Also one of the guys is wearing his Air Force raincoat over civilian clothes, which was authorized and commonly done at the time.

But the real value of these videos is the images of the people of Taiwan. There are shots of men, women, kids, farmers, Taiwan soldiers (officer and enlisted), trucks, taxis, pedicabs, fields, rice paddies, women washing clothes in a river and lots of other interesting things. Did I mention kids?

These are a great historical record of the period and I know you'll all enjoy them as much as I have. You can find the videos here, here and here. If you recognize the locations, please let me know.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Typhoon Destruction

I just want to say to the good people of Taiwan that you are on my mind and in my prayers this morning as you begin to recover from the terrible destruction of Typhoon Morakot.

I understand that the storm triggered the worst flooding in Taiwan in 50 years, dumping as much as 80 inches (two meters) of rain, driven by winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour during this past weekend. More than 50 people have been confirmed dead with at least that many still reported as missing.

I am very sorry for your losses and I wish you all the best in the days ahead.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Passing of RADM Linder

I just learned that Rear Admiral (Retired) James Benjamin Linder, of Oro Valley, Arizona and formerly of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, died at 4:21 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. He was born on October 13, 1925, in Osceola, Iowa, to Merlin D. "Sarge" and Gracia I. McKay Linder. He graduated from Mount Pleasant High School and enlisted in the US Navy on May 18, 1943, in Des Moines, Iowa.

He is shown here receiving an award from US Ambassador Len Unger in Taipei.

Rear Admiral Linder was the last Commander of the US Taiwan Defense Command, arriving in 1977. He supervised and executed the withdrawal of all US military personnel and dependents from the island in 1979. Before retiring, he served under the CINCPAC from May to July, 1979.

Admiral Linder's obituary can be found here.

USTDC Commanders

Left to right: VADM Gentner, CNO ADM Moorer, Admiral Feng Chi-chung, Chinese Navy commander-in-chief

The last time I updated my list of the admirals who commanded USTDC was in April 2008. Though I've have never found any historical documents that contain a complete list, I believe these are fairly close.

Today I found a Time Magazine article from April 1964 that described President Johnson's new top command team and one of those mentioned was Vice Admiral William E. Gentner Jr. (misspelled as "Centner" in the first sentence of the article). I believe that he was the third COMUSTDC.

The article describes VADM Gentner as follows:

Vice Admiral William E. Centner Jr., 56, new commander of the Taiwan Defense Command on Nationalist Chinese Formosa. A taut, efficient planner and a professional perfectionist, Gentner demands that his subordinates be thinking men as well as fighting men, regularly flew "guest lecturers" out to speak aboard the big carriers when he was boss of the Sixth Fleet. Though Bill Gentner probably won't need it, there will be plenty of advice available to him on Formosa. U.S. Ambassador Jerauld Wright is a retired four-star admiral.

Once again, here's the list of COMUSTDC admirals that I've been able to find. If anyone has any additions or corrections to this list, please let me know.

Vice Adm. Charles L. Melson 1962 to 1964
Vice Adm. William E. Gentner Jr. 1964 to 1967
Vice Adm. John L. Chew 1967 to 1969
Vice Admiral Walter H. Baumberger: 1971-1972
Vice Admiral Philip A. Beshany:  Sep 1972 – Sep 1974
Vice Admiral Edwin K. Snyder:  Aug 1974 – Aug 1977
Rear Admiral James Linder:  1978 – 1979
Vice Admiral Doyle: ???? - ????

Monday, August 3, 2009

Intelligence Staff Photo

I recently located the above photograph that was labeled as the USTDC Intelligence Staff. I believe the shot was taken at the main entrance to TDC, somewhere between 1957 and 1959. The size of the group suggests to me that it may include more than just the J-2 folks, but perhaps someone who was there at the time can clarify that.

One of the individuals in the photo is LT Tom Hahn, who is in the center of the third (standing) row, behind another naval officer who is wearing glasses. Lieutenant Hahn, a Native American, had a remarkable military career, retiring from the Navy as a Captain in June, 1972. You can find a summary of his military career, with many great photos here.

For more information about the history of the Lenape-Delaware, be sure to visit this site as well.

Many thanks to Chris Hahn, Tom's son, for sharing information about his dad and the tribal history.

If any of you recognize other faces in this photograph and have information you could share about them, please let me know.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I found one other small snippet of film from the day I attended a sports car rally put on by the Taipei Area Sports Car Club. I don't know what kind of car this was nor the name of the driver. You can see a couple of military trucks that appear to be very close to the action.