Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Walking Tours of Taipei

A couple of months ago I mention that Kent Mathieu (Taipei Air Station blog and website) has been posting videos to YouTube of his walks around Taipei.  He has now done several of these videos, pointing out where things are (or used to be) located.  The most recent video (30 Sep 2010) is a walk along Sung Shan North road in the vicinity of the hostels and HSA compounds.

You can find his videos HERE, and I've also added an item under "Taiwan Links of Interest" in the right-hand column of this blog.  Look for "Kent Mathieu's walking tours of present-day Taipei."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Current Yangmingshan Housing Photos

Scott has posted several great photos of the former Yangmingshan American military C-Area housing units.  Click HERE to view the images.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Where Was This Sign?

Old friend Marc told me about this photo that may have been taken sometime during the 1950s.

I don't remember this sign at all when I was there in 1973-74 and I'm wondering where it was located and what direction it was facing.  I assume it was in or near the east or west compound.  The arrows on the sign provide some clues, showing that the Club 63 and the hospital are to the left, with Finance and the commissary to the right.  But the sign on the building to the left of the sign appears to read "Hospital," suggesting this was before the Naval Hospital was built in Tien Mou.  Someone once commented here that the hospital was originally in one of the compounds until the new one was built.  Was the Club 63 ever located somewhere near the compound area instead of just across the river and to the right of the Grand Hotel?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

History of U.S. Military Assistance to Taiwan -- 1950-1959, Part 3

Today I'm wrapping up the history of U.S. military assistance to Taiwan during the period 1950-1959.  As I mentioned earlier, the source for this information was a Joint Chiefs of Staff report from 1961.  It filled in a lot of gaps in the information I had and I hope that it does the same for readers of this blog as well.

One thing I neglected to mention yesterday is that while Vice Admiral Ingersoll was Commander of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command, he was also Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, according to Naval records.  That seems odd to me and I could find no explanation for it.

On 5 September 1958, as Communist pressure against the offshore islands continued to mount, CINCPAC informed the JCS that he must have a single commander in the Taiwan area who was directly responsible to him.  CINCPAC then noted the proposed command relationships set forth in his plan to counter Chinese aggression in the vicinity of Taiwan without American use of nuclear weapons.  Under this arrangement, the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, would exercise operational control over the forces allocated for the execution of his assigned task.  He was to exercise this control through the chief of the advisory group, the Commander, Taiwan Patrol Force, and the Commander, 13th Air Task Force (Provisional).  The commander of the defense command also would coordinate the activities of American forces assigned to support his efforts.  Finally, he was to coordinate the actions of American and Chinese Nationalist forces.  (CINCPAC msg to JCS, 050330Z Sep 58 (CCS 381 Formosa, 11-8-48, Section 38A)

Three days later, in a message to the Chief of Naval Operations, CINCPAC elaborated upon his system of command relationships.  The Air Force subordinate commander, he pointed out, would be assigned the responsibilities of Air Defense Commander.  Should the JCS prefer to establish a joint task force to deal with the current emergency, CINCPAC would be equally satisfied.  If such a task force were created, however, he would propose the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, as its commander, with the Commander, Taiwan Patrol Force, as Navy task group commander, the Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group, as Army task group commander, and the Commander 13th Air Task Force as Air Force task group and air defense commander.  Whatever the arrangement, the chief of the advisory group would remain responsible for the functions of that organization (CINCPAC msg to CNO, 082010Z Sep 58 (CCS 381 Formosa, 11-8-48, Section 38A).

At their meeting on 9 September 1958, the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred in the CINCPAC recommendation that the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, become the commander of a unified subordinate command comprising all force assigned for the accomplishment of his mission.  The JCS message sent on the following day designated the Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group, as subordinate Army commander, the Commander, Taiwan Patrol Force, as subordinate Navy commander, and the Commander, 13th Air Task Force, as subordinate Air Force commander with responsibility as air defense commander.  Advisory group personnel were excluded from the Army forces under the operational control of the Taiwan Defense Command (JCS 2118/114, Note by the Secretaries to the JCS on the Establishment of U.S. Taiwan Defense Command, with enclosure, dtd 10 Sep 58; JCS msg to ComNavPhil, JCS 947808, dtd 10 Sep 58 (CCS 381 Formosa, 11-8-48, Section 39).

While the American forces, except for the advisory group, were being brought under the operational control of the Taiwan Defense Command, the separation of the Military Assistance Advisory Group and the defense command staffs continued.  On 24 September, the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command/Military Assistance Advisory Group directed the continuation on an interim basis of the organizational plan used during the recent emergency (ComUSTDC/MAAG Coordinating Authority Instruction 5400.4, dtd 24 Sep 58, Appendix 5 to Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436).   CINCPAC, however, continued to urge completion of the consolidation begun in March 1958 (Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436).

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, unable to agree on the completion of the merger, on 8 May 1959 forwarded their views to the Secretary of Defense.  The Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, objected to the consolidation because the two commands involved had radically different duties.  Although they agreed that an operational command which excluded advisory personnel had been necessary during the 1958 crisis, they recommended that the Taiwan Defense Command be replaced by a planning and liaison group as soon as the existing tensions had eased.  The Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps recommended the approval of the CINCPAC plan of consolidation, provided that, when the advisory group's duties were divided along functional staff lines, the separate service sections be retained as major subordinate staff components.  Those who favored the proposal believed that its acceptance would simplify the military structure on Taiwan and of the Pacific unified command, establish a single headquarters to deal with the Chinese, simplify command lines and insure unity of effort, and reduce facilities as well as the number of Americans needed on Taiwan (JCSM 175-59 to SecDef, with appendices, dtd 8 May 59 (JMF 5166, 9 Jan 59).

The Secretary of Defense, after studying the divergent views and holding additional discussions with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed the Chairman on 15 June that consolidation did not appear desirable.  On 8 July, the Joint Chiefs of Staff informed CINCPAC that the Taiwan Defense Command and the Military Assistance Advisory Group were to remain separate but that this decision did not affect CINCPAC's authority to select a senior officer at Taiwan as his representative (JCS 1259/477, Note by the Secretaries to the JCS on Consolidation of Command Structure on Taiwan, with enclosure, dtd 26 Jun 59; Decision on JCS 1259/477, dtd 8 Jul 59 JCS msg to CINCPAC,JCS 962043, dtd 8 Jul 59 (JMF 5166 9 Jan 59).

The decision to abandon the uncompleted program of consolidation had, in the opinion of CINCPAC, no effect on the existing Military Assistance Advisory Group agreement with the Nationalist Government.  The principal change was the separation of military assistance activities from the Taiwan Defense Command, a planning and operational headquarters.  The status of the defense command also was unchanged, save that its commander would have no additional responsibility toward the advisory group CINCPAC msg to AsstSecDef (Public Affairs), 010154Z Aug 59 (JMF 5166, 9 Jan 59).


The Military Assistance Advisory Group, Taiwan, encountered some opposition from Nationalist authority.  The reorganization of the Chinese logistical effort, the decreasing of the authority of political commissars, and the attempt to convince higher echelons not to interfere in the conduct of their subordinates were elements of the American program that held little appeal for the Generalissimo.  The advisors, however, did succeed in vastly increasing the Nationalist combat capability (Historical Division, JCS, History of the Formosa Situation, dtd 15 Sep 55, Series B, pp. 321-326).

Because of the need to coordinate Chinese and American efforts in defense of the island, the advisory group formed a liaison center, which was expanded by CINCPAC into the Taiwan Defense Command.  The defense command provided CINCPAC with direct access to the Chinese high command and enabled him to keep abreast of Nationalist plans.  Since it dealt primarily with planning for the Sino-American defense of Taiwan, attempts to enlarge the scope of the defense command to include the advisory group's duties of providing military assistance met with no success.  The crisis of September 1958 emphasized the essential differences between the Taiwan Defense Command and the Military Advisory Group, and in the following year the Secretary of Defense decided that the two organization should not be consolidated.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

History of U.S. Military Assistance to Taiwan -- 1950-1959, Part 2

Today I'm continuing with the history of the U.S. Military Advisory Group (MAAG) and the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command (USTDC) as described in the Joint Chiefs of Staff report "Selected Aspects of U.S. Military Assistance" dated 13 December 1961. This section deals directly with the creation of USTDC.

United States Taiwan Defense Command
RADM Frank Fenno
As early as October 1952, the Military Assistance Advisory Group, Taiwan, had established a Formosa Liaison Center which was responsible for the coordination and liaison needed to plan, prepare for, and execute any possible operations, including combined training, that might involve the use of Sino-American forces in defense of the island.  The Liaison Center was subordinate to MAAG, Taiwan, until April 1955, when CINCPAC (who had acquired responsibility for the defense of Formosa) directed the commander of the newly created Formosa Defense Command (U.S.) to take over responsibility for the Formosa Liaison Center.  The latter designation was retained as a cover title for the defense command until 1 November 1955 when it was abandoned in favor of the more appropriate designation, U.S. Taiwan Defense Command.  By the end of 1955, CINCPAC had converted the former Liaison Center of the advisory group in a joint headquarters that had direct access to the highest military and administrative councils of the Nationalist government. (Appendix 2 to Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436, Note by the Secretaries to the JCS on Command Structure on Taiwan, dtd 9 Jan 59; CINCPAC msg to Com TDC 232248Z Apr 55 (381 Formosa, 11-8-48, Section 23))
VADM Stuart Ingersoll

[NOTE:  As I mentioned a few days ago in my Formosa Liaison Center piece RADM Frank Fenno was Commander of the Formosa Liaison Center in 1955 until it was renamed USTDC and VADM Ingersoll assumed command of the organization.  VADM Ingersoll was Commander from 1955 until 1957.]

The Consolidation of the Military Assistance Advisory Group with the Taiwan Defense Command

By the end of 1957, in keeping with the current views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, CINCPAC began planning the eventual merger of all American commands on Taiwan into a single headquarters under the Taiwan Defense Command.  As the Nationalists became better able to defend the island, the advisory group, it was believed, would gradually shift from offering guidance on the technical and tactical levels to providing advice at higher echelons and instruction in managerial techniques.  CINCPAC became convinced that a consolidated joint staff would be better able to provide the Chinese the assistance that they would need. (Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436)

The first CINCPAC directives concerning the consolidation were issued in March 1958.  These directives, based upon decisions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, marked the beginning of a two-phase program.  Effective that month, CINCPAC redesignated the Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, as Commander, Taiwan Defense Command/Military Assistance Advisory Group.  The Chief, Military Assistance Advisory Group, who retained his old title, was also to serve as Deputy Commander, Taiwan Defense Command, while the former deputy commander assumed a new role as deputy commander and chief of the consolidated joint staff.  Since the senior Army officer had just reached Taiwan and the new senior naval officer was about to depart, CINCPAC did not anticipate a further merging of the command until February 1959 (Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436).

During the first few months following its consolidation, the combined Taiwan Defense Command/Military Assistance Advisory Group found itself in something of an anomalous  position, for the only American military organization officially recognized by the Nationalist Government was the advisory group, which was now a subordinate element of the defense command and not the echelon for dealing with the higher authorities of the Nationalist Government.  This problem seemed capable of solution, however.  In January 1959, CINCPAC reported to the JCS that "an interim agreement recognizing non-MAAG units on Taiwan and giving them status parallel to that of the MAAG is in the mill and should be signed shortly." (CINCPAC msg to JCS, 102243Z Jan 59 (JMF5166, 9 Jan 59, Group No. 1))

The program of consolidation was temporarily suspended after the Chinese Communists, in August 1958, began an intensive bombardment of the Nationalist-held offshore islands.  Because of the immediate threat, the separate defense command and advisory group staffs were re-established, so that both could operate at top speed.  The combined title, however, was retained.  (Enclosure A to JCS 1259/436)

(To be concluded tomorrow)

Monday, September 20, 2010

History of U.S. Military Assistance to Taiwan -- 1950-1959, Part 1

I recently found a report titled "Selected Aspects of U.S. Military Assistance."  As the title suggests, it was an overview of U.S. military assistance to various nations.  It was prepared by the Historical Division, Joint Secretariat, Joint Chiefs of Staff and was dated 13 December 1961.  It was originally classified Top Secret, but was declassified in 1993.

Part of the document discusses the history of U.S. military assistance to "China (Taiwan)" from 1950-1959, which is the portion I'll be quoting from.  I have always had questions about the sequence of events that led to the formation of the Military Assistance Advisory Group and the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command, as well as the relationship between the two.  While some may find this topic dry and uninteresting, it clears up several of my questions and since this blog is really a historical account of USTDC, I think it's certainly appropriate to include the material here.

With the understanding that some may disagree with some of the account that follows, I am posting it almost entirely as it was written and any comments that I include will be clearly identified as such.  I am including all sources referenced in the report (shown in parentheses and italics).


Maj Gen Albert C. Wedemeyer
Major General Albert C. Wedemeyer, who in 1944 succeeded Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell as one of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's chiefs of staff, worked for the remainder of the war to train Chinese ground forces in the use of modern weapons.   In September 1945, Chinese Foreign Minister T.V. Soong discussed with President Harry S.Truman the possibility of postwar American military assistance.  Although President Truman agreed to provide such aid, no United States military mission was established until 20 February 1946.

On that date, the President directed the Secretaries of War and Navy to form a U.S. Military Advisory Group in China.  Composed of an Army and a Navy Advisory Group, this organization was to "...assist and advise the Chinese government in the development of modern armed forces for the fulfillment off those obligations which may devolve upon China under her international agreements, including the United Nations Organization, for the establishment of adequate control over liberated areas in China, including Manchuria and Formosa, and for the maintenance of internal peace and security." (US Department of State, U.S. Relations with China: with Special Reference to the Period 1944-1949 - Department of State, 1949, pp. 339-349, 939.)

In November 1947, the Secretary of State further empowered the head of the Army Advisory Group to advise Chiang Kai-shek on military matters on an "informal and confidential basis."  The United States, however, was unwilling to accept responsibility for the operations and strategic plans of the Chinese Nationalists, for the Military Advisory Group lacked the authority to direct operations or compel the execution of plans.  (Ibid., p. 324).

The Army and Navy Advisory Groups were succeeded on 1 November 1948 by the Joint United States Military Advisory Group -- China.  By the end of the year, however, the Joint Group was recalled.  Chinese Communist forces were mauling the Nationalists so severely that Major General David Barr, who had led the Army Advisory Group, now maintained that "only the active participation of United States troops could effect a remedy." (Ibid., p. 358)

Military Assistance Advisory Group, Taiwan

The inactivation of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory -- China and the retreat of Nationalist forces to the island of Taiwan temporarily ended the American program of military aid to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's government.  Instead, the Chinese hired a small group of retired American officers to assist them.  Official United States aid, however, was soon restored.

The outbreak on 25 June 1950 of the Korean War emphasized the danger to America's Pacific outpost line if Taiwan should fall to the Communists.  President Truman ordered the 7th Fleet to prevent any attack on Taiwan, while simultaneously halting Nationalist air and sea operations against the Communist-held Chinese mainland.  Shortly afterward, both Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble, commanding the 7th Fleet, and General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief, Far East, visited Taiwan.  Between 5 and 26 August, a joint survey group headed by Army Major General Alonzo Fox studied the state of Chiang's military forces to arrive at a list of equipment and technical support that should be provided to Free China.  As a result of the Fox Report, a military assistance advisory group was dispatched to Taiwan.

The Military Assistance Advisory Group, Taiwan, commanded by Army Major General William C. Chase, was authorized 67 Army, 4 Navy and 63 Air Force personnel.  Under the group's joint headquarters were Army, Navy and Air Force sections.  General Chase arrived at Taipei, Taiwan, on 1 May 1951 to begin carrying out his duties as the military member of a team, which was charged with insuring that all assistance granted the Chinese Nationalists was in furtherance of United States foreign policy.

Senior member of the team was the American Ambassador, who coordinated the activities of the other members, provided them with political advice, and conducted negotiations with the Nationalist government.  The task of coordinating economic affairs fell to the chief of the Economic Cooperation administration mission.  The Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group was responsible for directing and coordinating the military aid program and for making appropriate recommendations.

In executing this rather broad directive, the group chief was called upon to perform many tasks, not all of them purely military.  Among these were such tasks as coordinating with the Economic Cooperation Administration mission to insure that the Nationalists did not demand materiel available locally, determining the military needs of the Taiwan government, and assisting it in requesting, storing, maintaining, distributing and using the military equipment provided by the United States.  The group chief's military duties included the standardization of equipment, training methods, and doctrine, cooperation in the development of training programs, the establishment of any necessary American training detachments, and the filing of reports on the Nationalist forces' progress, status of training, and ability to use American equipment.

After its arrival at Taiwan, the advisory group was reorganized and expanded.  The original three Service sections proved inadequate, so a joint technical service section was created as a counterpart to, and for advising, the Nationalist Army's Combined Service Force, which comprised the medical, signal, engineer, ordnance, transportation, chemical, and quartermaster services.  A Headquarters Commandant, on the same level as the four section chiefs, was made responsible for the routine tasks necessary to support the group. Military Assistance Advisory Group officers assisted their counterparts within the Nationalist Ministry of National Defense and the general headquarters.  Special teams were created as needed to provide aid at service schools and in tactical units.
My next blog entry will describe the additional steps that lead to the formation of the United States Taiwan Defense Command and also TDC's evolving relationship with the Military Assistance Advisory Group.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Memories of 1963-64

Bill Amborn was at TDC during 1963-64 and provided this account of Typhoon Gloria:
I was assigned to TDC from the States and arrived as a PFC in the army in late August 1963.  I was billeted at Yangmingshan first.  I took a few snapshots of the TDC compound during Typhoon Gloria as I was in it those few days.  I just ran across the photos which I'd sent to my parents.

Being the new guy in my unit I was one of three of us to stay in the compound in our little office during the typhoon.  The photointerpreters, part of J2, were downstairs and boy, did we get flooded.  As the water started coming up we put sandbags outside the steel door leading out and sat around and played cards.
Later the water began gushing in above the sandbags and we got concerned about the thousands and thousands of maps we had of all of China and started to remove them from the lower shelves and put them up higher.  While we were casually working on this activity we heard a violent snapping sound and saw that the water pressure had bent the door.  Water was coming in like gang busters.  So we started scurrying as fast as we could bringing all the maps and tons of classified stuff upstairs.  The water kept coming up. Then it became obvious we were being weighed down by our fatigues so we stripped to underwear and continued.  Some of the duty people upstairs thought we were mad men.  Then the power went out and we had a few flashlights, etc, by which we kept carrying the equiment and papers upstairs.
In the end, before we had to stop, we were up to our shoulders in that wonderful, muddy water.  We saved everything needed to keep us operating after the clean-up and got the normal thanks for a job well done (nada).
Then the C-rations ran low and we had to go to one of the warehouses to get them.  So we peons stripped down to our scivvies and formed a line of guys to walk wherever we were led.  That way if the first guy fell in a hole or something, the second guy would know where it was.  Like walking in a mine field.  We got our boxes and carried them like you see African ladies carrying items - on our heads - because the water was up to our necks.  And so we traipsed back across.  During the walk back guys started talking about all the poisonous snakes and wondering (a) could snakes swim and (b) what's that over there?
Since stressful situations bring out the best and worst in us, one could expect being stuck in a building for a bit would do just that.  Sure enough, one of the officers was found to be stealing all the C-ration cookies.  That really got some of the guys hot and required some higher rank to assure us cookies would be equitably distributed.
Like everyone who went to Taiwan, I have a ton of memories, but the strongest one still is of walking over the bridge from TDC to Club 63 with Billy Cowan (Air Force) and Larry Dugan (Navy) and Billy telling us that Kennedy had just been shot.
Bill Amborn
8/63-5/64 USTDC

Friday, September 17, 2010

**Updated** 1969 Satellite Photo of Yangmingshan

LTC Scott Ellinger annotated the 1969 satellite image that I posted a couple of days ago to show the locations of the housing areas, the US Naval Hospital and "Quarters A," the home of the Commander, US Taiwan Defense Command (COMUSTDC).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

1969 Satellite Photo of Yangmingshan

The author of the website sent me a 1969 American CORONA satellite image of the Yangmingshan area that may be helpful for visualizing where things were once located.  Click on the image to view a much larger version.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Formosa Liaison Center

I've been corresponding with Tom Kirkland, retired Air Force tech sergeant, who was in Taipei during 1955-56.  He talked about the "Formosa Liaison Center," which sent me off in search of that unit.  I'm learning quite a lot and will be writing a piece later this week based on some declassified documents I've come across today.

Also, I'm adding RADM Fenno to the list of USTDC Commanders because he commanded the Formosa Liaison, which became the Formosa Defense Command for a few months before being renamed the US Taiwan Defense Command.  I'll go into more detail on that in my next article.

Here's what Tom had to say:

I was assigned to the Formosa Liaison Center/US Taiwan Defense Command from Sept. 1955 to Dec. 1956 as a crypto operator with the Communications watch.  Admiral Fenno was commander until Vice Adm Stuart H. Ingersoll took over in late 1955.  I was detached from the Air Task Force 13th Provisional (FEAF) and BGen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was the commander.  Once while I was hitch hiking, General Davis  graciously stopped his command vehicle and gave me a lift up to Grass Mountain on his way to his quarters. We conversed about island life and our assignments. I was highly impressed by this extremely knowledgeable leader, and would have enjoyed serving with him. As a 19 year old recruit freshly out of basic/tech school why wouldn't I have been? Little did I know of his WWII ventures.
We had a hostel on top of Grass Mountain (Yangming Shan) which belonged to President Chiang Kai-Shek and was guarded by the Chinese Army. It consisted of a dining hall, and dormitories (open bays) -- not much privacy.
Our supplies came in at Keelung harbor on the USS General Howard. Air Force uniforms were scarce, so we combined US Navy/AF on occasion. We only had a few places we could go during those days:  Club 63, MAAG, Friends of China club, USIS, US Embassy, Lin Kou Air Station, Taipei Air Station, and some limited areas were open to US personnel. I was lucky that I spoke some Mandarin and had a Chinese driver, so I was designated as a courier when messages/mail had to be taken to other units.  Beitou, Sun Moon lake, and some areas of downtown Taipei were often off limits.

We had several typhoons hit the island during my stay, and we would have to strap ourselves to trees outside to crank up generators. We were located by the river, on Chung Shan North Road, just down from the bridge leading to the Grand Hotel.
 I also lived with my girlfriend and family across from the Confucius temple located behind the Taipei zoo. We often visited the temple to observe ceremonies. Chiang Kai-Shek's son used our apartment to take a photo of the temple. He presented me with a copy which he signed.
Since my assignment on Taiwan, I went on to duty in SAC Headquarters, Nebraska; Chelveston England; Patrick AFB (Cape Canaveral) Florida; Wake Island; Anderson AFB, Guam; Scott AFB IL;  Homestead AFB, FL; Udorn Thailand (Laotian territory) and the Presidential Support Mission, Key Biscayne White House, retiring in 1974 at Homestead AFB, FL.  I thoroughly enjoyed my career in the military, having met and served with many famous people, but my duty on Formosa/Taiwan was probably the best!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Yangmingshan Housing Area Today

There has been much discussion here in the past about American military family housing areas, and last week I posted some information about the Bank of Taiwan (BOT) housing area in Yangmingshan.  As I mentioned recently, Jenny Lee and a crew of volunteers are in the process of restoring one of the old buildings there (F209, I believe) to its original design.

Following that article, LTC Scott Ellinger visited the area and took several photographs of some of the old buildings.  You can view them at this Flickr photostream.  Scott sent me this panoramic shot of quarters F202 and F203 that he took a couple of days ago.  Click on the image for more detail.
I just received an e-mail from Dawn Crumly who said that she and her folks lived in F202 during the late-1970s.  Small world, huh?

To make things even more interesting, old friend Les Duffin just sent me a list of names of personnel who resided in some of those quarters during 1977.  His comments are in parentheses.

F100    Brooksher, D. A., BGen, USTDC  (this of course was the AF one-star who was deputy commander)

F104    Carr, R. J., Capt, HSA  (He was the Navy captain who was commander of HSA)

F108    DeMartino, F, Maj, USTDC (AF Major, actually Lt Col by then, Frank DeMartino; I think he was assigned to J-1)

F304B  Groves, J. E., LTC MGCSF (Actually I knew his wife; she was my son’s teacher at Dominican School.  And I’m  not sure what MGCSF means)

F107B  Harmon, W. E. Jr, CW2 USACC

F300A  Kaiser, R. L., 1Lt, 6987ABS/DEM

F103F   Landfair, R. W., Capt, MAAG

F106    McLain, C. L., Col, USACC

F109    Norcross, J. C., Col, USTDC

F201    Phinney, J. L., Col, MAAG

F210    Trask, A. F., Capt, MGNA

F305A  Trosper, J. H., Lt, NAMRU 2

F107a  Wells, J. C., E-8, MAAG

(I’m assuming that numbers like F201 and F210 were single-family dwellings, whereas the ones followed by an “A” or “B” were duplexes.  That was true of the BOT houses in Tien Mu as well; one half was  “A” and the other “B.”)
 If anyone else has photos or memories they'd like to share about family housing in the Taipei area, please contact me:  ustdc [at]

Thursday, September 9, 2010

American Footsteps in Taiwan

The American Institute in Taiwan - Kaohsiung Branch in conjunction with the Sun Yat-sen University American Center will be continuing the "American Footsteps in Southern Taiwan" exhibition in Tainan (please see cut out and weblink to AIT-K). 

This link is to the first exhibition held in Kaohsiung --

9/29/2010 - 11/30/2010 - American Footsteps in Southern Taiwan Exhibit In cooperation with the Tainan City Government Culture and Tourism Bureau and the America Center located at National Sun Yat-sen University, AIT Kaohisung Branch Office is pleased to present "American Footsteps in Southern Taiwan" exhibit at the Koxinga Museum located in Tainan from September 29 to November 30. The exhibit features stories of U.S. interaction with southern Taiwan in a key era from 1950-80. and (AIT-Taipei and AIT-Kaohsiung webpages will update the announcement soon)

Additionally, AIT-Taipei will be holding the "American Footsteps in Taiwan" (which will encompasses all Taiwan) exhibition from 12/17/2010 to 1/24/2011 in Taipei at the National Library.  More to follow.  AIT will post the announcement on the AIT webpage.
In order to make this event the best it can, LTC Scott J. Ellinger humbly requests support from people who were once stationed in Taiwan to contribute to this exhibition.  The military portion of the exhibition will make up about half of the displays.  Please send old awards, photos, welcome booklets, anything that brings back the memories.

Please contact LTC Ellinger at

Also, please send copies or photos to me ( so that I can share them here at the blog.

Thanks much.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quarters A

We've had several discussions about Taipei area military housing during the past three years or so.  But there is one house that I don't think I've mentioned previously.  The Commander of USTDC and his family resided in what was called "Quarters A," high above the city.  Jenny Lee asked me about it a few days ago and I started looking around for its location.

Patricia Linder, wife of RADM James Linder, in her book "The Lady and the Tiger," wrote extensively about the place, including many humorous (and also some very serious) events that occurred there during their period of residence from 1977 until early 1980.

LTC Scott Ellinger was kind enough to identify the map coordinates for the former Quarters A (25.133202,121.542799), which I pasted into Google Maps for the images shown below.

This first image shows the location of Quarters A in relation to the HSA compound.  You can see the aircraft symbol at the old airport in this photo, the HSA compound was about two kilometers (by my reckoning) due west of the airport.  Well north of that location, appropriately labeled "A" in this image, is Quarters A.  As always on this blog, you can click on the images to expand them for easier viewing.

Below is a satellite photo of the building as it appears today.  When Pat saw this photo, she immediately recognized it, and said that the white area to the lower left of the house is the pool.  A long porch faces the pool and looks out over Tien Mou.  The house to the left of Quarters A was the South African Embassy with Bill and Renee Praetorious in residence at that time.  She noted that nature is very forgiving because many large trees were destroyed during the typhoon that hit as they were moving into this house.  As you can see, the area seems to have healed nicely since then.

There was also a street view available in Google Maps for this location and here's how it looks from the entrance gate:
Pat told me that the long wall with the little windows visible here is the "insanely slick hall" to the master bed/sitting rooms.  You'll have to read her book to fully appreciate that comment.

Many thanks to Jenny, Scott and Patricia for helping me document this important part of US Taiwan Defense Command history.

Monday, September 6, 2010

U.S. Military Housing Restoration

Today I received this e-mail from Jenny Lee, who resides in what was once one of the U.S. military housing areas.  She and some volunteers are presently working on the restoration of a nearby house in the same area:

I have visited your web blog many, many times.  Since May 2009, I have rented  F205 from the Taiwan bank, and started to find out a lot of things about these houses.  And then, with great courage, I decided to do this:  [Click here for the link to her Picasa album of photographs].
Up to now, most of the work is being done by volunteers.  Why does the bank not maintain them?  It's a long and complicated story.
I wonder who lived in F205, where I live now.  It was remodeled -- nice but lacking the old flavor.  The one I am fixing now is F209, very original.   the family that lived in this house before must have been very happy.  I wish that they still remember this house and come back to see it.
My father was an air traffic controller who worked for Asia Airline.  He was sent to Laos from 1961 to 1972.  I was three years old when I joined him and I lived in Laos for almost 10 years.  The Vietnam War, to me....was a close contact.  Dad's office was located in the airport and sometimes he took me to his work place when he was on  night shift.  If any of you were pilots at the time and have been to Vienjen (capital city of Laos) we might have met.
My best wishes to all of you.

Jenny Lee
 She also provided a link to a very interesting website on the same subject -- Odie's Notebook -- which is about the "Yangmingshan Shanzaihou U.S. Military Housing" area.  I filtered the site through Babel Fish and you can find a rough English translation of it HERE.

I know these photographs will be of great interest to many of the folks here at the blog.  If you have more information about any of these structures, especially units F205 and F209, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

U.S. Lady

In addition to the other materials that Colonel Baker provided, there are these pages from the January, 1962 edition of "US Lady," which I have discovered was a "...service family journal for service wives, families and women in service."

This article gives an overview of Taiwan and describes life for American military families during the early 1960s.  It's not as detailed an account as the MAAG newcomers booklet, but still a very interesting article.  I was fascinated by the ladies' bible study that was regularly held at the home of Mrs. Smoot, the wife of Vice Admiral Roland Smoot, Commander of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command during 1960-1962.  The study group consisted of both officer and enlisted wives.