Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Taiwan Awards Summary

Last month I posted a request for information on a ribbon that was presented to COL William Kinkead, who was a logistics officer in MAAG Taiwan during the late fifties or early sixties.  Someone identified it as the "Kinmen Defense Ribbon."

However, I recently received a note from Lloyd Evans, who heads the 823 Badge of Honor Association USA, and he provided an excellent overview of the medals and other honors that the Taiwan government has presented to certain American military personnel over the years.

Before 1979 silver plaques and plates with acknowledgements of meritorious service and the then the OISCM (Outer Island Service Commemorative Medal – for service on Taiwan’s outer islands: Matsu, Kinmen [aka Quemoy], Taiping Island and  Pratas Islands) as well as the Honor Medal for 823 Bombardment (8/23/59 – 1/1/59 – aka Second Taiwan Strait Crisis – medal awarded in a joint US/ROC ceremony on 10/10, the 40th anniversary of 823 [1998])) and the US-ROC Mutual Defense Commemorative Badge 1955-1979 awarded subsequent to the 823 award (1998) and on or about 2000 to US servicemen. Then in 2009, the Ministry of National Defense presented roughly 600 medals to members of the United States Armed Forces Dec.14, in recognition of the help and support given to Taiwan in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot. The 600 medals, which carried the words “In commemoration of the Typhoon Morakot rescue operations,” were handed out to all those who participated in the search and rescue operations. Close to 500 navy personnel were on board the USS Denver, an amphibious transport dock stationed off the coast of Taiwan during the humanitarian mission, said Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who also attended the ceremony. Other medal recipients included members of the U.S. Pacific Command and the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Military personnel stationed in Japan, representatives of AIT, as well as members of the U.S. Defense Department were also given medals, Lin added.

Lloyd Evans
823 Badge of Honor Assoc. USA

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Is This Ribbon?

I received a note from Albert Kinkead, who wrote the following:
My grandfather COL(Ret.) William Kinkead served as a Logistics Officer trainer in the MAAG back in the late 50's early 60's time frame.  I believe he was given an award by the Taiwanese defense forces but I can't locate any info online.  He passed away in 2002 so I cannot ask him about it and I am trying to do as much research as I can.  I have a picture of him getting the award and a picture of what I believe is the ribbon they gave him.  Do you know if the defense forces gave awards to the US Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who worked in the MAAG?  If so, do you think you may know what it is or where I could find info on it?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I replied to Al that it was not uncommon for American military personnel to receive medals, especially upon completion of their tours.  I'm not familiar with this ribbon or the devices on it, but I thought perhaps someone here might be able to help.  Please let me know if you can identify the ribbon or if you know any of the individuals shown below.

Here are the rest of the photos that Al sent to me:

Receiving the award from MG Wong

Toasting the award
MAJ Harrington, LTC Kinkead, GEN Peng (Chief Taiwanese Armed Forces), COL Walker, CPT Ault

The Team, HM2 Woods, SP4 Milligan, CAPT Ault, PVT Carleton, MAJ Sotter, SP4 Barnett, COL Walker, SP4 Fisker, LTC Kinkead, SP4 Leach, MSGT Sullivan, SP4 Bailey, SSGT Hall

Friday, September 21, 2012

Great Collection of Taiwan Photos

Tom Jones was in Taipei with the Army during 1957-58, where he worked at the transmitter site.  He also spent a few months on Matsu during that period.  He recently posted a link over at my USTDC Facebook page to his collection of 260 photographs that he took all over Taiwan.  Here's the direct link to his Picasaweb album.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

EM Club Kaohsiung Memento

I recently received a note from Joseph "PAT" Halton, the son of Navy SH1 J.J. Halton, who was the Club Manager of the EM Club in Kaohsiung from 1962 until 1967.  Pat included a photo of the pennant that was presented to his father upon his departure from Taiwan. 

Pat wrote:  "I recently found one of my father's service mementos. It's a hand made pennant of "Deputy Dog" with a note thanking him for his service as Manager of EM Club Kaohsiung.  My oldest brother had it for years, unfortunately he passed away in '09; so after quite some time in "mothballs" this memento of our Dad's service is seeing the light of day for the first time in ages.  I just had to try and see if I could find out anything about it, or more importantly my father, or even the person who made it or the people he served with.

We lost my Dad back in 1972, and I remember seeing this pennant and how cool I thought it was. I will soon be mailing this to my youngest brother and am sending the information I found on Kaohsiung along with it. Maybe you or someone my Dad served with can add more:  'James Joseph Halton retired in the mid-60's after 24 years of service in the Navy. He was a Boatswain's Mate originally, but retired as a Ship's Serviceman First Class (SH1). He was originally from Colfax CA and retired in Carson City, NV. He served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.'

I am a 29-year Navy veteran and really appreciate you guys keeping our history going, so others may know. Thank you for your service and God Bless!!

Joseph "PAT" Halton
CMDCM(SW), USN (Retired)"

I wrote a short article back in 2009 about the EM Club in Kaohsiung which you can find at THIS LINK.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Looking for assistance

I received a note today from Orren Hoopman and he agreed to let me post it here.  If anyone can answer any of his questions, please either comment below or drop me an email and I'll put him in touch with you.
I live in Hualien Taiwan, and have worked for ROCAF at the 401st air base here. I'm the guy who helped Michael Hurst locate his final POW Camp at Karenko, which is currently on the site of a ROC Military Police training base.
Am wondering if anyone you know can recognize someone stationed in Taiwan in the EARLY 50s, upon the formation of the USTDC. I know an aging gentleman who served in USAF named Lloyd Ramsey (lives in WA State) who claims to have been here in Taiwan circa 1954.He was the best man at my father's wedding in 1956, and is the husband of my mother's oldest and dearest friend. I cannot get any info from him, as he is sworn to secrecy concerning what he was doing in Taiwan in the 50s, and says he will carry what he knows to his grave.
My father, Delbert Hoopman, was USAF stationed in Guam during the same period.I know he was a communications Tech Sergeant on SAC B-36s using the old "Q-code" to transmit, but perhaps he was on B-29s or B-50s before that. He also spent time in Alaska.  Sadly, he died in an airshow plane crash of a home-built Pietenpol (Google the name) back in 1983, prior to my having any interest in Taiwan.
Might anyone recognize these names?
Also, does anyone have more info on US Military activities on Taiwan PRIOR to the signing of the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty in 1955? As a research exercise, I am curious as to whether or not a "prinicipal-agent occupying force" relationship between the USA and ROC, as initiated under General Order #1, was ever FORMALLY declared.
Best regards,
Orrin "Colonel FOG" Hoopman

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gypsy Rose Lee Visits US Naval Hospital Taipei - 1969

I received this Stars and Stripes article today from Dr. George Monroe, who worked at the US Naval Hospital in Taipei.  For the youngsters here who have no idea who the great Gypsy Rose Lee was, you can find her biography HERE.

Here are Dr. Monroe's comments, followed by the text of the article:

Don:  I really enjoy & appreciate your USTDC Blog Spot! I was a Pediatrician assigned to the U.S. Navy Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan from 1968-1970.  As you have said, & I thoroughly agree, "The Best Kept Secret in the Air Force".....AND THE NAVY!!!

This may be a "repeat" for your files, but I have attached, below, a copy of the article, in the Stars and Stripes regarding a visit, to the U.S. Navy Hospital, Taipei, by Gypsy Rose Lee, on February 14, 1969.  I was on duty on the Pediatric Ward when Gypsy visited. 

Gypsy Rose Lee: Taipei US Navy Hospital: February 14, 1969

US Naval Hospital, Taipei: From the Stars & Stripes Military Newspaper Archives: Gypsy Rose Lee a balm for patients at U.S. Naval Hospital on Taiwan  By Andrew Headland Jr., S&S Taiwan bureau chief Pacific edition, Friday, February 14, 1969

 TAIPEI (S&S)--A certain healing process is going on among convalescents at the U. S. Naval Hospital in Taipei which is largely due to a salutary visit made by Gypsy Rose Lee!

Wearing a chic afternoon frock the dazzling 55-year old grandmother, author, dancer, actress and singer swept into the hospital wards Sunday with a bagful of Chinese fortune cookies, handshakes and witticisms.

"Glad to see you are still here. I saw you in Japan, recently," Navy Capt. Charles F. Climie, M.D., Naval Hospital Commanding Officer, greeted his distinguished visitor.

"Oh, yes," replied Gypsy quickly. "I went back home to have my hair bleached and just returned."

Gypsy's stop in Taiwan is being made as part of a USO-sponsored tour of Pacific areas. She previously toured Vietnam, flew in from Thailand late Saturday and was to remain in Taiwan to visit Ching Chuan Kang Air Base (CCK) and other areas before leaving for the United States Tuesday. The star arrived at the Navy Hospital with a suitcase she termed a "dog-carrier" which was plastered with hotel labels from around the world and unmistakably marked "Gypsy Rose Lee Co."Inside was what appeared to be an assortment of odds and ends including Chinese fortune cookies and knitted foot warmers for patients suffering from broken legs."One of the first things you learn in show business — before you start learning the piano — is how to pack," said Gypsy as she searched the depths of the case to eventually come up with a packet of photos which she later autographed and passed out to patients and hospital staff members." Incidentally, this is supposed to be Confucius, but as long as I made the cookies, why should he get the credit?" she quipped as she glided from bed to bed passing out the fortune cookies and occasionally posing on a bed for a picture with a beaming patient.

Her informal, patient-to-patient visits ran something like this: "Now, let's see, what does your fortune read? Oh, I just love this one. It says, "Show me a man with both feet on the ground and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off." There, that's special for you. I hope you'll have it tattooed on your chest!

After seeing a Polaroid picture of herself and Radioman 2.C. Donnel Shanbeck, a crew member of the Destroyer Escort Davidson, the actress exclaimed, "Oh, this is marvelous, look how handsome we are!"

At another point she remarked, "My, I show an awful lot of leg in that picture, don't I? If they make dresses much shorter we'll be wearing belts next season."

Flipping over a page of Playboy Magazine, she noticed on a table, she told the patients of one ward, "Well, darlings, I would say you were not terribly sick."

Producing a knitted foot warmer, she said, "It may look as though I was expecting an awful lot of broken legs, but I brought 500 of these toe warmers with me on this trip. They are for patients in leg casts. Do you have any patients in casts?"

Only one patient answered the description — little James Heinlein, 6, son of Lt. Col. W. H. Heinlein of Hq. Military Assistance Advisory Group.The actress was a bit upstaged by Jimmy, who explained that he broke his leg falling off a cart.When informed by a nurse that a famous movie star was coming to see him, Jimmy asked, "Who?". "Gypsy Rose Lee."  "I'd rather see the Gimo," Jimmy replied.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

View from Quarters "A"

I've written at least a couple of articles about Quarters "A" where the Navy admirals resided during their assignments as Commander of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command.  Pat Linder, the widow of Rear Admiral James Linder, the last USTDC Commander, wrote extensively about her experiences in the home in her excellent book "The Lady and the Tiger."

Taipei Scott, along with Larry Fields, who manages the USACC-Taiwan group on Facebook, recently visited the former Quarters "A" and Scott took this panoramic photo from the balcony of the building.  As I recall, the home overlooked the Shih Lin area.  You can click on the image to see a larger version.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Recalling the Early Days

I received a nice note from retired Navy CPO Joe Faszcza who was one of the early pioneers at USTDC, arriving in 1956. He was kind enough to provide a summary of his experiences from those times and here's what he had to say:

It was early December 1956 when I completed getting my shots at the Naval Station, Treasure Island (San Francisco) and was ready to begin the long journey to Formosa.

There were only "prop" planes in those days, so our first first stop was at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, for a couple of days and then it was on to Guam. The NCO club only opened for an hour each day from 1200 until 1300 where one could get a beer. Another couple of days and it was then on to Clark AFB in the Philippines. The only flights out of Clark to Taipei were on Tuesday and Thursday, so if you arrived on a Friday you were SOL until Tuesday. The seats on the flight were bucket seats and the lunches were always a sandwich and an apple.

What a shock to arrive at what the Taipei airport in those days. It looked like a lean-to shed to me. There was a Chinese military driver there to meet me. There were no paved roads; only dirt roads with big pot holes. Most of the traffic seemed to be ox carts where the driver scooped up the ox's s**t and shoveled it into the back of his cart.

A bus took me from the United States Taiwan Defense Command building up to Grass Mountain (Yangmingshan) where I was berthed. There were two hostels, a recreation building and a chow hall (closed mess). When you lost all your money playing the slots at Club 63, the closed mess would let you run a tab. The tea was free but peanut butter and banana sandwiches were $ .05. The phone number was sue-sue-limba 4412 I think! The hostels had double bunk beds and a community restroom and showers. Kerosense lamps provided the heat. Whenever the shuttle bus engine conked out, the driver would beat the engine with a hammer - but it worked!

TDC was located at the far end of Taipei off a road adjacent to a river (Tamsui?). There was a zoo nearby which housed chickens, roosters, and other "wild" animals. Also nearby was the Grand Hotel and the Club 63 was down the road.

I was a 20 year old E-3 assigned to J-1 (Personnel) with a Navy Commander as the Division Officer and a Navy Warrant as the Administrative Officer. Our big job was to publish the Plan of the Day.  We only had one stencil machine in the building and it was located in J-2 (Intelligence). The Legal Office was also located on the first floor. The Admiral, his Chief of Staff, and Comms were all located topside.

We worked and stood personal inspections wearing dungarees and a tee shirt. The motor pool, and sick bay (where you got those yellow pills for your burning sensations) were located behind the building. The Photo Lab was a Quonset hut. We used a barrel-like object made of what appeared to be chain link fencing for burning our classified documents.  We took turns turning the handle of the barrel to ensure nothing remained. The mail came in via ship at Keelung twice a week.

Many bars intersected the main drag (Chung Shin Pay Lou). I hung out at The Black Cat bar where mixed drinks, e.g. VO or CC, were about a quarter and a glass of ice was a nickel. The girls in the clubs earned their living by getting the customers to buy them drinks. If a girl left with you, it would cost you about $7.00. There was also a bar called "Dick's" and they had the best Mongolian barbeque one would taste.

There was a town nearby, called Paytoe, that had many hotels. They also had sulphur springs where one could take a hot sulphur bath and feel like Superman. Our valuables were very rarely looted.

We rode in the Admiral's plane for R&R flights to Hong Kong.  We could wear civies in Hong Kong but the fleet guys still  had to wear their uniforms. We were also able to ferry over to Kowloon. I bought a cashmere white dinner jacket for $25.00 and tailor made monogrammed silk shirts for $2.00 apiece. Dick, one of our shipmates, got caught by customs bringing in a suitcase full of glass frames. He got a special courts martial and restriction to the hostel for three months. His girlfriend used to come up to the hostel to visit him while he was on restriction.

Ed, another shipmate, got drunk and killed a local while driving back up the mountain. The locals rioted and we called it "Black Friday." They bussed us down to the compound and issued us weapons but nothing further happened.  Ed was transferred to a psychiatric hospital in Japan.

At 20 years of age, I spent most of my time drinking and partying until I ended up with a collapsed lung and was hospitalized at the MAAG clinic.  While there I met an Army guy from Chicago.  Both he and I spoke Polish and we used to break up our nurses by speaking to each other in Polish. On my last day at the clinic, one of the nurses admitted that she also spoke Polish and knew everything we were saying. One good thing did happen to me during that week in the clinic. I studied for advancement and shortly thereafter got promoted to E-4.

I left TDC in July 1959 and still communicate with two shipmates.  It's been over 56 years!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last Days of Club 63

Over at the Taipei Air Station blog, Kent just posted a copy of the last issue of MAAG-Net, the monthly newsletter of the Club 63.  During 1973, the management of the Club 63 was changed from the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) to the Navy's Headquarters Support Activity (HSA).  At that time the name was changed to the China Seas Club.

I was there when the change occurred and it seems to me that things actually improved.  Slot machines were brought back into the club, which I think increased club attendance.  The Navy also prohibited playing craps, blackjack and other games of chance in the stag bar, which was quite a change.  That didn't seem to affect the quarter bets at the shuffleboard table, but that was nothing compared to some of the other games that occurred regularly at the stag bar.

If you would like to have a PDF file of the final issue of MAAG-Net, you can download a copy here:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vice Admiral Beshany Plaques

Taipei Scott recently came into possession of a couple of mementos that belonged to Vice Admiral Philip A. Beshany.  VADM Beshany was Commander of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command from September 1972 to August 1974.   The first is a plaque from GEN Ching Wei-yuan, Commander of Combined Service Forces, to VADM Beshany and the other is from the Philippines Navy Commodore Ruiz to VADM Beshany.

VADM Beshany passed away in December 2011, as I wrote in this article this past February.  He was the eighth Commander of USTDC and I served under him there for all but the last few days of my tour.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rear Admiral Frank W. Fenno Jr.

I recently received a nice note from Bill Masters, along with a couple of photographs.  He wrote:

I've been looking through your website and came across a list of Chiefs of Staff for USTDC.  I was there as a photographer from 1955 to 1956 and remember that Rear Admiral Frank. W. Fenno Jr. was the Chief of Staff under Vice Admiral Stewart H. Ingersoll, the first Commander of USTDC.  Since Rear Admiral Fenno is not listed, his picture is attached along with a photo of him shipping over (re-enlisting) four of the photo lab staff in August 1956.  Admiral Fenno also played on the TDC softball team.

Until now, I'd shown Air Force Brigadier General Harold Winfield Grant as the first USTDC Chief of Staff, but Bill tells me that he never saw him or heard of him at TDC.  I know that RADM Fenno was named as Commander of the Formosa Liaison Center, which became the Formosa Defense Command until the establishment of the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command.  Vice Admiral Ingersoll was the first Commander of USTDC and apparently RADM Fenno remained as Chief of Staff.  Every TDC Chief of Staff after that was an Air Force officer, most of them Brigadier Generals.  I have changed my listing of USTDC Chiefs of Staff to include RADM Fenno.

Many thanks to Bill Masters for helping me sort all this out. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

1961 MAAG Telephone Directory

Beni recently sent me a copy of the October 1961 edition of the US Forces Republic of China telephone directory.  It contains listings for U.S. military and civilian organizations in Taiwan, including the Military Assistance Advisory Group, US Taiwan Defense Command, Naval Support Activity, embassies and units at locations outside the Taipei area.

If you would like to download the complete directory as a PDF file, click on the image to your left.

Friday, May 4, 2012

No Ifs, Ands or Butts

Some time ago I wrote about the ashtray that was one of the going away mementos that Vic Gerlach received in 1975.  Ashtrays were common departure gifts years ago when a much higher percentage of military people (and civilians) still smoked, though I don't think that I personally ever received one.

Scott in Taipei recently came into possession of another version of the TDC ashtray.  It looks like it was very well used but there's nothing to indicate when it was presented.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rules of the Road

Driving in Taiwan was different in many ways from what we were accustomed to in the States.  There were differences with the local laws, of course, but there were also some differences in traditional customs and courtesies on the streets and roads.

To make the transition to a new driving environment a bit easier, the U.S. Taiwan Defense Command and the Military Assistance Advisory Group co-published a guide to driving in Taiwan.  Scott in Taipei recently came into possession of the 1958 version of the guide and has been kind enough to share it with us.  I was especially fascinated by the rates for pedicabs (which were no longer in use when I arrived in Taipei) and the taxi rates.  I believe that the $NT to $US conversion rate was probably the same 40-to-1 ratio in 1958 as when I was there during 1973-74.  I didn't own a car while in Taipei so I often took taxis to wherever I needed to go.

As always, you can click on any of these images to view a larger version.  I'll be converting this document to a single PDF file for downloading in case anyone is interested in having a copy.  When it's ready, it will be posted in the column to your right, in the same area as other PDF files that I've previously made available.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Taipei Transports of the 1960s

Here's another group of photographs from Bill Amborn.  He wrote:

"Here is a small photo collection of ways in which goods and people were moved around in 1963-1965. I was intrigued by how things moved and stationed myself in a spot to photographed whatever came by. The photos were all taken in the same area, probably along Zhongshan Bei Lu. This is more part of the general history of Taiwan than anything to do with the military, a different slice than one might usually encounter.
I don’t know how much had changed in the ten years between my tour and yours, but now when I cruise around the roads on Google today, it is just incredible."
I believe I saw most of these methods of transport still being used during 1973-74, though probably far fewer of them than were around ten years earlier.  The exception would be the pedicabs.  I think they had been banned from the streets of Taipei by then.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Updated Photo of USTDC Gate

During 2010 I published two photos of the USTDC entrance gate (some called it the back gate).  It was located approximately where the taxi rest area next to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum is located today.  One photo showed the entry gate as it looked when I was there during 1973-74 and the other showed it as it appeared in 1957.  The earlier photo was taken by Charlie Hoppe who was an intelligence officer there during 1955-57.  That earlier post can be found HERE.

Charlie recently loaned a box of his original slides to my buddy Kent Mathieu (Taipei Air Station blog), who has been restoring the images.  He realized that one of them was the same one that I posted in 2010 of the TDC gate.  Kent has done a beautiful job on this.  Here, after more than 50 years in storage, is the restored image as it appeared in 1957.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More Typhoon Gloria Photos from 1963

A couple of years ago, Bill Amborn (formerly at USTDC/J24) sent me some photos that he took of Typhoon Gloria flooding in 1963.  Today he sent me a few more great Typhoon Gloria photos that he recently had developed from some old negatives.  He has annotated each of them for your information.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

GRC-US Authorities on Taiwan - 1974

I recently received a very helpful document from old friend Les Duffin.  Here's what he had to say about it:

"Among the phone books gathering dust in a box in my basement was this interesting document I'd long since forgotten.  It's basically a protocol list produced by TDC showing key U.S. and Chinese officials as of October 1974.  The U.S. authorities beginning on page 11 include sections for the embassy, TDC, MAAG, 327th Air Division and other units."

I really appreciate Les taking the time to scan and forward this document.  There are a lot of names I recognize but a few unfamiliar ones who apparently arrived after I left in August of 1974.

Click on THIS LINK to download the GRC-US Authorities on Taiwan document.