Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Earlier Days at Taipei Air Station

George McAdams was 8 years old when he arrived in Taipei in May 1958.

He recalls those early years in Taipei.

While I was only 8-10 years old, I can remember many aspects of Taipei, and one of them was Taipei Air Station.

My father, Lt. Col. C. A. McAdams, worked in the Comptroller’s Office at the Presidential Office Building (second floor, second window from the right when you looked at it from the front).

In reading your articles, I didn’t remember much about TAS, thinking first that the acronym was for Taipei American School, but when I saw the picture of the movie theater, that was something I really remember. We actually saw THE TEN COMMANDMENTS there, which because only a one reel player was used, and the film sometimes came unwound, made the 4 hour movie a 6-hour extravaganza!

During our first year in Taipei, we lived in the compound of about 7 different houses built by a Chinese Major General. Near our house Roosevelt Road broke off from another street I believe it was Wan Sheng Street.

Wan Sheng Street. went by “Army Hill,” a Chinese Army bunker in a huge hill that had a white mountain goat-type animal (with long straight black antlers) tied to a tree at the top. Occasionally, we would think about sneaking into Army Hill compound, but the electrified barb wire just above the water in the moat usually stopped us. I do think we shorted out the circuit a few times when we threw a wet log onto the fence.

About “Army Hill,” that’s was just what I thought the kids called it, but one day 30 years later, I was talking to a fellow who coordinated the satellite stations for the USA. We were at a ballgame killing time, and he noticed I didn’t have a southern accent, and I told him about living in various places, including Taipei. He said he had just been to Taipei. I told him about living near the University near a place we called “Army...” And, he finished my sentence by saying “Hill.” I asked him, “Do they still....” and before I could finish that sentence, he said, “Yes, there is still a goat on top of the hill.”

If you turned to the left just after Army Hill, you went down along a binjo ditch and came into the houses. They were grouped in twos, for the most part, with a common wall. Our house was a pretty solid house. We shared a wall with the Chinese Major General, whose family was extremely nice in that they allowed me to scale the wall between our houses almost any time of day or night.
Near our house there was a Chinese Army pom-pom gun installation. I believe it was a “105mm” twin gun.

As an 8 and 9 year-old American boy, I used to go over there, and the soldiers would let me get into the seat and operate the gun (however, they never let me slide the red switch cover over the trigger and fire it. Once I actually got to be the gunner during their monthly alert when a plane circled Army Hill. If that pilot had known I was down there, with shells loaded in the barrels, I doubt that he would have ever flown over us again. There was another pom-pom gun on a hill. This gun was in the middle of a cemetery, where I would watch as soldiers would, while family members watched, dig-up the bones of the deceased, scrub off the bones, and rebury them.

To me it seemed this gun was two miles from home, but I guess it was only 450 yards through the rice patties. My mother always seemed at ease to let me wander the neighborhood.
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When I went away from the house any distance, I took a English Springer Spaniel that a Chinese Air Force Colonel had loaned to my Dad for hunting. After we got “Chipper,” we discovered he wasn’t much of a hunting dog because he was extremely gun shy; however, he was very protective of me. If you walked-up to me or got within six feet without me saying, “It’s OK Chipper,” he would bite and keep biting the other person, as my girlfriend and our cook/houseboy could attest.

After a year, we moved to Tien-mu.
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Taipei was a wonderful. I learned how to barter at the “Black Market,” how candy, biscuits, pharmaceuticals and records were made from the factories near our first home.
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I made friends with other children such as the daughter of the head of the pharmaceutical factory (and got exposed to chewable vitamins before anyone else I knew) and male friends who lived nearby...some in concrete houses, others in “houses” with tin and straw roofs.





The McAdams home outside of Taipei Air Station in the Wen Shan District, circa 1958.


The McAdams home in Tien-mu circa 1959/1960

Another aspect of our stay was the fighting on Quemoy and Matsu. The tensions were high, and I remember seeing my dad having a Colt 45. About one-half of the servicemen with families sent their families back home.
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We toughed it out. If you look at the picture of the house at Tien-mu, you will notice that I have a rifle resting on my shoulder.... I guess I was our last level of defense for our house (G).
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Sorry to go on-and-on, but some of your readers may enjoy the remembrances of a young boy in Taipei from 1958-1960.
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George McAdams
Sheffield, AL

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi to George McAdams,

My name is Bill Gray and I was stationed at Tainan AB in 1956-57. And, believe it or not -- I was born and grew up in Sheffield, AL. I left after high school and joined the Air Force.

I am trying to find photos of the Tainan area and people in the 1956-1960 time frame. Maybe your dad had such photos in your collection.

Also, I did a memorial web site for a pilot friend killed in an F86-F crash in 1957. YOu can find it at: http://www.Bob-Ford-Memorial.com

On this web site, I share my memoirs of my time at Osan AB in Korea and at Tainan AB in Formosa.

I would love to hear from you and if you have photos of that era, I would love to see them.

My e-mail: billdory@pacbell.net

Thank you and God bless,

Bill Gray
Riverside, CA

George said...

Bill,

What a small world. I don't have any pictures to Tainan, but I do have some of the Taiwanese military officers with whom my father worked. I'll post something to you, and maybe if they're interested, some of them here.

George

George McAdams said...

Bill, I cannot believe I forgot about posting pictures. I will dig-out some pictures and post them. When we were transferred to Selfridge AFB, one of my classmate's family had been stationed in Tainan.

George McAdams
Sheffield, AL
georgemcadams@hotmail.com