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

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happiness Comes In Small Packages

Lifeline to the world, our beloved Air Force Post Office (APO) 96280 or as most called this building, “The Post Office,” or “Mail Room.”

Many good things appeared in your mail box other than letter correspondence. We all looked for that small colored card announcing a package had arrived for us.

We took the card to the window and stood in line trying to imagine if it could be a goodies box from Mom, car parts from JC Whitney, kids clothes and those Christmas toys from Sears Roebuck, JC Penney, Montgomery Ward, or Spiegel. What surprise awaited us? You were tense and stomachs rolled in anticipation of what was inside that box that would soon be in your hands, you watched those in front of you get their boxes, listening to their small talk to see what they were anticipating, then it was your turn and here came the box, yes, it was, it was……. Cookies from Mom! Wow! Those cookies were so goooood…… You can still taste them to this day, always were your favorites.

And you remember those catalogs which arrived by boat mail a couple times each year and that special Christmas edition in the fall. Those thick books were so popular the guys in the mail room had a waiting list for unclaimed copies.

Here is a clearer view of the Post Office sign. Brings back memories, as most of us probably visited this building at least once every workday.

Milt Doyle was assigned to the Post Office during 1971-1972 time period, these are his photographs.

The Post Office had close to 700 individual mail boxes. Not all were assigned.

The APO had 3 or 4 folks assigned for duty. They sorted outgoing mail according to destinations in Taiwan, the Pacific and the CONUS. Mail was rubber banded and loaded into the gray colored thick canvas bags for transport and delivered to the Air Force Mail Center (AMC) at Sung Shan military airport twice a day. The closed van seen below was driven by one of the two Chinese drivers assigned to the APO.

At the AMC, mail was resorted into final destination bags and loaded onto aircraft destined for Travis AFB in California. The Travis AMC sorted and forwarded the mail into the US Postal System for final delivery. Travel time of your mail from Taipei to Travis was approximately 3 days.

After delivering the outgoing mail to Sung Shan, the incoming mail for APO 96280 was loaded into the closed mail van and transported back to Taipei Air Station for sorting and loading into individual boxes.

This happened in the morning and afternoon on weekdays. On Saturdays, it was done once, in the morning. On Saturday the APO closed at 1200.

Ready to load up the outgoing mail for delivery to the AMR at Sung Shan. We see the rear door of the mail room to the left.

The single airmen barracks is just to the right of this photograph.

Above, the outgoing mail run to Sung Shan completed, the van has returned with a load of incoming mail and packages. Nothing very military about the guys who worked in the mail room on Saturdays, can’t get excited about uniforms on Saturday mornings, after all, this was Taipei Air Station.

Pictured above is Milt in his plaid shorts with his back to the photographer.

Milt tells the story about the day he received the biggest shock of his military life!

Milt was a laid-back kind of guy, into the hippie movement life style when he enlisted in the Air Force.

Seems Milt loved long hair and decided to get himself a custom made human hair wig. The wig was made, it looked great, matched his natural hair, perfect. Much against what should have been his better judgment, Milt decided to shock all of his friends and wore it to work one day.

Things were going along just fine. As 1000 hours approached, Milt opened the Stamp Sales Window to begin business. As he swung the window open, who should be standing first in line but the Base Commander, a two star Air Force General. Milt froze, exchanging glances with the general as they stood in silence for a few moments. No words were exchanged regarding his deportment, the sale of mailing a package was completed and Milt continued on with his business. Within 20 minutes, a telephone call was received from his boss, a Air Force Major who maintained his office in the East Compound downtown, inside APO 96263, see photo below. The only words said in the conversation were, 'get rid of it.' Enough said…..

Milt also tells the story of a guy waking him up late one night as he was sleeping in his room in the Taipei Air Station barracks. Seems this fellow was expecting an important package from someone and asked Milt if he could open the APO and see if the package had arrived. Milt was always happy to help out and went downstairs and opened up the Post Office and found the package. The fellow was happy and told Milt to call him at his job anytime. The fellow worked at the Overseas Switch. Well, you can guess the rest of the story… Whenever this airman was working, Milt could call and he would get a call to his folks in the CONUS via military lines. Of course this went on with communications folks, but not so much with the rest of us. One good turn deserves another, what goes around comes around…. How true these sayings are!

Photo courtesy Rick Ferch Circa 1965

APO 96263, everyone probably visited this APO once in your tour. Located just inside the side gate just east (behind) the HSA Movie Theater.

The gray shuttle bus is leaving the compound. Wonder where it’s off to?

Does anyone recognize that building straight to the back of this photograph? Is it the Commissary warehouse?

The Air Force Post Offices in Taiwan were located at: HSA Compound, Taipei Air Station, Shu Linkou Air Station, Taichung MAAG, CCK Air Base, Tainan Air Base, Kaohsiung and an unnamed APO where certain personnel were posted.

I know there were, at times during our tenure in Taiwan, personnel assigned to Hsinchu MAAG and Air Base, Chiayi MAAG and Air Base, Pingtung, Keelung, and the outer islands. How mail was addressed to these folks is unknown.

Can someone fill in the blanks on these other areas?

And we finish at our Taipei Air Station Post Office with an appropriate photograph of our mailman extraordinaire, Milt Doyle, relaxing in his lounge chair outside the rear door of the mail room.

Our thanks to Milt for covering the unofficial post office motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Milt…. Many remember you, of all the folks we saw on the Air Station, just walking into your office was sure to bring joy to each of us.

Hard to find a better duty assignment than Taipei Air Station…….


Don said...

Great photos! I especially appreciate the shot of APO 263, which was over in my neighborhood. I still can't remember entering that building during my 15 month tour but I'm sure I must have on a daily basis.

Looking at the map from the phone book, ca. 1977, the post office was located just inside the gate of the east compound. But that doesn't seem to match the photo because the Navy Exchange would have been behind it. You can see that map at:

I do remember seeing individuals, mostly TDY or on leave, bringing in large items like end tables and other things that could ship through the APO. They'd be wrapped in corrugated cardboard and heavy twine.

Taipei Air Station said...

I apologize for any confusion on the location of APO 96263 facilities. The photograph of the APO was taken in the 1965 time period by Rick Ferch. It would appear that the facility was moved after 1965 to a new location, as Don has pointed out in his comment above. I have an even older photograph of the same APO building which dates into the 1950s; however, I have no photos of the facility located near the front entrance to the HSA East Compound as reflected in the map Don describes. Does anyone have a photo of the new APO facility in the East Compound that you would share? Thanks, Kent.

Anonymous said...


Thank you and special thanks to Milt for the photos - slowly but surely we are getting a photo gallery of TAS. I remember Milt's longer than regulation sideburns, but who's gonna argue with the Mail Clerk! Note the dorm right behind the Post Office. Looking forward to more photos!

Best regards

John Hurst