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

Friday, May 6, 2011

MAAG in the South – Kaohsiung and Tsoying

I’ve been writing about our times in Taiwan for more than five years. For reasons unknown, folks who served at MAAG assignments in the south of the island have had little to share of their experiences, it’s been awfully quiet. 

Today the first of two or three posts on Kaohsiung and Tsoying, two of our MAAG posts in the south.

Later, reflections from a lady who’s father was the MAAG Army Sergeant Major at Kaohsiung and thoughts from a gentleman who’s Dad was a Naval Officer at Tsoying.

I found this short, but interesting piece from a US Navy Chief working at Tsoying.

       “I was transferred to the Military Assistance and Advisory Group in the Republic of China.  I arrived at MAAG China September 1965 at Kaohsiung, Taiwan,” said YNC Eldon L. Vandervort, USN in remarks he left on a USN Patrol Squadron web page in 2003.  Eldon retired in 1978.  
     "This was an accompanied tour and really interesting.  I remember upon arrival there, before the plane could land, they had to chase the goats off the runway.”

Eldon probably landed at the old Japanese airport, now the Kaohsiung Airport, you can find it on Google Earth, at these coordinates:   22.572662  120.350643 

Back in 1965 there was little air traffic to Kaohsiung, so having goats on the airport property would have been common, helping keep the green area eaten down, not to mention BBQ Cabrito…

       “This led to many more interesting experiences.  My primary job there was to release classified material to the Taiwanese Navy to support the Navy ships that the US had given them.  We made many trips up and down the island from Taipei to the southern tip of the island.  A few side trips included visits to an orphanage in a remote area inaccessible by road.  This was an orphanage run by Philippine Nuns.

       While there, my third child, or my first daughter, was born.  My wife had to travel to Taipei a couple of weeks before her due date because there were no approved facilities in the Kaohsiung area.  I enjoyed my tour so much that I had it extended for an additional six months.”

1 comment:

Elton said...

I guess I should update some comments I made that are posted on this webpage. One change I would like to make is my first name is Elton not Eldon Vandervort.

When I arrived Taiwan I was living behind a wall in Kaohsiung. I lived there for 6 months or so before being assigned housing in Tsoying on the naval base. I believe the housing I was assigned to was owned by Mrs. Chiang kai- shek

The US Military assigned to MAAG at Tsoying was well respected by the Chinese Navy. We were treated well. We were all invited to a dinner by the Commander in Chief of the Chinese Navy. We were also given a Christmas tree by the Chinese.

On one occasion I asked a Chinese sailor if he could accompany me on a trip from Kaohsiung to Taipei so he could help me interpret Mandarin into English. The sailor told me he could so we left. When we returned I learned after he made the trip with me that he was not authorized to go. As I understand it this sailor was transferred to one of the offshore islands.

There was one occasion when we were invited by President Chiang kai shek to attend a gunnery exercise. This was quite an event. We were given "front row seats". This was an event that was scheduled as a show of force to mainland China.

While in Tsoying, my son had developed a medical problem that required he be evacuated to Taipei for medical treatment. What was interesting about this was the Chinese flew my wife and I along with our son to Taipei. The flight occurred on a vintage WW1 aircraft. We were the only passengers aboard. We flew out of Tainan Air Force Base.

The Chief Yeoman I worked for was involved in an accident that killed a Chinese that was harvesting rice that was on the road between Kaohsiung and Tsoying. During this same period another sailor was involved in a similar accident however because he was assigned to Headquarters Support Activity he was placed on trial by the Chinese. His case was treated differently than the Chief I worked for because he did not have diplomatic immunity. This created quite a stir between everyone associated with the US Military. As I recall my Chief's case was handled by the US Navy and eventually dismissed. The other sailor's case ended up finding him guilty but may have only been fined.

My oldest son attended a Catholic School just outside of Tsoying.

Another tragic incident that occurred while there was when the Chaplain's wife and daughter were struck and killed by a train.

I believe that this pretty much updates my experiences there. I did learn some survival phrases that I can still remember. Some I practice whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.

I can be reached at if anyone would like to contact me. I appreciated learning of this website.

Elton Vandervort, YNC, US Navy (Retired)