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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Duane Peck's Makung Island Duty - Early 1970s

Duane Peck recently checked-in describing his assignment at the Makung Island Radar Site.

     I was assigned to the 327th Air Division in Taipei but my operating location was Makung Island.  Makung was in the straits approximately 60 miles west of Tainan. 

     Was taken to the Hotel Roma for my first night’s stay and would then in-process the next morning.  Hadn't been in the room but about 20 minutes when there was that famous knock on the door asking if "I wanted a good time".  Of course price came up and having just arrived I didn't have much cash.  Wow, this isn't Iowa is it?

     Was sent to Tainan and then a Chinese C-119 was to take me to the island.  Imagine my shock when the engine didn't start and the entire flight crew got out and worked on the engine.  Hmmm don't know if this was such a good idea, though I did make it to the island eventually.

     I was assigned as an intercept technician.  There were four of us and four officers.  The Army provided communications and there were a couple other Americans.  I think the total was approximately 10-13 Americans.  

     We were housed in a local hostel at the base of our two radar domes.  It was staffed by the Chinese who made an attempt at cooking our way.  We never failed to give the food inspectors from Tainan a heart attack when they came out and found rat turds in our rice bin and the kitchen areas.

     Some of the guys lived down town with girls from the big island.  No local girls would associate romantically/business wise with an American.  We had struck up a deal with the China Airlines office to teach some of their employees English and it was a great deal of fun.  

     One night before class I knocked on the door to the office and was met by the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.  In perfect English she addressed me.  What a treat!  After the class I asked her next door for tea.  We went next door and had the most fun conversation I had in a long time.  Her father was the station manger for the Airline and the next day I was called to the office and her father politely explained I was never to do that again.  My heart sank and apparently it showed.  He explained the big island was more liberal and to come to the big island and see his daughter on my breaks.  I did just that and we had a normal dating relationship but her friends felt it was a bad thing so we ended that experience.

     We worked a 6 on - 6 off rotation and of the 6 on days, we usually had 4-5 hour shifts.  A great amount of time was spent body surfing, swimming, running and playing the nightly volleyball game after supper.  

     On my days off I went to Tainan and spent a great amount of time in the Control Tower.  I wanted to cross train into ATC and it was the guys there who helped me make it possible.  I also enjoyed radios and became a volunteer MARS operator at the Tainan MARS station.  Many times I spent the night sleeping on the station couch.

     During my time at Makung, there were two major aircraft accidents.

     A China Airline Caravelle exploded in midair near the island and all that was found was some Coke cans and body parts. 

     During my last week on Makung,  a CCK C-130 crashed off the end of the local runway killing all on board. 

     It was a sad way to leave what had been a great year.

Date of Accident:  21 November 1971
Airline:  China Airlines   
Aircraft:  Sud Aviation SE210 Caravelle   
Location:  Penghu, Taiwan
Fatalities:  25
MSN:  122
Accident Description: The aircraft crashed into the sea after the in-flight detonation of a bomb. 

Date of Accident:   June 5, 1972 

C-130E 62-1805, c/n 3759, of the 37th Tactical Airlift Squadron, loaned to the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing – crashed in sea near Makung, Pescadores Islands, after suffering landing gear explosion while in traffic pattern. Pilot retracted landing gear while brake assembly was overheated. Denied sufficient cooling air after retraction into well, the port aft wheel assembly exploded damaging wheel well bulkhead, rupturing several hydraulic lines, the fluid from which was then ignited by the hot components resulting in loss of control of the aircraft.


'Round the Chuckbox said...

I was a cook on the USS Cocopa (ATF-101) in 1972. The Cocopa departed Kaohsiung on Monday, June 5, and arrived off P'eng-Hu Island the same day to participate in the recovery of the C-130E and crew.

According to June 10, 11 and 18 Pacific Stars and Strips articles, the location of the aircraft was found on Thursday, June 8, when a Taiwanese fishing boat snagged its net on the wreckage. Maj. Gen. Harold H. Ross, commander of the 327th Air Division, was on board Cocopa at the time pieces of the aircraft wreckage was discovered by divers from the Cocopa.

The body of Capt. Roger H. Olsen was recovered by a Taiwanese fish boat on June 5. The Cocopa recovered the body of Sgt. Walter W. Warner on June 8. The body of a fourth unnamed crewman was later recovered. I do not know when (or if) the bodies of the remaining three crewmen were recovered. They were Maj. Maj. Delbert D. Lockwood, Capt. Donald C. Zartner, Lt. John R. Boehringer and Staff Sgt. Raymond Lewis.

The Cocopa departed the search area on Thursday, June 15, and returned to Kaohsiung . The Air Force called off search efforts on Sunday, June 18, after all major parts of the aircraft were found and recovered.

Unknown said...

I was stationed on Magong Island from July 1972 until Oct 1973 at the USAF radar site. Call sign Sad Poker. Looking for others that may have been stationed there at that time. Also looking to contact some of the locals that worked at the American Hostel. Ci Ci and Uba, any help would be apprciated.

george rose said...

My name is George Rose and i was stationed at Makung from 1973 to 74. I remember Ci Ci, You must have left just before I arrived. I was a SSGT. Rainbow was a good friend of mine. MY e mail is I would also like to hear about ci ci and Rainbow. By the way I still have my plack. I was a radar operator. Left there and Went to Eglin afb, To site c-6 space track there.

Unknown said...

Ne haboo how, George
I have tried getting in touch with anybody from there for 40 years and you are the first one I have made contact with. I'm sure Ci Ci is running the island by now, with and his sidekick Uba. Cookie was in the kitchen and Tiny was our driver. I take that back, I am still friends with Ovi Sokal who was stationed there also, the same time I was. The radar site is not on google earth which is understandable. That place has really grown since then. Capt Neely was in charge about the time I left. I also still have my plaque. Do you remember what the Chinese writing translates to? Let me know,
Thanks for the email,
Geege Ferretjans
I still have some orders that have all the names of those stationed there at the time. I will try and dig them up.

The c-119 thing said...

I have many memories of the C-119 aircraft flying from Taipei to Makung. First you are the only American on the plane, all chinese civilians sometime with animals. The Pottie consist of a five gallon bucket. At the runway , the flight engineer jumps out to make sure the tail is still hanging on. I was on one, this Capt. Markinson , a USAF pilot normally, pointed out to me that there was only four parashoots ' for the crew. The c-119 pilot gives a standup speech, and gets a round of applause. Which turns out to be the weather. its an awakening

george rose said...

Forgot my George Rose on last post

Unknown said...

I see Duane Peck is from Seminole, Fl...ME TOO!!!

Ron Y said...

I Was TDY at Makung From 1838 EIS Clark Philippines 1973. I remeber the hostile and the cook. Food was ok. dont remeber names of the guys there. Certainly was impressed with the security as we headed a bit underground to install equipment if i remember correctly. We stayed in a hotel downtown and listened to the blind guy playing his flute to get in where it was warm for the night. Looking at google earth, things have changed bunch but cant see the site which might be hidden.