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
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.