Today's article is quite long; lots of interesting photos and tidbits of information.
Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, take your time as you move down the pages.
It wasn't that many years ago, when you and I spent our first Christmas in Taiwan.
US military were scattered all over the island and a few men were on islands off the coast.
Most of us were alone, away from our families.
Ninety percent of us were single, or serving an Unaccompanied Tour.
Christmas Dinner was served in the Mess Hall, Chow Hall, Dining Facility, Galley, or maybe on a kitchen table at a remote site.
Many of us had no where to eat except at one of the military clubs, or in the Hostel at one of the remote sites scattered around Taiwan and in the Taiwan Strait.
Those Christmas days are easily remembered, forever fixed in our minds.
Let's take a look back at some of the places you may have had Christmas Dinner.
By no means will we view every place, we don't have photos.
If you have a photo we don't show, please send it in.
We'll start in the Taipei area and move southward, down the island.
Please click or double click on each photo to see a larger view of the picture.
Photo courtesy S. Ellinger - 1968 Chevy Del Ray thanks to Dan at Cummings.com
MAAG NCO Open Mess Club 63 - Taipei
Christmas Dinner complimentary for club members.
Photo courtesy Bruce Rayle - circa 1958
MAAG Officer's Open Mess - Chung Shan North Road - Taipei
If you look closely, the front entrance door has the letters - USOOMT
Many officer's and civilians enjoyed Christmas dinner in this club.
If you were familiar with Taipei, you will enjoy this book
Taipei Officer's Club is part of the story.
Photo courtesy of Shulinkou Web Site
A short distance south of the USOOMT, on Minzu East Road sits
Linkou Club Annex
or the Linkou Club as most folks in Taipei called it.
In the early days, prior to late 1969, Minzu East Road, seen above, did not exist.
To enter the club, you walked down a sidewalk located just outside the HSA East Compound gate.
If you look closely, there are Christmas lights strung along the top of the white building, the Linkou Hotel.
A couple of blocks south on Chung Shan North Road, you take a right turn into an alley about half a block before the Florida Bakery, and you find:
Photo courtesy Taipei Signal Army Blog
This building, originally housed the Fleet Reserve Association, Branch 193, Taipei.
Later, the Fleet Reserve Association closed the building and moved to Tienmu.
The Navy Exchange re-opened the building as the Sea Dragon Club.
The building served as the Taiwan R&R Processing Center.
There were two entrances to the building. This entrance was the rear.
This photo was taken from the lane that ran north and south.
The camera is looking eastward. Chung Shan North Road would have been one or two buildings farther east on the other side of the building.
The entrance on the opposite side of the building opened to the downstairs area of the club, where R&R processing took place.
Upstairs, a dining room, stag bar, etc.
Uncounted thousands of troops processed through this building during the Vietnam War period.
Many GI's had the "time of their life" in Taipei while here on their R&R.
What fate awaited many of these young men on their return to RVN?
We continue south along Chung Shan North Road, crossing the Railroad tracks, Taipei Main Station just a short distance to our right.
A few blocks further south, Chung Shan North Road ends and we enter Roosevelt Road.
To the best of my knowledge, there were two roads in the Taipei area given American names by the Chiang Administration:
Roosevelt Road in honor of President Roosevelt.
MacArthur Thruway in honor of General Douglas MacArthur.
We will have a blog post on these two in 2013.
A mile or so farther south on Roosevelt Road, we go left around the traffic circle, turn right onto a small street and see the Taipei Air Station main gate a few yards ahead on our left.
Photo courtesy Rick Ferch circa 1965
Here, just a short distance inside the Air Station gate....
Club 13 Taipei Air Station NCO Open Mess.
The base Dining Hall, the "Charger Inn," opened on 1 January 1967.
Prior to it's opening, you ate at Club 13 or the Air Station Officer's Club.
Christmas Dinner at Club 13 -- "on the house" for Club 13 members.
The interior of the "Charger Inn" chow hall at Taipei Air Station.
No outside view photo available.
There was a small Officer's Club on the Air Station close to the Post Office.
(No Photo Available.)
We drive back to Highway 1 and make our way up to Shu Linkou Air Station.
Photo courtesy of Shulinkou Web Site
Shu Linkou NCO Club, Shu Linkou Air Station.
Photo courtesy of Shulinkou Web Site
Shu Linkou Air Station also had a Dining Hall.
Dragon Inn won the coveted Hennessy Trophy for "Best" Air Force Dining Facility" four times over the years.
A reader of this blog left the following remark concerning Dragon Inn:
"The dining hall at SLK was always a highlight. One year when they didn’t win the Hennessy Trophy, they were so embarrassed they remodeled the whole place (new fountain and fish pond among other things,) and added a row of Hibachi cookers out back so, when you went through the line, you were asked if you wanted your meat cooked or smoked."
Can imagine the Christmas Dinner they served, the food must have been scrumptious.....
We make our way back to Highway 1, and head south toward Hsinchu.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Rayle.
Hsinchu Officer's Club
If you look just above the beer bottles and cans on the back wall of the bar area, you'll see Hsinchu Officer's Club in wooden letters.
This was a MAAG club.
It's the Christmas season, notice the red Poinsettia flowers behind the man with the microphone.
Also located in Hsinchu was the Hsinchu Branch of MAAG NCO Open Mess "Club 63"
Unfortunately we have never seen a photo of the club, do you have one?
Here's a page from the menu of the Hsinchu Branch.
Photo courtesy Steven Michael Sitar via CCK Facebook Page
If you drove up and down Highway 1, you probably stopped at this club.
There was a sign along the highway advertising the NCO Club.
Hsinchu is approximately half way between Taipei and Taichung.
It was a great place to stop, have a sandwich and relax before heading back out to Highway 1 and on to your destination.
It was referred to and know as the "Halfway Club" to many.
Here, the interior of the Mess Hall at Hsinchu Air Base, 1958.
This building looks like one of the Japanese Era concrete hangers.
I don't believe the US constructed any buildings at Hsinchu.
There were many air squadrons on TDY status at Hsinchu during this time.
This Mess Hall would have served Christmas Dinner to these and other men.
Smoke-um if you got um....
Photo courtesy of Bruce Rayle. See Bruce's Hsinch story HERE
The altar at the newly constructed Hsinchu Cathedral, prepared for it's very first Christmas Midnight Mass.
Photo taken before Mass on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1958.
Our next stop, CCK Air Base.
Photo courtesy Randy Van Meter via CCK Facebook
CCK Base Christmas Tree 1967
To the best of my knowledge, Kung Kuan Air Base had no clubs on the base before 1966.
In 1966, the base mushroomed in size and the first on-base clubs opened.
Club 36 and the MAAG Officer's Club in Taichung served Kuan Kuan and later CCK.
Photo courtesy George McGuire via CCK Facebook Page
CCK NCO Open Mess
Nice, new, large facility.
CCK Airmen's Club
This photo lifted from the You Tube Video:
Memories of CCK Air Base Taiwan 1969 - an outstanding film, watch it HERE.If you ever visited the Airman's Club, I bet you recognize this front door.
Photo courtesy of Tom Periera via CCK Facebook
A coffee cup gift for club members.
Photo courtesy of Clarence Spohn.
CCK Officer's Club
I visited CCK a couple of years ago and took many photos of the base.
One of the buildings we stopped at, and were able to get inside of, was the old Officer's Club, seen above. The trees are taller today, bent over from the prevailing winds, but still standing for the most part.
The club is still partially furnished. The kitchen seemed intact, the old stainless steel serving line in the lunch dining room is still available for use, sparkling clean. Four person table fill the lunch line dining room area, much as it looked back-in-the-day.
It was my understanding that the building is now used Only for "Official Base Functions."
You can see Clarence Spohn's photos of CCK HERE.
You might want to join the CCK Facebook Page HERE
One of the two Chow Halls at CCK, this one located on Exchange Blvd.
HO HO HO, there's Lots More To Go...
We move on toward Taichung City...
Photo courtesy of Paul Brown via CCK Facebook Page
Taichung area MAAG Officer's Open Mess and Motel
It is my understanding that the club and motel burned down.
There was another Officer's Club in Taichung, which still stands.
The club building was remodeled and serves today as a Buddhist Center.
Photo courtesy USTDC Blog
MAAG NCO Club 36 Taichung circa 1959
The first Club 36 in Taichung. Standing outside, the Club Manager.
Notice the neon sign, the 1950's were different in Taiwan.
Card expiration date 31 December 1960.
This is a cash "chit" - a short term loan club members could get.
$2.00 would get you dinner and a few beers.
Photo courtesy C-130 Hercules.Net
MAAG NCO Club 36 Taichung circa 1966
The club moved from downtown to this building sometime between 1960-1965.
From the looks of the paint, it's been up and running a few years.
New construction going up on the left side, looks like an extension to the club building. Notice the tall rebar columns on the left side of the club building, it was a good sized addition.
The Fire Marshall had placed a restriction on the number of people that could occupy the building.
CCK was overwhelmed with new assignees. In January 1966, there were 550 personnel assigned, by the end of December 1966, the number had grown to 4,000.
99+% were single and/or unaccompanied, there were no on-base clubs, so everyone went to Taichung and most ended up at Club 36 or the Officer's Club.
You can imagine the dilemma Club 36 faced every day, it was packed.
Imagine the weekend crowds..
I remember going to Club 36 a few times in 1966 and 1967. Once we were turned away, the club was full. It was a mad house inside.
Of course there were many who visited the local bars.
The bar street was not far from Club 36, there was a steady flow of folks in and out of Club 36 all evening.
It could get testy late in the evening.. You can imagine...
Does someone know the story on this building, and what went on. Please write in.
We move south to Chiayi.
Booklet courtesy Roger Chuang of Kaohsiung
We had US Air Force military folks at Chiayi Air Base to service aircraft and crews send in on TDY rotations to support the CAF.
The name of the club in Chiayi was "Top of the Mark." It was probably in town, close to the Chiayi Hostel. We have no photos.
Our military moved out of Chiayi Air Base in 1968.
Messing facilities at Chiayi Air Base Fall of 1958.
These and other men would have probably had Christmas Dinner here in 1958.
Potable drinking water available in the Lister Bag.
Wonder what's written on white boards hanging above the Lister Bag?
The kitchen was probably inside the building to the right. There must have been dining tables inside also.
The outside tables could have something to do with the weather.
Air conditioning was not something the Taiwan military would have installed in these old Chiayi buildings in 1968.
We head out the gate and onward toward Tainan.
Who said there was never an Airmen's Open Mess at Tainan..... circa mid to late 1950s
Club management scooters, are these Vespas?
The inside was probably pretty nice.. After a few beers, everything looks good!
Does someone remember these two facilities? Please write to us.
Here, the first US Dining Hall building on Tainan Air Station, after the tents came down..
The Airmen's Open Mess photo above, is strikingly familiar to this photo.
The only argument to the two photos being the same, the trees behind this photo.
You might enjoy looking back at old photos of the early days at Tainan.
Jim Nelson contributed lots of photos from the late1950's time period.
Jim's photos can be found HERE.
Christmas dinner was served at both buildings..
These old structures probably came down in the early 1960s.
Wishing you a very, Merry Christmas...
Photo courtesy Ralph Henricks circa 1967-1969
Tainan Dining Hall
Tainan was unique, they established a compound area about 5 miles outside of the base, called Tainan Recreation Center (TRC)
Inside the TRC were the Officer's and NCO Open Messes, package store, snack bar, youth center, rod and gun club, barber shop, beauty shop, tennis and basket ball courts.
Photo courtesy Ed Wexler circa 1969-1972 - More Ed Wexler Photos HERE.
Tainan Officer's Open Mess
across the parking lot sat....
Tainan NCO Open Mess
The NCO Club, better know as the Magambo Club.
Photo courtesy Bill Gray circa 1956
Tainan MAAG NCO Club
Don't know where this building was located. Can help us with location.
It looks like a really nice place.
Photo courtesy Larry Michel circa 1968-1970, see more of Larry's Photos HERE
Hidden gem of a restaurant over at the US Navy Detachment on Tainan Air Base.
A reader left this note on the blog: "LCdr Lew Mitchell, was something of a gourmet cook and took great pride in the food served in his restaurant."
"I enjoyed many a lunch at the Fly-A-Way. Among other things, it had the best burgers in town."
Getting close to the Kaohsiung area...
Photo courtesy Larry Fields via S. Ellinger
MAAG NCO Open Mess Kaohsiung
No information available on location of this facility.
Photo courtesy Don Burkley via Tainan AB Facebook Page
This photo may have been taken earlier than the photo above.
Photo courtesy David Putnam, circa 1954 - more of David's photos HERE.
Sea Dragon Club Kaohsiung
Club entrance on first floor. Second and third floors enlisted, roof, Officer's Club.
Looks like a nice facility. The building was packed when one of our Navy ships visited Kaohsiung on Liberty.
Photo courtesy S. Ellinger
This Kaohsiung building is believed to have housed the
US MAAG Officer's Open Mess Kaohsiung
It now houses a Taiwan Military Club.
So little is know about our military in Kaohsiung.
Can you help us?
Be sure to visit our Blog on Christmas Day (US Time Zone)
We'll take a trip out to the O'Club Annex in Taipei, just before Christmas.
God Bless ....
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