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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Typhoon Damage at Tainan Air Base

I recently received a note from Vicky and Tom Lilies who were stationed at Tainan Air Base, 1967-1969.

Vicky writes:

"I just saw the Tainan pictures posted by Ralph Hendricks. We were stationed in Tainan at the same time and knew Ralph and his wife. I believe she headed up the library on base."

"We arrived there as 1st LT and left as Capt. My husband, Tom Liles was with Base Civil Engineering. We loved living in Tainan and that assignment actually changed my life. I fell in love with Asia."

"Ralph mentioned the typhoon that came through the mid-section of Taiwan.  It started on the eastern side, swept across the middle, and ended up in the China Sea."

"I guess I remember it a bit differently than Ralph did.  There were lots of uprooted trees on base and concrete block fences blown down, but some of the real damage was out on the beach."

"If you looked out at the China Strait, even several days after the typhoon, the water was all gray/brown and looked like it had a mix master going on under the water. While all of the Americans were fine, numerous Taiwanese drowned."

Air America compound in background.

Inside the building, it looks like an employee is beginning to put things back together.

Always time for a cold beer at Tainan.  A few empties already along the wall?


"There were large coolers of beer and soft drinks that were turned over and swept down the beach by the churning waves. There were also concrete WWII bunkers that were tipped on their sides and moved down the beach."

"We actually had a stream of water running down the middle of our house. The water had blown in under the front door. It was pretty scary for people from Texas."

"I have a couple of stories from that period of our lives:"

"The Officer's Club, or the powers that be, convinced Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash to come down island from their performance in Taipei and put on a show for both our Officer's Club and NCO Club."

"They politely agreed and both clubs were treated to an evening with Johnny and June.....for free."

"I needed a large palm tree for our living room. I knew where a nursery was in town, so I got in a taxi and headed that way."

"When I got there, I discovered that I didn't have any money, just a nickel and an unopened roll of Life Savers. My taxi driver and I came to an agreement to make a fair/fare exchange."

"My nickel and Life Savers in lieu of my taxi fare. By that time we were both laughing and both of us were happy."



"I, and many of the other officer's wives got their hair done at a beauty parlor on Da Tung Lu."

"Late afternoon one day, I had just come out of the beauty parlor into the rush hour traffic. I needed a taxi going the other direction. Wasn't going to happen."

"My grocery boy, man really, came by on his motorcycle, made a U turn and came back to ask me if he could be of help. Well, I knew, at the rate I was going,  that I would never get home, so I hopped on the back of his motorcycle, side-saddle of course,  and he made another harrowing U turn and he delivered me to my and sound."

"I knew if we were in a wreck, I would be dead in more ways than one! I am sure the military would have frowned on my riding on the back of a Taiwanese motorcycle."

"In March of this year, (2014) we returned to Taiwan and Tainan as civilians."

"It was amazing how much the island had changed in 45 years. 

"We got lucky; our house was still standing.  We visited with the current tenant and took many pictures. The neighbors were quite warm and friendly and frankly we were a big hit in the neighborhood. It was great fun."

Thank you,  Vicky and Tom for sharing their photos and stories.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Birthday - July 4th

Bringing back our July 4th post from 2011.

 July 4th is a day for all Americans to celebrate our nation's birthday.

The Birthday of the United States of America — Independence Day — is celebrated on
July 4th, the day the wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress.

 The signing of the Declaration of Independence, is depicted on our $2.00 currency. 
How long since you've had a $2.00 bill in your wallet?
I have no July 4th celebration photos from Taiwan back-in-the-day, although, I am sure there were celebrations going on at all US clubs, the beach and at many homes.

Today's Ex-Pat celebrations in Taiwan are probably small, some of the "pubs" as they are now called, will probably have something special in observance of the 4th of July.

Let's look back at some of the 4th of July celebrations.

Lots of folks turned out in their old uniforms to lead this parade with the colors!  


Of course, the children want to take part in the celebration.

An impromptu orchestra comprised of youngsters to oldsters....

Our glorious United States Flag, and folks enjoying the parade.

Even a river parade celebrating the 4th of July! 
The water sure looks cool....

Here's the 2010,  4th of July Parade from Ennis, Montana.

This down home parade is the kind I love..

Saddle up my friend, and click the video..

Enjoy the summer!

UPDATED:  2 July 2014

Who is this fellow Johnny France, the parade Grand Marshall?
He's quite a man.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Assignment Taipei Air Station 1959

Richard Thompson, a young Airman, arrived at Taipei Air Station in 1959, on his first overseas assignment.

Richard worked in the 13th Air Force (P) Intelligence office, located in the Headquarters building, just inside the front gate, at Taipei Air Station.

Don't forget - Click or double click on any photo for a very large view!

 Richard Thompson, standing at attention for a formal photograph.

 Notice Richard's old style name tag and the "50 Mission crush" on his flying saucer hat - SHARP!

Photo circa 1958, courtesy of Rory O'Neil

Richard and most of the lower ranking Airmen assigned at Taipei AS were housed in the old Hostels which sat just across the street from the Taipei Air Station front and back gates. The Hostels were located inside red circle, in the photo above.

In this photo, Taipei AS, sits just above red circle, as it appeared in 1968. Notice the swimming pool white sidewalk outlined in the photo.

Richard standing beside a ?, anyone recognize the make?

A2C Richard Fewell, standing beside the same car.

A2C Aubyn Jones, standing at attention for this photo, outside the Hostel.


A2C Alan Easton, standing outside the Hostel.   Alan perhaps having this photo taken wearing a new custom tailored suit, from the tailor shop just outside the compound gate.

Anyone remember what an Italian silk and wool, tailored suit, went for in 1959? 

I had my first suit made in 1965,  by the tailor that operated a small shop along the stone wall, just outside the front gate of Taipei AS. It cost me $25.00, and I wore it many times for the next 3 years. 

Richard and the bus hostess, along the street outside of Taipei Air Station.

There was a bus that would shuttle Taipei Air Station folks to and from the HSA compounds.  Because it was a commercial bus, I wonder who provided the service?  Richard indicated there was no charge to ride the bus.

Two shuttle Bus Hostess'.

Do you recognize the stone wall of Taipei AS seen here?  
I believe the "exit" gate was behind the trees in the background.

Two of the ladies who worked at Club 13.

There's that green car again.  I'm guessing at Chevrolet.

Entertainment was different 55 years ago.  

Many of us spent some of our free time reading books and magazines from the library.  Here, the check-in book lady with a friendly smile and some encouraging words to all who entered the Taipei Air Station Library.

 Everyone assigned to Taipei Air Station remembers the barber shop.

Richard confirmed the shop occupied the same building in 1959 as it did in the mid 1960's.  

The shop offered a peaceful spot to relax while having a haircut, shampoo, massage and manicure. Many customers dozed off while in the chair. 

 You could also have you shoes shinned.  Some of us who lived on the economy had to shine our own shoes, or have it done at the barber shop.  I recall, you could take your extra shoes to work and there was a man who would pick up your extra pair and return them shinned the same day. 

Richard said, "Some of the men assigned to Taipei AS would have the barber shop shave them every morning before they reported for work.  Word got back to the "brass" that this was happening and it ended shortly thereafter." 

If you look at the top of this blog, you'll see the phrase, "The "Best Kept Secret" in the Air Force."  

What a life we led in Taipei...

An "Office Party" at the Intelligence Office.

MSgt Kovacs above, looks to have the makings of a sandwich in his hand.

A2C Leslie Jones, back to camera, probably mixing a drink.  Looks like a bottle of Canadian Club on his right.

Lots of refreshments available. Not sure if it was a "mix your own" or possibly Club 13 catered the food and beverages?

Richard and Ann (Girlfriend) standing outside.

 Another photo of Ann, standing with her sister Diane.

The windows on this building are unusual.  It reminds me of a chapel.
Anyone recognize it?

The US Air Force Thunderbirds perform in Taipei, 1959.

Richard had a great seat for the performance at Sungshan Air Base.

19 November 1959. The USAF Thunderbirds performed before high ranking officials of the Republic of China at Taipei, Taiwan.  The Nationalist Government recessed its Legislature early so members and their staff could watch the performance.  General Chen Chia-shang, Commander in Chief ROC Air Force presented each pilot with the wings of a ROC Air Force Pilot.

This time-line note appeared in the History of the US Air Force in Taiwan.  You might find these articles interesting.  Here is the 1959 time-line post. 

A bus stop in Taipei.

A2C Aubyn Jones surrounded by curious onlookers, in Taipei.

Taipei Main Station 1959

This building reminds me of a school, possible one of the buildings at National Taiwan University, just north of Taipei Air Station.

Chiang Kai-shek statue on what looks like a circle roundabout some place in Taipei.

Outside a Temple, notice the smoke rising.

Another look at the Temple.

Life was not easy in Taiwan during these years.  Notice the boys and girls who are barefoot.  

Green Lake area on Xindian River. Looks like a couple of GI's are swimming.

Green Lake on the Xindian River.  
This photo is looking toward the north, an unusual shot, most look southward.

Green Lake looking south.

Looking south. 

Where you see those rocks on the right side, there was a coal mine of some sort right along the water line.  
Today the river height is much lower.

Green Lake on the Xindian River.
This was probably on the east bank of the river.  
Nothing fancy during this time along the river, shaded chairs and drinks, a small snack box.  Looks like the men are preparing the boat for soon to arrive customers.  This was probably taken on a Sunday.  
Green Lake would have been about a 30 minute bus ride from Taipei Air Station.

Double 10 1959.

This photo taken close to the gate, in photo above, notice the white sign in both photos.
Waiting for the ceremonies to begin.
This is probably the East Gate, just east of the Presidential Palace, where all Double 10 ceremonies take place.

The Presidential Palace decorated for Double 10.
Many pedicabs dropping off customers before the ceremonies. 
 It's a little early, the sun is still in the eastern sky, to our back.

A military unit is passing by as the ceremonies begin.
This old photo is special.
It shows two buildings that are of interest.
The three story building on the left side of this photo was, in 1959, the US MAAG Headquarters.
The white building in the center of this photo, just to the left of where the trees begin, was the Friends of China Club, a facility supposedly owned by Madam Chiang.   The building is still there today, the club closed probably in the mid 60s sometime.

Military units pass by during the parade.

Movement of rifles.  Each column of men at a different point of moving their rifles.  Look across the columns, the rifles are in different positions.

There must be a name for this movement, anyone remember?

Standing at Parade Rest, awaiting their turn to pass the reviewing stand.

If you look closely, you can just barely see the East Gate with the painting of Chiang Kai-shek seen in an earlier photo above.

1959 Trade Fair in Taipei

Confucius Temple in Taipei, 1959.

This Temple was and still is, about 5 blocks west of HSA in Taipei.

Typical street scene in Taipei, 1959.
The street cleaning woman is doing a good job.

Rugby game, probably a Sunday afternoon, some place in Taipei.  Looks like a group of tall men playing a local club.

My guess, GIs from Linkou.  They played Rugby in the Northeaste US and lots of GIs at Linkou were from that part of the country.

Rice field, location unknown, 1960.

A couple things caught my eye.

There are two white small boxes standing in the background.  They remind me of weather forecasting.  This could be an experimental farm, where a lot of weather information is collected to see what effect rain and temperature has on the experimental rice fields.

In the far background, there seems to be an Antenna Farm in the distance off to the right and to the left side in the distance, other poles that could be Antenna.

Anyone recognize this?

A two story, single family home in Taipei, 1960.
Today, very very expensive.

Late afternoon, riding off into the sunset, Taipei 1960.

A grounded, abandoned ship. Someplace close to Taipei.

Was it washed up during a typhoon?

Beautiful scene!
A boat heading down river, I'm guessing the Xindian River, 1960.

Here is one of the two R7V-2 USAF aircraft (Super Constellation) that was transferred to the USAF from the USN.

The mechanics worked anywhere back in the day.

Richard did not recall where he took this photo.

Thank you Richard.  You photos were special, showing many scenes from our early days in Taiwan.

Things changed in 1965 when the new Airman Barracks opened, and a few months later, the Dining Hall opened on Taipei Air Station.

But, the beauty of Taiwan and her people never changed.