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

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Life of a Young Airman in Tainan

Here is the US Forces Telephone Directory Page of Tainan and Tainan AB circa 1977 courtesy of Les D.

Click on Map for a large readable view.

Mike McCaffrey has a few rememberances of his time in Tainan as an 18 year old on his first assignment, in 1961.


And then there was the day a bunch of us from the Comm. Squadron in Tainan decided to hit the beach for a picnic. There we were: lots of dogs and beer, nice sand and surf, perfect day. We built ourselves a nice fire and proceeded to heat up some dogs, just enjoying the heck out of ourselves … but … THEN: some Chinese military trucks roared in, troops jumped out with rifles with LONG bayonets, and surrounded us. Since the rifles were pointed at US, we sort of decided to drop the dogs and put our hands in the air. We asked if any of those equally young troops spoke English, but they just stared at us. Finally, an officer arrived in a staff car and came up to us, our hands still in the air. He, speaking English, told us we were breaking the law by lighting a fire on the beach, stating that was a signal to the Bad Guys (on the Mainland) to attack. Seeing that we were obviously harmless, he told the troops to lower their rifles, and get back into the trucks. He instructed us to douse the fire and to NEVER do that again. And off they went. We were pretty well shaken by all those rifles. Needless to say, we didn’t go back and brag about this to anyone, but we did quietly pass the word about bonfires.


There was an air shuttle run by the Chinese Air Force (Nationalist) from Tainan to Taipei. A few of us from the Comm Squadron were sent up to Taipei for some sort of training with the Comm Headquarters up there. We were driven planeside to catch the flight. I will never forget the sight of that plane: it was a Goonie (C-47) … painted drab green … had the large Nationalist flag painted on its tail … sitting out by itself on the tarmac on a bright and beautiful Tainan morning. Inside, it had the old bucket seats, that webbing one sees on those old WW-II “paratroop movies.” The door to the cockpit was open during the entire flight, and the Chinese pilots would look back at us and smile. As the flight got off and going, the plane would suddenly lurch downwards and then back up. Seems the young Chinese pilots did that quite frequently, diving down at the mountains, to see if the passengers would get sick (some did) … and the young pilots would just look back and laugh.


Who can forget that we did all our transactions off base with the local money: NT Nationalist Taiwanese Dollars? Seems I might have spent a few of those things buying a few beers at a few local establishments. The beer, if I recall it correctly, was pretty horrid!

I recall we had a pretty good AFN RADIO setup there in Tainan. A guy named DON CORMIER (kormay) was one of the local jockeys, played all the good stuff from the States.

Another station I used to listen to a lot was RADIO MANILA (forgot the call sign, it HAS been 47 years!). It was usually around 2100 or later at night, on a warm Tainan tropical evening, and I can still hear the sexy female voice saying: “Radio Manila, in the air … everywhere.” It went sooo well with cold San Miguel beer ….


One morning, I was returning from breakfast, heading for my dorm (our living accommodations were definitely not something one would call a “barracks,” they were really nice dorms). I was feeling pretty frisky (18 years old) and was (for whatever dumb reason) attempting to juggle a few oranges as I was walking along. I did, vaguely, recall a car having just passed me, but paid more attention to the oranges. Just then I heard the noticeable screeching of tires as the car flew up to me in reverse. The Base Commander, a Colonel Eaton, jumped out and asked why I didn’t salute him, since his staff car DID have the appropriate plaque on the front. Oranges on the ground and mortified, I was at attention and attempting to stammer how sorry I was. He made me promise I would NOT make that mistake again, gave me a little smile, and drove off. I didn’t make that mistake again ….


We were all kids back then. Young, full of life, and immensely enjoying our lives and times there in exotic Tainan. I can still see all the faces, frozen in time and all young and vibrant in my mind. One, today, wonders whatever happened to those guys? About all I can hope for is that they went off and had as wonderful a life as I was fortunate enough to experience. If ANY of them see this, please get in touch, would love to reminisce.

Mike McCaffrey email:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Tainan Alumni Reflects on Good Times in the South

Taiwan: My Initial impressions …

Mike McCaffrey
2165th Comm.Squadron
Tainan 1961-63

Tainan AS was my first Air Force assignment. I was just a very green 18 year old kid at the time, and thrilled to be heading to the exotic Orient.

I left my home in Massachusetts in a blizzard, flew to California, and then on to Hickam in Honolulu. This was about the time the Elvis movie: Blue Hawaii was popular, and I couldn’t believe I was actually standing in the area of Diamond Head. The layover at Hickam was not long, and we caught the next flight out to Clark AB, via a scary landing at Wake and then Guam. After an overnight at Clark (it was Christmas, HOT as the dickens, and “Santa” was making the rounds in a Jeep), we flew on to Taipei. The thing that sticks in my mind so clearly to this day was the landing at Taipei. Coming in low, I saw a farmer, conical hat and all, with a WATER BUFFALO … tilling his field. Man, THAT was something I didn’t see everyday in Massachusetts! I couldn’t wait to hit the ground and enjoy my time there in Taiwan!

Catching yet another flight, I moved on to Tainan. I was met plane side by a few guys from the Squadron. They came in a large truck, and I just threw my duffel bag into the back, hopped in, and off we went across the flight line to the very modern dorms there on the Station. We had two-man rooms, the setup was very nice.

I can recall our Orderly Room was a Quonset Hut, but can’t seem to recall whether our Comm Center was also in a Quonset or was housed in a more permanent type building. One night, working the Midnight Shift, I had to visit the latrine. It was housed in a Quonset, across the street from the Comm Center. It was around 0300, I was all by myself in there. As I was walking out, two Air Policemen passed me, went in, they had shotguns in their hands. I heard a loud BOOM! They came out with the longest/biggest SNAKE I had ever seen. That THING was in there with ME! I didn’t go back in there during the off-hours again without making a racket to see if anything moved!

A few of the “perks” there were the excellent MOGAMBO CLUB (U.S. Military), and an outstanding beach setup restricted for U.S. military and dependents only. It was through a wooded area with a small dirt path, and leads me to the following:

A lot of us had motorcycles/mopeds. A few of us headed off to the beach one day via that dirt path. It was totally surrounded by thick vegetation. I was in the lead that day. All of a sudden I spotted a large dust cloud in front of us. In the midst of that cloud was a HUGE water buffalo. He/she/it was kicking the ground with one hoof, like one sees in the movies. I was fascinated, but put up my hand to stop the guys behind me. There was not much room on that path to maneuver, due to the woods … and snakes … etc. So we were pretty much restricted to the small path. The beast did not move, so I did … inching up more and more. I got to within about eight feet and then, since it didn’t move, hit my horn button on the handlebar … beep-beep. THAT got the monster in motion … right at ME! There was a tree overhanging the path, and I caught an instantaneous glimpse of a big branch. I jumped straight up off my seat, grabbed the branch, and was hanging there as the buffalo approached. Then I saw a LITTLE guy behind it. He walked up, grabbed the thing by the ear, laughed at me, and off they went. The other guys had jumped into the woods, but one wise acre had a camera and took my picture … hanging upside down … with the little guy laughing at me. It was posted in the Dining Hall the next morning when I came in. It took me awhile to live that down.

I can recall the city of Tainan, more/less. In viewing the movie: THE SAND PEBBLES, there was a scene when the Americans were coming back from the Consulate, under guard from the Nationalist troops, marching through town and getting pelted with all sorts of garbage. That street reminded me EXACTLY of the main street in Tainan at that time (1961). I recall a restaurant we all seemed to frequent, it was named The White Bear. The owner had a gorgeous daughter around the age of 15, I think.

I also recall the Air Station was surrounded by farms, and we drove past the fields from the Station in the shuttle bus to get to the main road to town/Mogambo Club.

And, of course, the Chinese girls were lovely ….. 

It was a superb assignment!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The First Brain Teaser

The Taipei Air Station Web Page has been "up" for more than 2 years.

I was thinking about a new piece for the Blog this morning and a wonderful question came into my mind.

Of all the photographs taken in Taipei, which photographed site would you guess has generated the most photographs sent in to our e-mail or PO box? I'm not talking about an area, I'm talking about a particular building being in a photograph. Give it a little thought, let your mind wander around for a few minutes. If you were taking pictures during your time in Taipei, which site, place, building, or what ever would you have photographed for sure?

I have many photographs, which shot do think I have the most different copies of?

Click on the "Comments" entry below and give us your thoughts and guess.

This will open up the movie projector in your mind, enjoy those pictures passing by in your thoughts. Happy days they were, wonderful people. God Bless Taiwan. Don't be shy. let us hear from you. It's easy, just click on the Comments block in the bottom right side of this post.

Addendum: You guys are too smart. I need to work harder on my questions next time. Yes, the Grand Hotel is correct. Who could pass that beautiful building and not take a pictue. No one.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Taipei Air Station Alumni Writes

A wonderful e-mail was sent by Dave Schleife.
Dave served here during 1966-1967.
Here is his letter.

Ah yes... The updated photos from mid 1970's showing P-31 on the annotated photo was where I worked in the Single Sideband (SSB) station, and the microwave tower was built while I was there. About where the new main gate is on the photo, was a very large antenna (looked like an oversized tv antenna (110-ft long, 100-feet high) that we could 'work' virtually anywhere in the world with 15,000 watts of transmitter power. More than a few MARS contacts to Riverside CA were made 'unofficially' on this system for emergency traffic? The 'new' chow hall was built and opened while I was there. Before that, we took all our meals at Club-13. This was 1966-1967. I lived in the barracks, 3rd floor, right next to the latrine, overlooking the main compound. Your opening photo could have been taken from my room, for the view is the same. Eddie was the house boy? (Biggest black market operative on the compound?)

The only people I remember was our unit NCO, Msgt Bacon, Ssgt Knippel, and one of my trainee's, I.J. Blevens. And of course, 'The Joz' (Joslin) from AFNT, who lived down the hall. I taped his evening show for him, and when he got back, he'd drop in to listen to the tape to 'critique' the show. His show was the ONLY rock music heard on AFNT. His show went out on AM/FM for the Taipei area, and on 2 shortwave frequencies for the SEA theatre.

The microwave tower left a lot of short pieces of conduit, which we used on Chinese New Year, as bazooka's for our bottle rockets. Our Chinese guard, who had a rifle with no ammo, talked one of our guys into holding his rifle while he went to get bottle rockets, and then proceeded to shoot bottle rockets from his rifle barrel? And with about 10 of us (2 shifts off duty) we out-numbered him. And yes, there was just a wee little bit of beer involved?

Sideband operators where known as 'ditty-boppers', since we had to know Morse Code? "SNOOPY" did a ditty-bop, when his feet were flapping and his ears were flying? I left a magic-marker 'short-timers calender' on my room wall 4-feet tall, on a light green paint? Snoopy was doing the 'ditty-bop'... Wonder how many coats of paint it took to cover it up?

I did a 90-day TDY to Tainan while there, but Taipei was my first choice. I've taken the McArthur C47 out to the Matsu islands, then back to CCK and Tainan several times. I often walked the 7-miles from TAS to the Navy compound, to shop the many little shops along the way. A rest stop at the Ambassador Hotel was a must... On a clear day, with a 400-mm telephoto lens, the mainland was visible. Didn't happen very often, due to smog? Or fog?

Yes, TAS has a very special place in my heart, and in my life. I loved the place. Go out on the street, and school kids would practice their English on me, and I'd practice my Chinese on them. My name was translated several times to the same, or SHU' Da-WE', or David Shu. I could sign it in Chinese. If I could remember how? I'm getting old, and forget a lot of things. I have Parkinson's, and even typing is difficult. Today, I am having a GOOD day, and am trying to share some of my thoughts on a very fond memory.

I tried, after getting orders to a SAC base in Michigan, to extend in Taipei? Nope, SAC has priority? They needed me... SAC didn't know what to do with me? Six months later, I did a 180-day TDY back again. LOVED it even more the second time, because I missed it so much.

I really appreciate your site, since it brings back so many very good memories? The people of Taiwan were so innocent and open? They were honestly friendly, not just after our money?

I used to go up to the University just North of TAS, sit on a bench, and take pictures of beautiful girls walking by? MOST of them would stop and talk to me, and most asked for pictures? I got a lot of dates that way? When they want pictures, they give you a phone number? And yes, Taiwanese women also are vain... And usually hungry, since they are students? When the film is developed, you call them, and take them to dinner. Very nice evening, even if it doesn't go further? VERY beautiful women!

Really love your site. If you can use my aged ramblings, feel free...

SSgt Dave Schleife, Sideband shift supervisor

Our Taipei Air Station Web Page is here....