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

Friday, January 2, 2009

Big Construction Projects in the Tainan Area 1958

James (Jim) Nelson of North Carolina sent a number of photographs taken in Tainan during his short assignment at Tainan Air Base in 1958. Jim departed the CONUS on Christmas Day 1956 headed for Camp Drake, Japan. During the next 3 years he was assigned to various units located in Korea, a number of units in Japan and at Tainan AB, Taiwan. Most of the work his unit was involved in was construction of concrete runways throughout Asia.

Jim was an US Army Soldier assigned to A Company, 802nd Engineer Aviation Battalion. This battalion was one of many who were attached with the US Air Force. They were called - SCARWAF - Special Category Army Reassigned with Air Force. I cannot find an explanation for why the Army was assigned to the Air Force, but a logical explanation would be something like this: The US Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for construction of military installations. The Army had personnel designated to work in the construction area. These SCARWAF folks have quite a history, but there is nothing in writing on their Taiwan projects.

I would appreciate someone coming forward with a more thorough explanation of the SCARWAF, how and why it was formed and it's mission. Interesting nevertheless...

The unit designation "Engineer Aviation Battalion" would indicate that these folks were intermingled with aviation. In 1958, here they were at Tainan Air Base in southern Taiwan involved with infrastructure and building construction.

One of the projects in the Tainan area was building a site in the foot hills southeast of Tainan. This site later became a Missile facility. The history of missile sites in Taiwan is scarce. I hope someone might send something for a future update.

Click on each photo to get a very clear view of the area.

Roads were the first thing constructed. Without a dry hard surface road, building cannot proceed at the facility.

The first thing the men need is a hot meal. Here the Mess Sergeant is preparing something for lunch. Notice the large trash cans and the submersible stove to heat water. These cans were put out in 3's for the men to wash their mess kits. Notice the runway steel on the ground and the mess trailer parked down the road. There is also a Heinz cardboard box, I guess it held catsup, your thoughts?
Looks like the frame work of a new building be constructed here, is that GI a little overweight or am I seeing things? Maybe that's the Mess Sergeant helping construct the new Mess Hall.....

Looking down the hill from the area of the missile facility being constructed.
Another view from the new construction area.

I hope someone will fill in the blank spaces on this post. Jim was there during the construction but he was not there when the facility opened. It would be interesting to know the history of this site and what became of it when the missiles were moved to Tainan.

Coming next - Tainan AB gets a new water tank, water lines and many new buildings.


Joe Chang said...

Hi there, cool stuff! I am a Taiwanese lives in Taipei, came across your blog and I like your stories very much! Thanks for helping Taiwan to make it a free country. My email address is

Anonymous said...

Hello all! I had the honor of meeting an 85 year old veteran today who was in the 802nd Engineers at Tainan, ROC in 1958. He was rather hard of hearing. Stated he lost most of his hearing on TDY to either Matsu or Quemoy during an artillery attack that year (began August 23, 1958 marking the beginning of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis). Hard to find any information on US personnel on any of those islands. If anyone has information on 802nd deployment to Matsu or Quemoy, please email