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

Monday, August 12, 2019

Frank Smith - Busy at Taiwan Motors & Taipei Air Station Auto Hobby Shop

Today, quite a long story....

Let's look back at Taipei Air Station as it stood in the 1962-1963 time frame.

Frank Smith, a single Airman, was assigned to Taipei Air Station - April 1962 - July 1963.

Frank did not work at Taipei Air Station, his actual work assignment was at the Taiwan Motor Company Service Department, a Commercial Business, which performed maintenance and repair of all Military Vehicles assigned at Taipei Air Station. 

Frank's Business Card

 Taiwan Motor Company Service Department Garage - circa 1962- 1963

Here's the Same Ford Garage in early 1950s.

Today's photo, across the street, the same corner on which the Taiwan Motor Company Garage sat during Frank's assignment, 1962-1963.  I took this photo, early March 2019, some 57 years after Frank worked at the old garage.

The street above was named Chung Cheng Road during Frank's time, today the street is named Zhongxiao East Road.  
The right side of the old Taiwan Motor Company Garage building would probably have sat about where the red color signage begins, to the left of the 7-11 store.   A good portion of the 7-11 would have been parking and storage area on the side of the old building, this side street today looks much narrower across than it was in the early 1960s.  The garage was a large long building. 

Tap the Ctrl key and the  + key to enlarge the Metro map.

Looking at the Taipei Metro map, the Black Arrow points to a Red Diamond, that's where the Taiwan Motor Company Garage was located during Frank's tenure. 

Two blocks to the right side of the Red Diamond, is the Brown Metro line, Brown Color on Metro Map.  The trains pass North and South, on an above ground, overhead route.

Under this street, the Blue Metro line, blue color on Metro map, runs right and left.

Today, this area is a preferred location for shopping, fed by 2 Metro Lines and many bus lines.

The "must see" Taipei 101 Building, is a number of blocks to the right on the Metro Map, and a few blocks off to the south.

On the Metro Map above, Taipei 101 building is located approximately under the Purple Circle, next to the Red number 2, which signifies the last station east bound of the Red Metro line, one station beyond the Taipei 101 station.

Taipei Air Station is located where stretched RED CIRCLE, with the map name - "Gongguan", which is a Station on the Blue Line Metro.  We used to call the area Kung Kwan.  The old Taipei AS was about 200 yards or so south of the actual metro station, and off to the left of Roosevelt Road.

Taipei Air Station did not have a Military Repair Facility for their vehicles, therefore, all repairs and normal maintenance of vehicles was performed by the Taiwan Motor Company Service Department Garage under Military Contract. 

Frank and the other Army and Air Force members, working at Taiwan Motors Garage were each, Contracting Officers Representatives: (COR). Notice C.O.R. typed on Frank's Taiwan Motor Company ID Card, seen above.

Four U.S. Air Force members were assigned duty at Taiwan Motor Company  Service Garage to oversee and monitor the Military Contract, and ensure that the work was accomplished in accordance with established US Air Force Technical Orders.

Basically, there was a senior NCO in charge of the Air Force members at the garage, who assigned specific duties to each of his assigned Airmen.

When Frank wasn't working at the garage, he had the additional responsibility of opening the Auto Hobby Shop across the street from Taipei Air Station, and, only after after he was notified that someone had made a reservation to work on a POV or motorcycle.

The Auto Hobby Shop was open on weekends, IF, arrangements were made ahead of time.  If you wanted to use the shop, you had to call the motor pool to reserve a work area in the shop.  

Frank would open the Hobby Shop, based on reservations, that had been scheduled, but the shop was not often used.  Frank doesn't remember how he got lassoed into taking care of the Auto Hobby Shop.  It was basically an additional duty

During the early 1960s the shop was not utilized very often.  Things changed through the years, perhaps someone who utilized the shop during their years at Taipei AS might leave a Comment.  Thank you.

I was assigned at Taipei Air Station for 3 years 1965-1968, and never knew the Hobby Shop existed. 

Let's take a look at just where this Auto Hobby Shop was located at Taipei Air Station.

Frank took this photograph from the aircraft he was learning to fly, while passing over Taipei Air Station circa 1962-1963. .

Excellent photo of Taipei Air Station and surrounding area, including much of National Taiwan University Campus.

Hold down Ctrl on your keyboard and hit the + key on your keyboard to enlarge this and all photos... 

In Photo ABOVE, Purple colored circle is the Auto Hobby Shop Garage.

The Black colored circle includes the Auto Hobby Shop building Parking lot.

Photo below, much larger view

Photo courtesy Frank Smith taken while learning to fly, taken from different angle.

This the largest view of this photo I have.

Clearly see the Auto Hobby Shop inside Black Circle above.

Taipei AS, Back Gate just up to the right on backside of NCO Club.

Ctrl and + to enlarge this photo for better view

Black = Old Movie Theater
Green = Hostel (No exactly sure how much of building Hostel occupied.
Red = Auto Hobby Shop and parking lot

Back during my time at Taipei Air Station, we would have "Commander's Call" about once a month.  Everyone that could leave their duty work area would walk outside the compound and cross the street and go into the Movie Theater.  

The First Sergeant would talk about what was on his mind, I don't remember the Commander ever being there.  

At the end of the First Sergeants remarks, he would say something like, "I have here in my hand, a film that everyone is required to watch."

  The First Sergeant held the film up in the air, turned his hand from left to right, asked if everyone had watched the film?  A moan of yes filled the auditorium, the First Sergeant then gave the film to the man running the projector and walked out of the theater.  

Anyone not wanting to kill time, could walk out behind the First Sergeant, no reason to stay, because you had already "seen the film"  

 That was standard Operating Procedure for our unit while I was there. 

I want to also thank Rick Ferch for his help in identifying the Theater and Hostel Buildings.

Ariel photo courtesy Frank Smith, a bit out of focus, but a good photo while flying in an open cockpit aircraft .

Blue Circle - Taipei Air Station Motor Pool area and other offices,  Air Force vehicles parked everywhere.

Red Circle - Motor Pool Dispatch Office.

Both circles, pass over Taipei Air Station NCO Club, base exit road goes to the rear of the NCO Club and out the Back Gate.

Here's the Aircraft that Frank was aloft in when
 he took all of these Ariel photographs. 

 The Green box was the Hostel, how much of that building was actually housing the Hostel is unknown.

Here's Hostel #4, both photos courtesy of Rick Ferch.  

Here's another Photo of the Hostel & Theater, based on this sign, you have to believe they were somehow intermingled.

However, this sign says, Hostel 6, and the other sign says Hostel 4.  Umm, what's this all about?  

Maybe a Typo, doubt that, or did the FASD = Foreign Affairs Service Department change the numbers of their various Taipei Hostels?

 Finally, here they are, photographs of the Auto Hobby Shop.....

Night view at the Auto Hobby Shop sign.

Some folks working on their cars - no one in sight though..

Nice color slide, it was taken going on 60 years ago!  Thank you Frank...

Notice, what looks like a Master Sergeant's short sleeve fatigue shirt that's hanging on the gate, and his Brogans siting in the shade, just of left of MG.

OK, here are Frank's guesses on the parked vehicles in the area...  L to R

MG - 55 Lincoln - 1940's Plymouth and off to the right an old blue 1.5 Ton Weapons Carrier with typical yellow markings and a large forklift.

 Your guess, leave a Comment at end of this story.

 Looks like it's about noon, and the lights are still on?
This Ford was not in the previous photo, nor was the Tractor Trailer siting just on the side of the building above.

This may have been the trailer that tractor seen in photo above was pulling, that's probably the Back Gate just to rear of the trailer.

Someplace in the area around the Auto Hobby Shop was a Conex Container where the tools for the Auto Hobby Shop were stored.  No photos available. 
You know, the lights were probably never turned-off at the Auto Hobby Shop area to allow the guards to see inside the building and area at night. 

Lots of thievery happening in the Taipei area during the early years.

I shared an apartment with another Taipei AS NCO who worked inside the mountain.

Our apartment was located a short distance outside the back gate of the HSA East Compound Gate.  It was a new apartment building in 1966, our apartment was on the 2d floor.

One day after work I came home to discover that someone had broken into our apartment via a small door that led from the living room onto a very small outside porch, just wide enough to stand on and get a breath fresh air area, a couple of feet wide, too small for even a chair.

Anyway the thief got inside via cutting the glass on that door. 

We each had our own bedroom, and both bedroom doors were locked.

The thief was able to dig his way through the hardwood door far enough to unlock the door and enter my friends bedroom.   

The thief cleaned-out every thing that was in his room, except the bed frame and mattress.  EVERY THING ELSE.... was gone.

Nothing left in his room!

Can you imagine the feeling in your stomach if this had happened to you?

The thief had started to dig around the door handle on my hardwood bedroom door, but I  believe he was frightened away when I came home,  he must have had a lookout that told him someone was coming up the stairs, etc. etc.

So, my bedroom door remained locked!

You can imagine how my friend felt, he was wiped out, I was unblemished. 

It seems like he took items from the bathroom and as I recall, nothing was taken from the kitchen. 

My guess, had I not returned home when I did, the thief would have cleared out everything in our apartment.

My friend moved out, couldn't blame him, I think he went back to the Hostel, don't remember for sure.  We very seldom met up, he worked shift work at the tunnel, I worked straight days at Taipei Air Station Communications Squadron.

A week or so later, on a Saturday morning, the police knocked on the Apartment door, I looked out the peep hole and saw the Police standing there.

I opened the door, and the Policeman explained that the man standing beside him had "fessed-up" to robing the apartment.  He had sold the stolen goods to a Hock-Shop and I was given the address of where it was located.  

I got in touch of my friend and probably the next day we visited the Hock-Shop.
 As I recall, the shop was located in the south end of Ximin. (Shiminding) <- font="" s="" spelling.="" today="">

The thief, standing beside the Policeman in hallway outside my apartment door had blood on his clothing, was barefoot, looked like he needed rest.

Rope was tied around his legs, holding them just about tight, he had to kind of skip and jump along, his hands and arms were tied together behind his back.

These Taiwan Police were very serious, especially when they caught thieves.  

My friend was able to purchase back some items and filed a claim with the Legal Office to recoup his losses in monetary remuneration, which gave him money for new uniforms, civilian clothing, and all the other things that was stolen.  

I didn't file, the missing items from the bathroom, it was not worth the time and effort to fill out all the paperwork for the bathroom items or the broken door glass.

BTW, on the day of the incident, the thief had to leave the apartment via his entry point because the front door had a key lock on both sides of the door, you could not get out our front door without the key....

Maybe that was SOP in Taiwan back in the day?

Am I overwhelming you with too much information?   
Maybe you're ready for a rest, lots of information and maps..... 

Rest, get something to drink, close your eyes, recall your Taiwan days.

We're still at the Taipei Air Station Auto Hobby Shop...

Frank's photograph.
This looks like the street outside the Front gate at Taipei Air Station. .

Notice the Taiwan Air Force man on his bicycle, I bet he worked down in the tunnel area, which today,  is still just down the street. 
Notice - All of the men across the street are wearing the Light Brown trousers, which would indicate they are also Taiwan Military men.

Notice the Chevrolet is parked off to the right in this photo, the white license plate ID's it as a US Military POV.  

You can't see it in this photo, but along the wall of Taipei Air Station, coming from Roosevelt Road, was a ditch, it's just to the side of the driver's door on this Chevrolet. When I was there in 1965, there were some shops build above the ditch, most of them were Tailor Shops, selling shirts and men's suits. I purchased my first Taiwan made suit in a shop just outside the Taipei Air Station Main gate entrance.

They closed down those shops sometime during my assignment at Taipei AS.

Mr. Loo's Tailor Shop in the East Compound later became my Tailor Shop.

On 11 September 1963, Typhoon Gloria roared into Taiwan.

Frank was scheduled to fly out of Taiwan on or just after Typhoon Wendy's arrival.  Flights were cancelled for a short period of time, Frank had to be re-booked for return flight to CONUS.

While Frank was waiting for a new flight date, he and a friend drove around town and took photos of the damage from Typhoon Gloria.

We will present those photos soon.
Lots of damage to the Taipei Air  Station Auto Hobby Shop!

This is the only photo we have of the damaged shop area.

Frank left Taiwan later in September 1963.

Does anyone have any idea of what happened to the Auto Hobby Shop after Frank returned to the CONUS?

Perhaps the Hobby Shop never recovered from damages inflicted by the two typhoons which rocked the Taipei area in 1963.