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|The election of President Carter brought with it the initiative to recognize the People's Republic of China and normalize our relations with the Mainland nation, the decision was made to sever our long-standing ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and remove our military presence there. Soon after Carter took office, Shu Linkou Air Station and its clandestine mission shut down as part of President Carter's larger diplomatic decision. With her days now numbered, her mission was handed off to other units and the dismantling began in preparation for turning over the base to the ROC military. Personnel were moved out to other stations around the globe and to the States. The Linkou era, which began as a detachment from Clark AB, Philippines on February 16, 1955, came to an end on April 1, 1977.
Copy of the newspaper article that appeared in the December 18, 1976, edition of the South China Morning Post
Ben McDonald, one of the early arrivals at SLK, in 1955 as the station opened, jotted down a few of his memories as he arrived and began work in 1955.
‡ † ‡ † ‡I arrived in Formosa on a nice Spring day in 1955. The airport still had bomb pock marks from WWII.
We were transported by 6 bye's to Linkou with locals gathered along the way welcoming us with thumbs up. We had no idea what awaited us, two metal buildings and a few tents was it. We immediately set to the task of erecting tents, getting cots with fart sacks and setting up our living quarters. Don't remember much more about that first day.
The second day found the shift I was on relieving the mid shift which consisted of one man with piles of newspapers, full ashtrays and empty coffee cups. That first shift started out as a blank page, no info on anything. We were told to pick out a radio station, have a seat and wait for further instructions. A TA guy came in and told us our targets were radar stations tracking planes. Other than the TA guy, it seems like I was the only one who understood much about what our targets were.
I started randomly searching and found a station sending grids. After getting call signs and measuring frequency, the TA guy identified it as one of our targets. The assistant had someone else take over this target and told me to keep searching. I found five or six stations sending grids that morning and got kind of peeved because the assistant kept handing them off to others. After several days things started to get better organized and we were on our way. 61 years ago. Memories!
Ben McDonald, Woodstock, GA - 1955 - 1956
Thus begins our retrospective look at Shu Linkou and the memories we have cherished.
|TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Click on Topic)
|VERNON SIEBERT by Ron Laske||TRAGIC PLANE CRASH IN GUAM by Gary Knighton||QUEENIE THE BASE MASCOT by Bob Atherton|
|MY FIRST THANKSGIVING DINNER AT LINKOU by Don Dietz||A CLOSE CALL AT THE BEACH PARTY by Monte Pettit||A VERY LINKOU CHRISTMAS by Homer Waring|
|THE LATRINE AUTHOR by Martin Sandy Doria||GOATRACIDE by Martin Sandy Doria||ANOTHER GOAT STORY by Jack Norlin|
|A SHU LINKOU CHRISTMAS CAROL by Martin Sandy Doria||THE WATER BUFFALO by Martin Sandy Doria||THE LINKOU COMMUNIST by Martin Sandy Doria|
|LINKOU RESCUE by Martin Sandy Doria||<THE LAX OFFICERS OF LINKOU by Martin Sandy Doria||THE LINKOU AREA BEAUTIFICATION PROGRAM by Martin Sandy Doria|
|THE BULLY OF LINKOU by Martin Sandy Doria||TYPHOONS||MY 15 SECONDS OF FAME by Ed Bohannon|
|LONG BREAKS & NIGHTLIFE||WAFs AT LINKOU by Judy Tabler Duer||"FACE" by Martin Sandy Doria|
|THE BALLAD OF THE LINKOU MOUNTAIN WRECK(submitted by Luther Deese)
Authorship attributed to Larry Eshleman
by Matt Murphy
|TEN TEN DAY
by Martin Sandy Doria
|LIVING OFF BASE||RARIFIED AIR
By Martin Sandy Doria Doria
|SHUTTLE BUS TO AND FROM TAIPEI|
|UFO's AT LINKOU||CHINESE SURGERY
By Luther Deese
|THE LINKOU COMIC
By Martin Sandy Doria
By Pat Kirol
VERNON SEIBERT - 1924 - 2013
On January 26, 2013, Vernon Seibert, 88, Columbia, Md passed away. Vern was a neighbor and friend, who commanded a B-25 (Mitchell) as a pilot in World War II. He served in the southwest Pacific in the 13th Air Force.
Vern was born in Baltimore in 1924, graduated from Patterson Park HIgh School in 1942, and joined the AAC. He applied for Aviation Cadet. Vern entered pre-flight and flight training and took command of a B-25 before his 20th birthday. During the Pacific campaign, he bombed targets in the South and Southwest Pacific. He was separated from the USAAF at the end of the war, entering the University of Maryland, majoring in math, and lettered 4 years as a Halfback and Defensive Back in football, playing on two bowl teams when there were only five bowl games. He taught High School math, coached sports besides football and was "very competitive and smart." He was also the High School Athletic Director. Vern was the defensive backfield coach for a University of Maryland National Championship football team. He had interesting stories on the "recruiting trail" under head coach James "Big Jim" Tatum, who had the Terps on the top of the heap in the 1950's.
Vern flew several missions over "Formosa" and told me that he bombed Linkou (SLK) airfield (known in those days as Lamsepo Air Drome.) It was a Japanese fighter base. We were having a few cold ones prior to a Terps football game, and the subject of Taiwan came up. He said it was "Formosa" in his days and he bombed it in late 1944 and in 1945. SLK was one of the targets. There were other targets on the island.
Interesting to note was that early on, he could not pass the math end of the aviation cadet entrance exam. He enlisted, took engine and air frame repair, got the math class in tech school, and shortly thereafter passed the entrance test for pilot school, completing pre-and flight school. Vern was a man of many seasons, very intelligent, great athlete, played at about 150 Lbs., cultured, and a great dancer, married with four children--all great citizens. I think he was just one of the "Greatest Generation."
This is one of our old WW II vets who passed on and had a history in the skies above SLK Air Station. Additional info (click here)
Ron Laske , Columbia, MD, Charlie Flight, 1961 - 1962
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Ya'll shook another memory loose from my rusty mushy cortex.
One day in the early '60's, the base maintenance crew is digging in the area near Operatons to lay some new cable or such. As most of you know, Linkou was Japanese Base in WWII. Lo and behold, the diggers came upon a whole slew of small Japanese aerial bombs that had been abandoned and/or buried by the evacuating Japanese at war's end.
A call then came into someone who was responsible for cleaning up many of the 'unusual' occurrences at Linkou...a literal garbage man for miscellaneous crapola. When I got to the scene, the bombs were partially covered by dirt and the trusty crew wisely desisted operations whilst someone dumber than them took charge. I had an AP vehicle pull up close by and, having some bomb disposal experience at a previous Japanese base (only my laundry man knew the extent of my bravado back then), I gingerly gathered up the bombs like so many bowling pins, placed them in the rear of the vehicle and drove them to a Chinese Army bomb disposal unit on the Hill. The Chinese were not too happy to see me but graciously allowed me to unload my cargo at one of their sites. Mario (that's me) then returned to the O Club on the Hill for a shot of anything to stop the shakes and then back to the paperwork dealing with the antics of our personnel in Taipei.
Martin Doria, Pensacola, FL, Provost Marshal - 1962 - 1965
TRAGIC PLANE CRASH IN GUAM
While we served at Linkou, we may not have had it in the forefront of our minds, we were actually in a 'War Zone.' No, the bullets and artillery were not flying, but at Linkou we served in the backwater area while living and working in a country that was technically in a State of War with the People's Republic of China. I'm not sure that many of us considered our safety and well-being as the prime consideration. We were content to leave that issue in the hands of those above our pay grade. Even on the winding mountain road on the way to Taipei and back, we were probably in more danger of going over the side of the road to our death (which did happen occasionally) than checking out as a result of enemy fire.
Nonetheless, our service had its perils, not the least of which was getting from the United States to our assigned duty stations and back again at the end of our tour. Those were the days of prop and turbo-prop air machines. Again, notwithstanding the cabin stewards' warning and emergency instructions should we have to ditch in the ocean, most of us just didn't seriously consider such a risk.
One of our own, Bruce Skaug, died along with his wife, Val and 78 others in a tragic plane crash shortly after take off from Guam, while returning to the States after he had served his 2nd tour at Linkou. Bruce was well-liked by those who knew him; had a great sense of humor and, with his upbringing as the son of a minister, possessed a straight moral compass.
(Click on Article to Enlarge)
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I remember my flight from the Philippines to Taipei. It was a trip to remember. Eleven A3C's and one MSgt flew out of Clark AB on SLIC Airlines (contract flight.) I knew right away, this looked like trouble. The aircraft had 4 prop engines. It lost one engine about 15 minutes out of Clark, then lost another one on the opposite side about the no return point. The navigator got us over the Formosa Straits and 2 MiG fighters came up and flew beside us. But, they bugged out when 4 National Chinese aircraft came up and escorted us to Tainan instead of Taipei. Everyone was unloaded at the Tainan airport for a couple hours before the Chinese military took us to a nice hotel and fed us. It was an awesome meal, but only the MSgt knew what we were eating. It was a "HOOT". After eating, we were transported back to the airport. The aircraft engines had been repaired and the commercial crew was no longer available, so National Chinese Air Force pilots flew us to Taipei.
Some of the Airmen on that flight were: Michael Monser, from Otego, NY; Dennis English from Pennsylvania; George Henderson from Washington, DC; David Brazell from Athal, MA; Joseph Dolbow from New Jersey; Edward Dukard from Pennsylvania, and Joe Dunn from New York.
Frank Hopkins, Hughes Springs, TX - May, 1962 - August, 1963
BOB ATHERTON'S NEWSPAPER ARTICLE - QUEENIE THE BASE MASCOT
Briefly, prior to his return to the ZI, Bob Atherton was assigned to duties in the Information Services office. Bob found new life in his new duties by submitting an article to The China Post newspaper about the Linkou mascot, "Queenie." While the article did not earn Bob the Pulitzer Prize, it may well have aroused his latent writing talents and paved the way for a later successful career with Boeing as an engineer. The article is shown below as it first appeared in the January 17, 1963, edition of The China Post.
|The China Post January 17, 1963
(Used with permission of Bob Atherton)
|Commanding Officer's Letter to Atherton
(click image to enlarge)
|Queenie||Queenie (another view)|
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"It may be noted that the animals in the two images above do not resemble each other (other than 4 legs and a tail.) To you naysayers, I submit that Queenie was more a state of mind and an attitude to those of us at Linkou. It could well be (and probably is true) that Queenie was more than one dog over a long period of time and that when the "reigning" Queenie moved on, another took her place. We didn't care. Queenie gave us the opportunity during a time and a place in history (when sanity and humanity were sometimes hard to find) to show that humanity to an unfortunate, helpless animal. It helped us cope with the stresses of work and being so far away from home."
Gary Knighton, Indian Trail, NC - February, 1961 - July, 1963
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"Now that story is just too wonderful not to comment upon. One day, around 196?, whilst awaiting the "Linkou Bus" for the long ride home after a long shift, I found Queenie lounging around the bus stop just next to the Club. Actually, lounging was Queenie's way of looking for something to eat. I had the remains of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich left in my baggie that I was prepared to eat on the way into town. But her beautiful (and always sad) eyes bore into me and I relented. I held the crumb of sandwich out to her. She strained to leap into the air (pregnant again) to take it out of my hand but suddenly fell back to earth in a furry heap! It was obvious that she had gotten a smell of the peanut butter (or maybe it was the jelly) just before her canines snatched it from my hand and in the blink of the eye, decided it was somehow different from the smell of those wonderful steaks from the chow hall she was prone to!!"
"Queenie had a super memory...she never begged anything from me from there on out!!. Thanks for sharing that bit of memory with us all.....Cheers."
Don Dietz, Lauderhill, FL - 1956-58 & 1960-64
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David Cain with Queenie
"I just read Bob Atherton's article re: Queenie and the Peanut butter sandwich. I was in Linkou between 1957 and 1958 and I never once saw or smelled Peanut Butter. The first thing I ate after returning to the ZI was a Peanut butter Sandwich. Queenie wouldn't have had a chance at that PB Sandwich if I was there. It sure brings back memories."
David Cain, Boca Raton, FL - July, 1957 - December, 1958
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Back in 1956, I arrived at Det 1, 6925 RSM, in either Sept or Oct (can't remember which.) The weather was getting cold and it rained just about every day. Gloomy!! We got an announcement that things were looking up because the AF mess hall had just received new ovens and they were going to cook a special super Thanksgiving meal to brighten the holidays.
Well, when the day came, I finished my day shift (I was temporarily working as a 202 vs 203.) I headed over to the mess hall in anticipation of a great meal. I took up my tin plate (you know, the partioned kind) and spoon (we had no forks...just big old steel spoons) and got into line. They were right, there was great fixins and plenty of it too. Mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, and plenty of beautiful brown turkey meat. I filled my plate and added a huge turkey leg. I went to a table and prepared for a feast. I picked up the leg and readied my choppers for what I expected would be the great taste of sweet meat. As my jaw came down, my teeth went deep into.....the leg of nearly raw, bloody turkey meat. I threw it down. Of course it looked good on the outside but the inside was completely raw!! I looked around and others were experiencing essentially the same thing. Then the chief cook came out and seeing the problem explained that the ovens were so new the staff had not had time to be thoroughly trained in their use. The rest of the food, that which cooked quickly was fine, but the meat was inedible.
It was years after that before I could look a turkey leg in the thigh!
Don Dietz, Lauderhill, FL - 1956-58 & 1960-64
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I arrived at Linkou in February, 1961. In looking at the photo of the Chow Hall and reading Don's recollection of the Thanksgiving Day meal in 1956, my experience with the Linkou Chow Hall seems Light-Years removed. Ed Maloney provided an original menu describing the Thanksgiving meal in 1961. Separated by six years, Don probably would not have recognized the meal Ed and I enjoyed compared with the one he had to endure. Thanks Ed for sharing this bit of Linkou memorabilia.
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
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(Stars and Stripes Article provided by Howard Smith, Charlie Flight Commander - Click on Image to Enlarge)
It was a Trick Party, mostly beer and hot dogs, paid for by profits from selling sandwiches during mid shifts. Anyway, I and five others found a wooden boat buried in the sand. We dug it out and launched it with boards for paddles. We didn't really notice the rip tide until we had moved a ways from shore. Near a little coral outcropping, it was decided to get back to the beach. I queried the others and found two who were good swimmers and one who couldn't swim. I believe that was Larry Mason from the article. I had each of the good swimmers take a so-so swimmer in tow and they started back. I heard later that one of my swimmers had to yell at his guy to get him to keep swimming. Anyway, the one who couldn't swim (the boat by then was completely waterlogged and wouldn't hold anyone) had his hand on my shoulder to stay afloat while I treaded water. After quite a while, and watching those on shore try and launch a Chinese fishing boat and having trouble with the shore waves, one of the swimmers swam out to us again. Why, I don't know. As tired as I was, he took the non-swimmer and I floated and tried to think of something to save my ass. I tried taking off my T-shirt and tried to make an air sac. Didn't work!
Then I tried it with my swim suit. That didn't work either and I had to discard them. There comes the chopper! I wrapped my arm around the skid and he towed me toward shore. (Herb Murphy has a photo of me dark-white-dark [naked] and the chopper, if he'll give it to you.) The chopper dropped me off in waist deep water and someone came out with a blanket for me. I pointed the chopper back out to where I thought the other two were, and they only picked up one guy--Larry. The swimmer had left him!!? I found out while the chopper carted us off to othe Navy dispensary that Larry had learned a technique in language school that non-swimmers can use to keep from drowning. The dispensary had us driven to my place to get my car and return to the beach. My wife thought it was funny that I'd almost drowned.
Anyway, by the time we got back to the beach, the hot dogs were all gone. I'd forgotten the names of those guys and often wondered what happened to them.
Monte Pettit, Bellevue, NE - August, 1962 - August, 1964
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My recollecton of the event is basically the same as Monte. We found the boat, sunk in sand and dug it out. After finding that it floated, four of us got into it with a couple of beers and started floating out to sea.
After running out of beers, we decided to paddle back to shore but alas, no one thought of taking anything to paddle with. Our decision was to jump over board and swim back to shore on the 'buddy' system. After getting in the water, whoever I was with said he could't swim but he could float. I tried staying with him but the tide was taking us further out.
I started swimming but as a foolish 21 year old, I couldn't make any headway. Panic was about to set in as saltwater was swallowed. After what seemed like a lifetime, I finally made it to shore. One other guy had made it in also. The helicopter was able to pick up another guy, but the 'floater' was still out there. After looking for a period of time, they spotted him and they were able to tow him to shore--naked as a jaybird. He had tried using his shirt and pants as a floating device which didn't work. My memory is starting to fade but I think we were called in to the Commander's office and reprimanded for our stupidity.
We were telling people that we were trying to get to China--basically the same story.
Walt Lindstrom, Wauchula, FL - 1964
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It was midway through a swing shift right before Christmas. The Day Ladies had departed hours ago and the T-A Shop was pretty much deserted. Brightly lit but quiet, the large room's only noise came from the occasionally twinking fluorescent lights. I was systematically going through my stack of the day's provender from the MC-88 "mills" up on the "Ops Floor."
Unexpectedly, the door opened and, "what to my wondering eye should appear?" Santa Claus!! Bigger than life!! "HO, HO, HO," he said. "Merrrrrry Christmas." Now, I've never been a voice operator analyst, but still, this did not sound like any Santa Claus I ever heard before. You might say the voice was very chaplainesque. That's it!! The Chaplain was dressed up as Santa Claus! He handed me a little candy cane which he produced from his sack, and left.
It quickly dawned on me that something memorable was going to happen--in the next couple of minutes. Considering the rough edges on some of the guys up on the Ops Floor and the fact that the chaplain was in disguise, I could not miss seeing this!!! I was not disappointed.
Santa's very first encounter was at the DF desk. "HO, HO, HO. Merry Christmas," he said in his soft dulcet voice.
"Merry M...er-F.....g Christmas!!!", the DF Operator responded. Santa continued to hand out candy canes, but his "HO, HO, HO's" now seemed to be strained and I do not believe that he gave a candy cane to the DF Operator.
Homer Waring, San Antonio, TX - November, 1961 - May, 1964
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The name of the individual escapes me at the moment, but he was a SSgt sitting in the DF position to the DF site on a swing on Christmas Eve. He had had a few before the swing and was getting kicked on the position. The Chaplain came by passing out candy and saying, "HO, HO, HO, Merry Christmas" as he walked behind the SSgt. Without even looking up, the SSgt gave him the finger behind his back and said, "Merry MF'ing Christmas to you too."
I remember it well because I was standing right beside the person when it happened.
Jesse Coultrap, Atascosa, TX - January, 1961 - August, 1964
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Guess who got his ass chewed the next day for Santa's reception. But that's OK, I didn't particularly like that Chaplain anyway--he was too "establisment." I liked the other one better--at least twice a month he would throw his Captain's bars on the Base Commander's desk and threaten to quit over some issue, usually involving you guys. You may not have known this at the time, but he looked after the single GI's living on base. Being an Officer and a Gentleman, I can't tell you his denomination. But I can say that when I'd run into him at the "O" Club, it was, "Hey Father, wanna roll for a beer?"
Thomas W. Penn, Flight Commander - Charlie Flight, Bowie, MD - July, 1962 - December, 1964
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Note: We lost Ron "Tex" Loftin in February, 2011. Those that did not know him missed knowing a good man. The following is an excerpt of an e-mail that Tex sent me in December, 2008, regarding Santa's visit and the Linkou A. S. Christmas decoration contest.
"Yogi was right, it probably wasn't me who said that even though I was pretty steamed that night. To be honest, I don't remember Santa coming through handing out candy canes, but then...I don't remember this morning either. So I'm trusting in Yogi's memory to be right.
My funky mood that night was tied to "Motormouth", "Cyclone", "Tornado" (or, as he was born, Guy Orr) and I having just won the $100 1st prize for the basewide contest for the best barrack decoraton. Orr was quite the artist and I was quite the opposite with my wood-working skills, but when it was all said and done, we won--whether by default or otherwise, we never knew. I look back now and figure the only way we did it was that everyone else who entered were not as driven as we were by the money.
Anyway, getting on with me being somewhat disjointed, I was sure looking forward to that extra $50. That money would have provided all kinds of entertainment in Taipei. As was expected, shortly after winning the contest, Orr and I were congratulated for doing a fine job, for the esprit d'corps exhibited, and a bunch of other chest-puffing stuff. Unexpectedly, and in the same breath, we were told how proud the honchos were of us for donating our winnings to the Shu Linkou sponsored orphanage that was located somewhere down the hill from us. I never found out exactly where down the hill, but learned that some colonel's wife from downtown had handled it on our behalf and without our knowledge.
Winning that contest added nothing to my Taipei adventures. The Colonel's wife's philanthropy cost me several night's worth of Taipei entertainment. Yep! I was upset regardless if Santa did or did not come by the DF desk with his handouts and cheer, but not that bad. Thinking back, the orphanage was the right thing."
Ron M. Loftin, Conroe, TX (12/18/1942 - 02/09/2011) - April, 1962 - March, 1963
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The shenanigans, like those described above, that went on during work and off-duty hours was a welcome relief to the troops that worked in Operatios. Mid-shifts were relatively quiet, but Day and Swing shifts could rattle your bones--especially if there was a mission in progress. In those cases it was a tense and stress-filled work evironnmet that demanded a safety valve. Taipei was the perfect safety valve. In addition, we had a Chow Hall staff that did their very best day-in and day-out to provide the kinds of meals that helped us relax and enjoy life on base. Holiday meals especially were non-pareil to anywhere else in the Air Force. This was proven time and again with the presentation of the Hennesey Award, given to the best Chow Hall in the theater. The printed Christmas Day meal menu shown below was typical of Holiday meals, but more than that, dining fare throughout the year was incomparable. The 6987th Chow Hall was well known at other U. S. Military units in the area and quite often Officer personnel would risk the drive up the winding mountain road to sample the delights of the Linkou Chow Hall. Terry Ricchiardi provided a copy of the 1967 Christmas Day menu. Thank you Terry for sharing your keepsake. You know it had to be good when someone saves a menu of a meal served 50-years ago.
Marty is a WWII Navy veteran and a former Border Patrol Agent prior to returning to military service with the Air Force. Since retiring, Marty has written and published four books, one of which, The Fungido Journals, gives varied accounts of a fictitious Provost Marshal named Fungido. It is apparently an autobiographical account of some of the situations Fungido encountered as Provost Marshal over a long career in the Air Force. I have excerpted two accounts from The Fungido Journals which ocurred at "Gao Shang Air Station", a ficitonal Air Force intstallation. You may note that Gao Shang A. S. bears an uncanny resemblance to Linkou Air Station. These accounts may or may not be representative of Marty's work as Linkou's "Sheriff."
Excerpted from The Fugido Journals © 2009, with permission of the author, Martin Sandy Doria
It is 10:00 a. m. at the Provost Marshal's office at Gao Shang. Fungido is busy shuffling through papers that have piled into his basket. These include reports due, correspondence needing replies and delinquency reports from the Navy Provost Marshal concerning personnel of Gao Shang. Each paper arouses another gradation of apprehension for Fungido as he prioritizes his work.
The phone rings and it is the Base Commander's assistant. He tells Fungido the Commander wants to see him in his office immediately. Fungido thinks, "Oh, Oh!" as he climbs aboard his bike to ride to headquarters. Every time the "Old Man" calls it means trouble for Fungido. Mostly, picayune trivia with no apparent solutions--he arrives at the Colonel's office and reports in to him. The Colonel appears disheveled, hung over and with his stocking feet up on the desk.
"Sit down Fungido; I have a problem I need for you to look into."
"Yes sir and what might that be?"
"I have learned that someone is writing nasty things about me in the rest room in the base Airmen's Club. I want you to go down there and look into it. First of all tell me what they are saying and find out who is doing it. Take fingerprints if you have to." Fungido suppresses a giggle but leaps to his feet, "Yes Sir I'll get right on it."
"And oh yes Fungido, come right back here and let me know what they have written on the walls."
Fungido climbs on his bike again and giggles uncontrollably as he proceeds to the Airmen's Club. Once there, he enters the restroom and finds the offending text on a toilet stall. He carefully copies the material word for word in his notebook. Fungido's modus operandi in Air Police work was not to buck the B. S. unless you had to, but let it run its natural course to the usual ridiculous conclusion.
After gathering the material in question, Fungido returns to the Colonel's office where he is ushered back in immediately. "Well Fungido what are they saying about me?"
"Sir, are you sure you want to hear this?"
"Yes yes get on with it."
Fungido retrieves his notebook from his shirt pocket and leafs through the pages. "Ah yes, here it is...are you sure you want to hear this?"
"Dammit Fungido yes, now get on with it!"
"Okay, here it is: 'Colonel Blinker is a prick'; 'Colonel Blinker is a bastard'; 'Colonel Blinker eats shit'; 'Colonel Blinker sniffs bike seats'; Go home Colonel Blinker'; 'Colonel Blinker is a shit-faced Son of a bitch!'"
"STOP IT Fungido! I don't want to hear any more. I want you to find the little Son of a Bitch who wrote that and I am going to hang his dirty little ass as high as I can get it!"
"Yes Sir!" Fungido leaves the headquarters building in high spirits fully intending to place this investigation so far on the back burner it will have to be uncovered by archaeologists, in a later generation.
Fungido is the recipient of every general order issued on base including orders sending men back to the States for discharge. As he sifts through the orders, a month or so after the toilet wall caper, he finds those of an Airman who had been a trouble maker on base. The man was sent home for discharge and had departed the base some days ago. Fungido takes a copy of the orders and proceeds on his bike to the Colonel's office. Again he is ushered in finding the Colonel at his usually unkempt array. "Yes Fungido what is it?"
"Well sir I have solved the case of the "vulgarian" slandering you on the toilet wall at the Base Airmen's club."
"Oh good work Fungido, who is it so we can draw up some court martial papers!"
"Well sir I'm afraid we can't do that. This kid has been sent home for discharge."
"WHAT, can't we have him extradited!??"
"Oh no sir. This is only a misdemeanor offense and besides he is now a civilian."
The Colonel is stunned into silence and Fungido pats himself on the back for another job well done.
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Marty Doria, in US Navy--1945 and Border Patrol--1951
At Gao Shang Air Station, one of the air base squadron commanders was a Captain Albert Shingles. None of the men liked Shingles due to his martinet approach to military duties. He could be be compared to the Frank Burns character in the M*A*S*H television series.
Nevertheless, a goat was procured from the indigenous farm community by a few friends of Shingles. They nicknamed the goat Albert as their token of ingratiation to Shingles
Albert the goat had his own little hut constructed by the base maintenance crew and he was located at a prominent point not far from the base main gate. Some of the men would visit Albert and feed him left over vegetables from the mess hall or dining hall as the USAF euphemized the term.
Fungido's Pass and Identification section even prepared an Identification Badge for Albert, complete with hoof print and picture. Albert wore his ID with a high degree of unconcern as he munched the day long on goodies offered by visiting personnel.
One morning, Sergeant Mullins hurried into Fungido's office. "Sir, we have a murder on our hands!"
"Oh No Sgt. Mullins. Who is the victim and do we have the perpetrator in hand?"
"No sir. There are no clues but the victim is Albert the goat mascot. Someone cut his throat during the night."
Fungido and Mullins conjectured that the "Albert the Goat" murder was a symbolic revenge for some of Shingles' activities. The mystery was never solved and it was unfortunate the killer escaped since there was no provision in the Uniform Code of Military Justice for livestock slaughter. Nevertheless, it remained a blot on Fungido's Provost Marshal record.
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Oh Lord, Yogi.
You don't remember the goat thing because it happened after you left. The bunch who put on plays around the area (I think we were called the "Linkou Players") did a fun version of Teahouse of the August Moon sometime in early '64, as I remember (memory is pretty dim.)
As part of the play, we bought a baby goat and had it on stage with us. The goat didn't have a big part in the play, but taking care of him was a full-time job for our stage manager. The goat was nicknamed "Herbie", and he was a cute little black rascal. However, as will happen with baby goats, he grew quite a bit during the run of the play and, during one of of our last performances, he managed to come up behind someone who was on hands and knees working on stage props and did what goats do whenever they have new horns and see available targets. The lady who was working on the props got knocked into the props, while little Herbie went hopping around and challenging all the rest of us until we finally outnumbered him enough to get him under control. I'm not sure if this is the same story Captain Doria would tell about Herbie, but it's one I particularly remember. The prop lady had a great sense of humor and we all had a great laugh, by the way.
John Norlin, Houston, TX - September, 1961 to September, 1964 & September, 1967 to September, 1969
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It was a busy morning at the Air Police office on Linkou. The Chinese interpreter named Henry comes to the door and advises me that a Mamasan and her daughter needed to speak with me immediately. I asked them to come in and learned the daughter was 9 months pregnant and soon ready to deliver.
The Mamasan chattered on and on when Henry told me that she was complaining that one of our airmen was the father of the soon to be born baby. Moreover, they needed money for the delivery and child support issues. I asked for the airman's identity and had him come to the office from the Operations section. His name was SSgt "X", a cool African-American NCO. He readily admitted that indeed he was the soon to be father of the baby.
I asked the Mamasan what she was expecting from SSgt "X", and she named an enormous amount of NT (Nationalist China Dollars about .40 cents to our dollar then). I was trying my best to give the NCO a break and at the same time help the women out. I told her she could ask me for the moon and I could not give her that but if she asked for a reasonable amount the Sgt could afford I could help her out. Soon we agreed on a price the Sgt could pay. He came up with the money and all felt they were fairly treated.
About 10 months later around the Christmas Season, Henry comes to my door, a quizzical look on his face. He advises the same Mamasan was there with the same daughter who was newly pregnant. Mamasan chattered on and on, poor thing, and told that SSgt "X" was again the father. Sgt "X" was once more summoned from Ops and on arrival was told of Mamasan's accusation.
His reply resounds in my memory clearly and the eloquence was timely for the season. "Suh, you tells her Santa Claus done come once this year, he ain't gonna come again." He presented factual data that the daughter was seeing multiple airmen from Ops, any of whom could be daddy. The poor Mamasan left with daughter and only God knows the outcome of that situation.
Meanwhile, I never saw SSgt "X" again nor that same Mamasan. Case really closed.
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It's an early morning at the Air Police office on Linkou Air Station around 1964. Henry, the indigenous office-type, comes to my door. "Sir, a Name and rank withheld (Narw) is requesting to see you." "Okay, Henry, please send him in."
An ashen figure enters and is invited to sit down. "Hello Narw, what brings you here today?" "Is it safe to talk here?", he asks. I think, oh-oh, and then reply, "Of course it is safe to talk here. What's on your mind?"
"Well, last night as I was driving home to the base, I...I...I..."
Yes, yes, you what?" Narw blurts out, "I hit a water buffalo!" "You did what?" "Yes," he confesses, "I hit a water buffalo." "Did you kill the $#@*&& thing?"
"I am not sure. I had a beer or two and did not want to stop." "Are you sure it was a water buffalo and not a person?"
"Please!!!, I was not drunk and I know the horns broke my windshield."
I lay my head on my desk and plead, "Dear Lord, tell me what to do here." No apparent answer comes to me, so I ask Narw, "Where did this happen?"
He responds, "Just near Linkou Village." I ask, "Have you told anyone else about this?" He assures me, "No. You are the first and only one."
I think this over and realize that if I go into Linkou Village looking for the owner of a water buffalo struck by a drunken American, I wil find at least twelve victims looking for a payoff. I tell Narw, "Okay. You have done your duty and reported it to a responsible authority. Now keep your mouth shut and I will handle this matter." (Meaning: stick it far away on the back burner and see what develops from a civilian complaint.)
Weeks pass, and no complaint is made from the civilian community, so evidentally the buffalo was okay. Once again Narw comes to my office. "What is it this time, Narw?"
"I was just wondering if you would sign this claim report to get my windshield repaired by my insurance company?"
"Are you out of your &^%$#**&^ mind? Such a claim acknowledges an accident that was not properly processed through military channels and both of our asses will fry!! You can go ahead and eat this cost as a lesson not to drink and drive!!" Case Closed.
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Henry, the office-type, calls out. "The phone is for you Captain D."
"Doria, this is Lt. Poyner (Taipei Navy Provost Marshal.) You spooks have really done it this time!"
"What's going on, Fred?"
"You need to get your Air Force ass down here quick. There is a delegation of Chinat cops that want to talk with you."
"Okay, I'm on my way."
When I arrive at the Provost Marshal shop in Taipei, Poyner introduces me to about six Chinese Foreign Affairs Police (FAPS). We exchange customary Asian pleasantries and afterwards they ask me why I am harboring a Communist spy on Linkou. I protest that no such thing was true and asked why they arrived at such an opinion.
The head Copper signaled to an underling, who produced a section of a wooden panel that had been sawed from a bigger piece. I was asked to examine it and found words written in Chinese. I apologized that I could not read Chinese. They translated for me and it read: "Chiang Kai Shek must go now Mao Tse Tung coming soon" I protested that this was not a true state of affairs and asked what did that have to do with Linkou. They advised that the wood section was sawed out of a partition between urinals at the downtown Linkou Club, so it had to be one of our Airmen. Thererfore, why was I harboring a Communist on Linkou? Ahhhhh! The craphouse caper again!!
I pointed out that there were several indigenous persons working at the Club so it could have been any one of them. Besides, we screen Linkou personnel very carefully to prevent Communists from coming onto the Island. I promised to look over our rosters to assure my facts were straight. Then I added it is also very possible that this whole thing is a prank (which I was sure it was, and I should have bitten my tongue.) They worried the concept of prank to death but I finally resolved the matter, leaving them in suspicion, and returned to base. As soon as I got in my office, the base Exec is on the phone. "The Commander wants to see you immediately."
I report in to him and he starts. "Mario (he believed that since I was of Italian heritage, I should be a Mario rather than a Marty or Martin), what were you doing downtown?" I briefed him on the whole affair (he had a dread of crap house graffiti) but told him the matter was resolved. He mumbled, "You need to watch yourself down there Mario, that they don't box you in." It was his customary caution that was never quite explained.
Just another normal day at Linkou thanks to those little $#&^@$ at Ops.
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Many of us serving on Linkou did not realize the rivalry and hostility prevalent amongst the indigenous police forces. We have some of that in the U. S. between Federal, State, and Local agencies, but Linkou was over the top in that regard.
Most of you don't know, but we had a one-hundred-plus complement of indigenous military police assigned to the USAF Air Police forces on Linkou. Their mission was to protect and guard our antenna field which was quite extensive, so you folks could do your work. There was usually a Captain in charge who paid courtesy calls to my office almost weekly. Sometimes, often at the last minute, I was invited to their Mess and once was served "fragrant meat", but that's another story...woof woof (smile).
One day Henry, the liaison indigenous "know all/see all", came to my office and told me that Captain L., our indigenous force commander, was being held captive at a nearby indigenous Army cantonment. He told that they were brutalizing the Captain and perhaps someone needed to intervene. Of Course this was hard for me to understand friendly forces besetting one another, but look at our own Army/Navy game (another smile).
I never understood how Henry came about his tidbits of information, but always suspected he was a planted Intelligence Agent serving in a somewhat menial capacity (as was I.) Anyway, I hurried to the Army Cantonment and presented myself at their Main Gate. I told the guard to let me in whereby he placed a fixed bayonet at my throat and thrust me back (was that a No?) With no other alternative, I stood there for twenty minutes and shouted at the top of my lungs, "Captain L, come out of there now." Finally, Captain L. emerged towards the gate, his uniform somewhat disheveled and his face a mass of bruises. I told him I wanted him to come with me immediately, but he showed great fear and told me to leave without him. Despite my insistence, he would not leave.
I returned to my office and had Henry contact General X, Commander of all indigenous MPs. I had met the General personally and recently had gifted him with a Cherry Herring. I asked Henry to explain my concerns about the situation and my apprehension about Captain L's safety.
After the call was completed, I returned to the cantonment and waited nearby. Soon, two truckloads of indigenous MPs, armed to the teeth, drove up and swarmed into the cantonment. Our Captain L was rescued and I heard no shots fired. I think he was glad he knew me.
All in all, a rather peaceful day for me on Linkou.
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It's a midday in 1960ish Linkou. I am summoned to the phone by the Exec. "Doria, the Commander would like to see you as soon as possible." "Okay, I'm on the way."
When I report in to his office, the Commander puts me at ease and beckons me to be seated. "Mario (always with the Italian stereotype), I've been talking with Captain 'X', the Squadron Commander, and we agree that the Officers on Linkou are a lax group who has disregarded military discipline."
"Sir, I don't seem to follow you here. They all appear to do their jobs and observe all the customs such as saluting, using 'sirs' appropriately, and other protocols. In addition, the ones who are unaccompanied and live on base see after the troops here and provide us with a nice, built-in military atmosphere while the rest of us are all off base. The married Officers who live off base have a tedious ride up and down the mountain every day and I personally associate with most of them and find them to be top notch."
"No Mario, Captain 'X' is resolute on this matter and I aim to take action to toughen things up a bit." "What do you intend to do Sir?", I ask.
"Well to start off, Mario. I will hold a standby inspection every Saturday morning right outside of the Officer's club."
"Sir. you mean to have all the guys come back up here on Saturday every week?"
"Exactly, and it should stiffen up some spines on this base...just like old times."
I finalize my protests as the monitor of military discipline and see it all as an exercise in futility. The news is greeted with howls from the Officers. My main concern is hoping no one thinks it is my &^%$#@ idea.
Saturday comes along and we all arrive at the club about a half-hour prior to inspection time. I am sitting at a table with a few of the guys when in walks the Commander. Everyone leaves my table and he comes over to sit with me. I shudder that everyone is going to think I dreamed up this debacle. "Good Morning, Mario. Are you ready for my inspection?"
"Always ready, Sir. That is my M. O."
"What is an 'M. O.', Mario?"
"Sir, M. O. stands for modus operandi or a method of proceeding. It is a criminological term."
"I like that, Mario. I think I'll use it."
As the Commander sits at my table, I begin to check out his uniform. He has considerable medals on his 1505s (sic) but I notice that both flaps on his shirt pockets are unbuttoned. "Sir pardon me, but you are out of uniform and not a good idea to inspect the officer's corp that way."
I point to his shirt pockets and he panics as he reaches to button them, but discovers he has no *&^$%$ buttons on his shirt. I purr, "Sir, the troops will surelly notice that you have no buttons."
"*&&%$#@, Mario, I'll be right back!"
He rushes out of the club and heads toward his office. He returns after a while, late for his appointed inspection time. He comes to my table with some off-color buttons fastened to the flaps of his shirt pockets with ordinary office paper clips. The troops form up outside and he hurriedly paces through our ranks.
It was the very last Saturday inspection for the lax Officers at Linkou.
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Shu Linkou Air Station was a compact base with most facilities within walking distance. The exception was the extensive attenna farm that was situated outside of the gated confines of the base.
A bicycle titled "Provost Marshal" was designated for my private use as I made the rounds and visits during each day. The trouble with that was when I parked it at "x" location, some little &^%$#@ would steal it and abandon it at a "y" locaton some distance away. I would send the cops' patrol wagon to search and retrieve it for me and this was an almost regular exercise. It rather amused me and it became sort of a game so I never chain-locked the bike to spoil the contest.
Anyway, I was reporting in to the Commander on a grave issue. "Mario," says the Commander, "I have started an area beautification program for Linkou."
"Yes sir, and what does that entail?"
"There is a walkway between the Airmen's Club and the Dining Hall."
"Yes sir, I am familiar with that area and how does this need my attention?"
"I have planted rows of trees along that walkway to give it a promenade effect."
"Okay sir, but I don't follow you on my role here."
"Your role is to find the sons-of-bitches who have been breaking the saplings in half every evening for the past three days. We replant and they break them in half! I want you to go out there and take finger prints off the barks if you have to, but I want it stopped. Do you understand? I want it stopped!"
I stifle a giggle but salute and utter, "I'm on it sir!" Later, I get the cops to "volunteer" for a stake out on a couple of the barracks roofs to see if we can catch the *&&^%$# tree snapper culprit. Of course there is no success and I am once more summoned to the Commander's office to give an updated report.
"Well Mario," the Commander begins, "what have you to report on my trees?"
I bite my lip and reply, "Sir we need more men for a job this size. I need at least fifteen extra troops to place on the barracks roofs in order to catch the perpetrator(s) in the act."
"Fifteen men? We can't do that Mario. It will cripple our mission here."
"Yes sir, but there are your trees to save."
"Never mind Mario. Just forget the whole *&^%$ thing!"
"Yes sir!" I salute and I'm out, stifling a huge grin as I go looking for my stolen *&^%$# bike. Case closed on the *&^%$# tree snapper and the area beautification program.
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The Taipei Navy Provost Marshal was on the phone. "Doria, do you spooks have a Major "X" up there?"
"Yes we do, Fred. He is one of our Officers."
"Well he is in big trouble and I want to know if you want this through channels or to handle it yourself?"
I considered Major "X" a loner type of officer and it was hard to imagine him in any serious trouble. "If it's okay with you Fred, I'll see to it and set things right whatever it is."
"It involves a Chinese National so I'll have him sent up to you, but I don't want to hear any more about it so please take care of it."
"Okay Fred, I accept jurisdiction and if you don't hear from me, it is taken care of."
Later with the indigenous office-type Henry, acting as interpreter, Mr. "Z", the Chinese National, is ushered into my office. Physically, Mr. "Z" was slight of build, about 5' 4", and weighed about 114 pounds or so. "Hello, Mr. "Z", I am sorry you have had trouble with a member of LinKou Air Station. Would you like some coffee? Mr. "Z" accepted a sweetened coffee and seemed to relax a bit.
"Now please tell me sir, how I may be of service to you?" While Henry interpreted, Mr. "Z" told of being assaulted by Major "X." I asked what instigated Major "X's" actions and Mr. "Z" advised that the Major's eight year old son was climbing on the fence at Mr. "Z's" home, so Mr. "Z" chased him away.
He denied putting his hands on the boy but shortly afterward, the Major came to his home, called him out and began to pummel him about the face and head. He went on to complain that two of his teeth were knocked out adding that, because of the loss of teeth, he could not eat and had lost several pounds from his slight frame. He opened his mouth wide and pointed to the empty spaces where the teeth had been.
I asked what he expected from me in the situation. He stated that he wanted payment for dental work. I agreed that was reasonable. Then he added that he wanted reparation per pound for the twelve pounds he had lost. Due to his slight size and diet, I felt this was quite an unusual but a reasonable request.
I called Major "X" and asked him to come to my office. "What to do the 'Apes' want with me?", he asked in an unfriendly tone. I advised him of the complaint against him and that I needed him to come to my office ASAP. When he arrived, he lumbered in and scowled at Mr. "Z." Mr. "Z" cowered, but I reassured him of his safety.
Major "X" was a big, pudgy man. The kind who, in schoolyard years, would have pushed smaller kids around. When I told him of Mr. "Z's" complaint, he snarled, "If he was in my country he would have gotten worse than that."
I calmly responded, "Sir, if this was in your country, you would be in jail right now facing charges of assault and battery, followed by a civil suit for damages. You people forget that we are guests here, not conquering Occupation Forces."
I asked Mr. "Z" what he felt was a fair amount to cover his loss and pain. His response amazed me because, in U. S. Dollars, it was quite modest. Nevertheless, Major "X" snarled, "Nobody shoves my kid around. I am not going to pay a red cent. You, Cap-tin (slurred and extended to emphasize our difference in rank), are a *&^%$#$ stooge for these people and you will not collect anything from me."
"I am very pleased to hear your decision, Major. I will find money from some slush fund to pay Mr. "Z" (the Base Theater kept a profit from popcorn sales and it was made a slush fund, available for such emergencies.) Afterwards, you and I will go to the Commander's office for your Article 15 or Summary Court, whatever seems appropriate for the occasion."
The Major glared at me for intimidation purposes but he knew the prospect of an Article 15 or a Summary Court would be death for a career officer. Finally, he grudgingly agreed to pay Mr. "Z" and dug into his pocket for the modest amount requested. He left in a measured huff, indicating that he would not forget me for this.
I had Mr. "Z" sign a release, apologized for the Major's actions, and thanked him for his cooperation to see that justice was done.
The Major never spoke to me again nor did he do anything to "get even." He left the island some time ater.
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Growing up in south Florida, having to endure an occasional hurricane was normal. No different, I suppose from those of you that grew up in California having to deal with occasional wild fires or earth tremors, or perhaps the guys from the midwest experiencing tornados or the Spring flooding of the river basins. It was all a part of life. Similarly, typhoons seemed to be a requirement of our tour experience in Taiwan. To me, the storms in Taiwan seemed to be different. For one thing, there seemed to be so many of these storms swirling around in the Pacific, you couldn't help but notice them. Maybe it was the damage left in the wake of the storms--it seemed to be more severe. Maybe construction standards were not as stringent in Taiwan as they were in Florida where I grew up. Or perhaps since I was no longer a kid I became more aware of the damage. Whatever the case, I guess all of us who served in Taiwan experienced a typhoon or two. I would occasionally joke that, in Taiwan, there was a law that at least one typhoon must hit the island every fifteen months. In my case, I went through two typhoons in 30 months in Taiwan (1961 and 1962), with a third one hitting two months after I departed. Many of us that lived "on the hill" were not able to get off base to see or photograph the devastation in Taipei. Some of our people lived downtown and were able to get pictures of some of the ravaged areas to share with the rest of us. Here are some recollections and photos of of those typhoon times. If you have a typhoon story or two or some photos that you would like to share, feel free to do so.
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I recall that we had warning of the impending typhoon and moved everything that we could into the barracks. All the barracks were steel buildings and well anchored with steel cable secured to huge chunks of concrete buried in the ground. So was our great chow hall and it remained open. We were as ready as could be.
When the full fury hit, we were all safely sequestered but in time grew impatient. We could move around by leaning into the wind and visit the chow hall and the day room. I was in the day room listening to someone play the piano when a loud crash shook the building. One entire end of the building, which housed the offices, was blown away and we decided that it might be a good idea to return to the barracks.
One large antenna was torn from its foundation and the steel cables which had secured it, was lifted into the air and driven inverted into the Ops building. Fortunately, it hit in the walkway between the guard house and the Ops area. During shift changes, we had to weave our way around the twisted steel to get in or out.
The typhoon lasted a long time but in the end we fared pretty well, losing part of the day room and the entire bowling alley. Taipei suffered much damage as did most of Taiwan. I think it was one of the strongest typhoons ever.
Edward S. White, Decatur, GA - February, 1961 - May, 1962
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I think it was in early '63 (could have been '62), when our house in American Village (a gated group of about 10 homes for GIs) was flooded We had about 18 inches of real nasty water on the ground floor. My stereo equipment and other stuff was mostly elevated onto the dining room table or upstairs. Water even came through the toilet and bathtub drains. The Landlord sent a crew to help clean up the mess afterwards. I don't remember what happened to my car, but it was okay. I must have left it on the Hill. I remember that the BX was flooded and had a great sale afterwards.
Monte Pettit, Bellvue, NE - August, 1962 - August, 1964
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There was a major typhoon to affect Linkou in the late Summer of 1962. It took part of the roof off the bowling alley. Center winds were clocked at 140 mph and winds on post were measured at 120 mph. I remember I had one of those take-apart Turkish wedding rings at the time (a knock-off done in Taipei), and I could not see it on my hand, it was so dark. I remember that very specifically. I think I was coming off a swing shift, trying to get back to my barracks. We had to lock down all classified material in case of wind damage to the Ops building. Almost no intercept at all that night. I believe that this was September, 1962, but I could be off on the date. I do remember wind damage to the bowling alley, though.
My God, man, that was 50 years ago. I remember this as a major weather event during my tour, so it wasn't 1963 (though there might have been another one that year.)
Doug Ort, Watertown, NY - November, 1961 - February, 1963
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Front and back of IGCC Scorecard (courtesy of Dave Myers)
Probably only the golfers out there will truly appreciate this story.
In 1965, one of the many typhoons that brushed the western Pacific off of Taiwan, passed just off of the eastern coast. Just a lot of wind, some rain, no real damage to speak of, except to the pride of one of the MAAG's "finest golfers."
At the time, I was playing on Linkou's golf team and our match with MAAG had to be rescheduled to the day after the storm had passed. We were playing at the nearby International Golf & Country Club. Conditions were poor, cloudy, wet fairways, greens, wind still blowing. Since the course had recently opened, the fairway was ungodly looooonnnnnggggg.
The match was going poorly for everyone as could be expected. On a shotgun start, we teed off on the back nine. The first five holes went from 435 to 609 yards. Finally we made it to #15, which was a par 3, 180 yards, facing into the gale. I teed off first and hit a 3 iron low down the fairway, bouncing most of the way short of the green. My counterpart from MAAG, after he stopped snickering, picked out a wood, probably a 3 wood, and said, "Watch this." With a great swing, he launched the ball up into the air (remember into the wind.) Well his shot went up, kept on going up, then seemed to stop in mid-air, actually probably did a loop in the faster winds aloft, and headed back at the tee.
My partner hollered "fore" as the ball bounced in front of the tee and rolled off the back. It was beautiful. The real beauty was that my counterpart wasn't worth a damn for the next three holes. In fifty years of walking the fairways, losing countless balls to the golf gods, other than bouncing the ball off a nearby tree or two, I have never seen a well hit ball come back to the tee.
The match? Oh we lost but it sure didn't matter. That dude had given me a lifetime of memory.
Having IGCC nearby was a great benefit with free passes and a daily bus to and from the course.
Dave Myers, Mechanicsville, VA - March, 1965 - May, 1966
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Ed Bohannon, Bluffton, SC - 1963 to 1965
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LONG BREAKS & NIGHTLIFE
We certainly looked forward to those long breaks lasting anywhere from 4 to 6 days, depending on our particular work schedule. Work was tedious most of the time especially on the mid-shifts but on the day shifts, we earned our keep. Work was stressful and we needed those breaks. The city of Taipei held out its alluring hand to all American GI's and we obligingly accepted. Ed Maloney, during his tour in 1961 to 1962, collected the cards displayed below describing some of the most popular "rest and relaxation" venues that Taipei had to offer. Please note the card for Tzuey Bar Shien. Seven years earlier, in 1955, Al HIgh paid them a visit and picked up one of their cards (displayed in his photo album.) I am convinced that, for this particular establishment to have lasted so many years, the comfortable furnishings they advertised must have been the 'draw' for many of us from Linkou. Many of you will remember these places and in some cases seemingly spent as much time in these establishments as we did on the hill.
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It was the early 1970's and many of the AFSC vacancies that had previously been filled by men, were now being filled by women. Judy Tabler Duer, was among the first female Chinese Linguists to draw an assignment to Linkou. She attended the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, California, graduating in 1974.
Judy was kind enough to share her experience being among the first female linguists at Linkou:
I went to DLI Monterey 1973-74...I was one of the first female Chinese linguist at Shu LinKou, not the first. I was in the first class to include women, and several of us arrived in Taiwan at the same time.
Being among the first women didn't make us popular on the job site at first. I remember particularly, Dog Flight complaining that they wouldn't be able to drop their pants on mids anymore! They also seemed to go out of their way to use "salty" language in front of us. I definitely learned to be unshockable, a good trick for a naive young girl from Oklahoma which has served me well throughout my life! I also remember my Flight Commander telling me he didn't think I could type with long fingernails (I could). After we'd been there for a while though, things calmed down and I made lots of friends among the guys. I do believe I was the first female to graduate from the rack to transcribing. The backhand compliment I remember was that I wasn't like other women--I was good!
Judy Tabler Duer, Georgetown, TX - 1974 - 75
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Some of you folks from Linkou who were linguists had a better grasp on the asian concept of "Face" than I did. In my interactions with officials, it was necessary to keep that aspect of character in mind.
I have not the verbal skills to define the concept in English but the closest I can come to it is a very personal ideation of self honor and social stature. It was an extreme no no to cause a "Celestial" to lose face.
Whenever there was an accident or incident between us and them, the aspect of face was an important consideration from the mediatory process. Accordingly, I kept it in mind whilst managing the imbroglios in which we persisted while serving there.
One day, as I was driving my personal vehicle to the mountain, while in that last village before going up the hill, I was in a long line of traffic. Both lanes were bumper-to- bumper with the usual pedestrians and other conveyances on the roadside demanding extreme caution. Suddenly, in the oncoming lane a young Chinese man leaned his motorcycle out and passed the truck in front of him. In that maneuver, he collided head on with my vehicle. I saw his face smash right into my windshield as he flew to the ground.
I immediately stopped which was not too hard at 10 MPH, and found him on the road unconscious, his left leg quivering, indicating the possibility that I had bought one. Fortunately, he arose and wanted to leave but knowing better, I insisted on summoning the FAPs (Foreighn Affairs Police.) On my insistence they issued him a citation and I charged him with about 20 bucks worth of damage, although there was none. My tactic was that as a law enforcement official, he had caused me to "lose face" by involving me in an accident.
Later on, I was to meet with him at the Provost Marshal's office in Taipei where there was a group of Chinese police types gathered. It was an official deal to him paying me the damages to close the case.
When he paid the money in NTs, he lamented that he was supporting his elderly mother. Regardless, I insisted on an apology for his causing my "loss of face." He did apologize and then passed me the money. I counted it out and then told him I would keep only one NT as a symbol of his responsibility and returned the rest of it to him for his honorable mother.
The Chinese cops applauded as though I just scored a touchdown. It is the only instance in my experience in Taiwan where a Chinese National paid an American for his "loss of face."
Martin Sandy Doria, Pensacola, FL - 1962 - 65
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The trip to and from Taipei was always an adventure. The circuitous mountain road with its many switchbacks gave us rapid heartbeats from time to time, especially when the narrow mountain road was cluttered with foot and bicycle traffic. Closer in to Taipei, I sometimes compared the trip to shooting whitewater rapids--frenetic, nail biting, with what seemed to be constant close calls in colliding with bicyclists, pedicabs, other autos and buses as drivers would use their horn, and accellerators (I don't believe they realized they could use their brakes if needed) to navigate the roadways. As someone once said, "the pucker factor" was high. The mountain road itself could be dangerous and there were several occasions during my two tours when a car would plumment over the side (no guard rails in those days) into deep ravines resulting in fatalities. One such night a group from Linkou went over the side and survived the crash. Luther Deese sent the following account in poetic form to share with you. The author is not known for certain, although we believe it was Larry Eshleman. If any of you can give proper and certain attribution to the poem's author, please let me know.
THE BALLAD OF THE LINKOU MOUNTAIN WRECK
The night was clear, no moon but stars twinkled near and far
Photos provided by Harold Grubb (L) and Jim Bohn (R)
We were frozen with fright but fate smiled on us that night, the car had landed ass end down
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I was the G. I. who was heading home from a late swing shift--probably 10 of 2 or so, when I traversed Linkou Village in time to see some guy jump out of the woods at the bottom end of Linkou Village and started running up the road toward the base. We assumed he was stoned and went on down the hill to a point overlooking a cliff where some locals were milling around, looking over the edge.
I stopped and asked (in Chinese of course) what happened and they said a car went over. I asked if it was a taxi and they said no, it was a bigger, American Car. I left Jim and Barry with the Chinese and headed back up the hill and encountered the guy who had jumped out of the woods earlier, stopped and offered to take him to the base--he picked me up (adrenalin must have been pumping as I weighed about 225 at the time) and yelled, "Why didn't you stop?" I told him I thought he was drunk and he said that there were still 3 down in the ravine. He headed back down and I rushed to the base. I reported in at the gate, a rescue team was organized. The driver and occupants were brought back up--two or three were ambulatory, and one on a stretcher. I was amazed that they weren't all killed. I never gave my name or looked for any recognition. I was just glad the guys were OK.
Had it not been for Klinger and Burrell's stupid 2:00 a. m curfew, it would never have happened. I have a photo of the wrecked car somehere--will post it later when I locate it.
Luther Deese, Ocala, FL - 1960 - 1961 and 1962 - 1964
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Once again, it shakes loose a memory from Taiwan. A young NCO from Linkou had a car there [equipped with a horn ring, common in those 1950's models.] Unfortunately, one night he had too much to drink and ran his car into a tree. Back then seat belts were not known nor were air bags so he catapulted against the steering wheel and that metal horn ring snapped, piercing his carotid artery. Realizing his dilemma, he held onto the artery and hailed a cab. The driver took him to the Chinese hospital where they refused him treatment, sending the cab back to the Navy dispensary in Taipei. He was dead on arrival there. I was beside myself with grief and anger.
The next day around 11 a. m. our main gate called me advising the cab driver was there demanding money to clean the blood out of his cab. I jacked a shell in the .45 held in my desk and snarled to the gate guard: "tell that son of a bitch if he is still there when I get there I'm goanna put a bullet in his f..king head!" Of course the poor bugger sped off much to both of our luck. In retrospect, the guy had a legitimate claim since he did his best for our Airman. He just picked a bad time and mood for one, each grumpy USAF Captain.
That .45 Colt 1911 automatic in my desk had more shells injected to the chamber than I like to remember but thank God I never shot anyone. When I was ready to leave Linkou, the Base Commander, Lt. Colonel observed: "Marty, we need to have you reconditioned like we do K-9's before we send you back Stateside."
Martin Sandy Doria, Pensacola, FL - 1962 - 1965
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There were other wrecks on Linkou Mountain Road. One morning on the bus from Tien Mou to Linkou, probably 1964, as we were almost to the top of the hill, there was the results of an accident with some vehicles gathered about including APs.
I dismounted the bus and approached the accident site. On its side after a roll over was a Volkswagen Beetle. I learned there were three NCO's aboard, two of whom had been killed, the other on the way to the Navy hospital in Taipei.
It seemed a truck driven by a Chinese National came barreling down the Mountain Road and smashed the VW over a slight precipice. It was a grimly sad event and later afer a few weeks, I awaited the Chinese police version of the accident. True to form, their report read that the truck driver was not at fault. It stated that since the VW was operated by an American with American passengers, they were probably laughing and smiling causing them not to pay attention to the road.
On my word of honor, I swear that is true and is testimony why I did not enjoy my Taiwan assignment as many others have. It also gives affirmation to the sobriquet given to me by certain Linkou officers of that time, i. e., "Grouch."
Martin Sandy Doria, Pensacola, FL - 1962 - 1965
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I was involved in more accidents during my 28 months in Taiwan than in all of my 71+ laps around the sun.....
* Was driving up from Taipei using the back road, which ran between two rice paddies. Only other traffic was a peasant on a bicycle. Just as I pulled over into the on-coming lane to pass him, he decided to turn left. I clipped him with my right front fender, and he went down
Luckily, a Chinese cop and the Lin Kou shuttle arrived about the same time, so a 203 translated for me (I knew they were good for something.) As the peasant writhed on the ground in a performance of agony worthy of an Oscar, the cop told me that a few bucks would cause miraculous healing. I escorted the cop to the front of my car. While the bicycle, which had to have been made of cast iron, showed no signs of damage, the right front fender and headlight of my French import were destroyed. The cop told me to leave.
* Was driving through downtown when I heard a siren. I pulled over behind a stopped city bus. The bus backed up. Another fender/headlight gone.
*I Was eating breakfast in the mess hall when an E-7 approached me to tell me he had backed into my car. Another fender/headlight gone.
* Was stopped in front of the NCO club to drop off a friend. He opened the door to step out but continued to sit and talk. In my rearview, I observed an approaching bicycle. It was like the scene in "Lawrence of Arabia," where Lawrence and his guide are watching a speck on the horizon grow ever closer. Seconds later the cyclist slammed into the open door, breaking the catch that stopped it from going into the fender.
* Was driving from Tien Mou with my younger daughter, when a jeep sped out of the entrance to a Chinese installation and slammed into my right front. The driver had a look of absolute terror and begged me to let him take the car to be fixed. Alas for him, I chose to take it to my dealer instead. I suspect he then disappeared as though he had never existed. Bad luck.
The car, chopped the day I bought it, lasted the entire two years and change. You can say any number of things about the French, but they know how to make cars.
Dave Highlands, St. Petersburg, FL - 1970 - 1972
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Linkou Air Station was a small station located on a mountaintop some 20 - 25 miles northwest of Taipei, near the small village of Linkou. All branches of service were represented, having not only Air Force, but it included a small contingent from the Army Security Agency as well as the Naval Security Group--all tasked with similar missions.
The new 1st Shirt and the New Admin butter bar posted a directive that as we were so small and everyone knew all the Officers, salutes would be rendered to Ofificers regardless of either of us being in or out of uniform. I know..not kosher, but as they both were not allowed in the highly classified Ops area, they did not have much to do.
When they were taking their rounds on base, they passed another "troop" in civilian clothes who did not salute.
The 1st Sgt. proceeded to lecture him for a few minutes in a very loud command voice about his violation of not saluting. Quite a number of us were close enough to observe this spectacle, and awaited the poor troop's demise.
The 1st Sgt., after finishing his dressing down, asked the troop what his name and rank was, to which he replied:
"I am John Doe, and I am a Lt. in the United States Navy."
...Nothing but silence.
The 1st Sgt. took two steps back, saluted, and that was the end of that policy.
Matt Murphy, Balcolyn, NSW, Australia - 1965 - 1967
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TEN TEN DAY
On October 10, 1964, my now deceased wife and I were invited by Chinat Police to a celebration of Double Ten Day. I believe the significance was Chiang Kai Shek's birthday...can't remember. We were seated in a huge reviewing stand where many festal activities took place
In the flow of events, a fly-by of Chinat Air Force F84s or F86s took place. After they passed over, I felt a thin mist of kerosene like substance descend on us. I observed to my wife: "Oh, oh I believe one of those guys bought one." We sat through the remainder of the celebration with no visible signs of anything being amiss.
The next day at the office, our Chinese worker in the Pass and ID section named James told me he had some information for me. I always believed and still do to this day, James was a Chinat Intelligence plant used by them to keep tabs on our doings. He was always up on Chinat affairs and shared parsimoniously what we were allowed to know by him or them.
He advised me that at the ceremony the previous day, one of the fly-over planes hit a water tower. Thus, the kerosene-like mist falling on us. He also told, the flight leader was unceremoniously shot for the mishap.
Aren't you glad the FAA uses different corrective tactics?
Martin Sandy Doria, Pensacola, FL - 1962 - 1965
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Myself and several friends were headed to Kaohsiung in April of 1960--riding in a friend's Jeep. As we traversed a small village somewhere south of Taichung, we noticed that a swath across the center of the place had been wiped out. I asked a local cop what had happened and he said a plane had crashed. I asked what kind of plane and he said it was fighter plane. I asked if perchance it had been an F-86 (which was one of their best fighters at that time.) He said no, it had been an F-100! I had recently seen that we were selling F-100s to the Chinats to match against the MiG-17s that were being deployed to bases on the opposite shore.
I was totally surprised at his candid response knowing how security conscious our hosts normally were; and, I was just a 19-year old kid at the time so I scoured the local papers, English and Chinese, for any news about the crash but never saw a peep about it. I'm sure it happened based on the swath of buildings that were gone from both sides of this main drag--National Hwy No. 1--that stretched from Keelung to Pingtung. I hated to imagine how many unsuspecting people had been killed as their dwellings and businesses were destroyed.
Based on your story, Marty, I hope for the pilot's sake that he went down with his aircraft.
As an aside, I guess I can tell you now that the presence of the new threat from accross the Strait was revealed when we heard the pilots using newer microphones. The MiG-15 pilots used throat mikes which could be a challenge for us headphone wearing Linkou lingies. We welcomed the 17s and later the 19s because their transmissions were much clearer and more understandable, making our job much easier.
Luther Deese, Ocala, FL - 1960 - 1961 & 1962 - 1964
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LIVING OFF BASE
I had an apartment with two other flight members near the Keelung River overlooking the Duck Farm pictures in my album (see Stackhouse Photo Album 2.) When you flushed the toilets, you could go out on the balcony and watch the "floaters" come out the side of the building into a small ditch, which flowed into the local stream that emptied directly into the Keelung River. I remember seeing an article in the Stars & Stripes talking about the Asian Rivers and their pollution, that stated that 75% of Taipei's drinking water came from the Keelung River.
Neil Stackhouse, Wind Gap, PA - 1972 - 1973
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A bunch of us were moved down to the compound behind BX because of the crowded conditions on the hill...I believe that was in 1963. From the Stackhouse photos I could see the improvements in the "barracks." There were "no rooms at the inn" in 1963 on the hill, except for some non-coms that were not married. As a result of the move off base because of crowded conditions at Lin Kou, those of us who were shunted downtown got flooded out in the great flood of that year from the Typhoon.
I came to Taiwan in the middle of 1960 with only the uniform on my back (Greyhound lost the rest for about a year, finding them only when I applied for the insurance money.) As a result of the flood, I essentially left with only one uniform. Must be some kind of omen there.
Ron Kershner, Hagerstown, MD - 1960 - 1963
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It was Thanksgiving Day, 1962. I (at the time a 203 dash two) worked at JOC at Taipei Air Station. Dolores and I lived in Chih Lan Hsin Ts'un, a small Village about ¼ of the way up the Grass Mountain road.
We had invited American civilian guests to have dinner with us. Dolores had been planning the dinner for a week--getting a turkey and all the things we traditionally had for Thanksgiving dinner back home. The evening before, Dolores and Linda, our housekeeper, went over the things that had to be done Thursday morning. I had volunteered to work the 6 a. m. to Noon shift at JOC, and Dolores had the opportunity to sleep in until 8:00 a. m. About 7:00 a. m., or so, I received a frantic phone call from Dolores. She had been abruptly awakened by loud "hacking" noises coming from the kitchen. She jumped up and ran to the kitchen only to find Linda had chopped up all the vegetables for the stuffing and the table, thus getting an early start. She also found that Linda had chopped up the turkey--as Asian cooks are wont to do with poultry. Of course she went ballistic--not in the angry way, in the catastrophic event way. Not wanting to be embarrassed before our friends who had come to enjoy a "traditional TG dinner", I informed Linda she needed to "fix" it if she wanted to still be working for us the following week. To top it all off, my 12 Noon relief, arrived over two hours late; by that time I was somewhat upset (furious???)
Anyway, I arrived home shortly before the guests arrived. Linda had taken needle and thread and sewed all the turkey pieces/parts (legs, thighs, wings, and breast halves) together; the turkey turned out beautifully and actually turned out to be one of the best turkeys we had ever cooked--before or since!
By the way, my erstwhile delinquent relief was someone we all know and love, Joel Aronson--take a bow, Joel. (Sorry, Joel, the Devil made me do it!)
Don Lynch, Merrill, MI - 1956 - 1957 & 1960 - 1963
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Interesting story. There's a mild error issue here. If I was the delinquent relief, I certainly had to travel far. I had left Taiwan mid-June, 1962, and was Honorably Discharged at Travis AFB, California. Thanksgiving, '62, I was living in Washington, DC, and attending Georgetown University. I don't remember returning to Taiwan before April, 2003, when some of us Taiwan Vets were invited by the Nationalist government.
I do remember coming to JOC late one time and Don was very angry. That may have happened in the early part of 1962.
Joel Aronson, Wharton, NJ - 1958 - 1962
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Nancy and I, Bruce and Donna Oms, Jack and Marge Norlin and the Horns.
Nancy and I were the first one's there and recruited the rest. The building was pretty new so I got to design the whole apartment. The 4th floor apartment on the River side was a Holy Temple. VERY quiet most of the time. We got used to the insense smell when the wind was coming off the river; but, during the Holdiays, the music went 24 hours!
There was an E-6 from Linkou who had a "trophy wife" and she told Nan that she just married him because he knew how to make money! He later got caught because he was way too deep into the Black Market and had about $20k out in loans on the Base. The day after he was arrested, she flew out with the clothes on her back. She cleaned out all his Stateside accounts and divorced him. A young A3C and his wife moved in a month later. They were so young. She looked like Jr. High age to us, and was a 'stunner!" Somehow Nan and the other wives didn't connect with her, but we did include them at major get togethers. He was assigned to MAAG in Admin.
There was also a SSgt from the Commissary/PX and his wife, and they were a bit older than us. We got together due to his efforts in arranging the sale and delivery of our refrigerator. We were all amazed when we found out that we lived in the same building. I was working as a Day Lady at the time and it allowed the four of us to get together for dinner quite often.
Did I mention that the building was in the flight path of the Airport? It was about two blocks behind the Linkou Club.
So here we are, sitting out on the balcony, the table was all set and the gals were in the kitchen getting ready to bring out the food. We both could see right through the apartment and out the back windows. All of a sudden, in the middle of the sentence, he gets this strange look on his face and nods toward the back of the apartment. He then went "Shhhh!", and put his hand out like a traffic cop. I look back and I can see the top of the tail of an aircraft, then the top of the windshield. He whispers. We have no place to go and we don't want to frighten the girls. So there we are watcing this thing get bigger and closer! Wings, Wheels, and the deafening sound! As the girls reach the door opening, the plane passes over. We can see the bald spots in the spinning tires, the smell is overpowering, and the table flips from the propwash. It was a C-47. We ate in that night.
Daryl Raines, Sequim, WA - 1961 - 1962
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We lived in Tienmou. Rode out a hurricane, electricity was six hours on, six hours off.
When we moved in, a local came and offered us protection. We knew if we didn't pay, his relatives would clean us out at the earliest opportunity. I told him if we were ever robbed, we would point the finger at him. Every night, he came by, shining his flashlight through our windows to let us know he was on the job.
We bought vegetables from a local's pushcart that often came through our neighborhood. Among them were carrots the size of cucumbers. A buddy asked if I knew what the Taiwanese used for fertilizer, and I said, "No, and I don't want to know. Okay, Pal?"
Dave Highlands, St. Petersburg, FL - 1970 - 1972
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I was sound asleep one night, when my wife awoke and yelled, "Get the hell out of here!" The screen had been cut in the next bedroom where my kids slept. A dirty footprint was on the same pillow my son was sleeping on. I loaded the .22 that Fred Grafe left with me and went outside and down the street in American Village. Looking over the wall, I saw the guy, aimed the pistol at him, but didn't shoot.
Our paid gate guard had the cops called, and the American MP's said that if I'd fired at the guy, I'd be on the next plane out of Taiwan. The S. O. B. did poison my dog though and we had to put him down. Our dog was one of the pups from our Linkou mascot, "Queenie."
Monte Pettit, Bellevue, NE - 1962 - 1964
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Another memory from 1972: One evening three of us decided to have a night out on the town. We got bored with the usual 'watering holes', like the San Francisco Club and the Ambassador and decided to go a little off the beaten path. We hit a couple of the smaller clubs and finally ended up at a club that had no American name attached to the facade.
We went in, there was one man at the bar, the bartender, and two very young men at a table. We tried to order, and immediately realized why there was no American name on the front. One of the two young men knew a little "Engrish", and helped us order. We sat there a while talking to the two young men.
Suddenly, two "police" came in and started talking to the two young men. The police took one of the young men outside. So far, nothing to arouse our suspicion. As we sat there, a single shot rang out and the other young man beat feet for the other door. We decided it was good time to leave also. As we walked out, the young man lay there in a heap, and the two police were laughing.
We decided the "Beaten Path" wasn't so bad after that.
Neil Stackhouse, Wind Gap, PA - 1972 - 1973
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THE BISHOP OF TIENMOU
An exposition to the best of my knowledge.
The Catholic Church in Tienmou, Taiwan, still stands as it used to be back in our heyday. However, the old BOT housing has been supplanted by high rises and not recognizable anymore.
The Pastor of the Church was a Father John Herygers (sic) who was of Dutch origin. His assistant Priest also Dutch, was a Father Hermann, last name unknown. Both men had clerical positions on the China Mainland until the Commies took over in 1949, Father John was a full Bishop with a large diocese and I am not sure what job Father Hermann had.
When the Commies took charge, they began their usual suppression of religions of all sorts. Fearing public indignation, they did not arrest Bishop John. Their tactic with him was to get testimony condemning him as a renegade and malfeasant in office. After several months of failure, they coiuld not raise any perjurers to come forth, so they deported John through Hong Kong. From there, he admininstered a Church and an orphanage in Tienmou, Taiwan. His role there was ordinary Priest and Pastor.
Father Hermann was another matter altogether. He was imprisoned and subjected to the so-called "brain washing" of that era. After three years of it, he broke and denied his religion which immediately set him free and deportation through Hong Kong. During his incarceration, they crippled him and he maintained an almost staggering gait when I knew him.
When Hermann came across at Hong Kong, he was fortunate enough to be encountered by an American Army Colonel Psychiatrist who was an expert on deconditioning "brain wash" victims. He did six months of therapy with Hermann who was then resotred to his original core beliefs and standards. A very humble and stricken man, very old for his age.
Father John was a peripatetic figure in Tienmou. He wore a beret and a genial air about him as he went from door-to-door in the American housing area begging. He would accept anything you could give for his orphanage: tooth paste, food stuffs, clothing, just anything would do. Finally, if he was tired and overladen, he'd accept a ride back up the hill to his church.
An unforgettable man of God and a fond memory of the Taiwanese assignment.
Marty Doria, Provost Marshal, Pensacola, FL - 1962 - 1965
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Everyone who served at Linkoui before 1962 must have let the secret out because when I arrived in mid-1962, the Air Force had completely overbooked the place. An NCO would volunteer to man a position just to have a place to sit. However, the Army section was under-manned, so I volunteered for a one-year assignment (another story.)
I was assigned to a barracks downtown where the commissary was located. In case you don't remember where that was, it was where you went to get your lmonthly rations of alcohol and tobacco for personal (or Black Market) purposed (another story.) I lived here for a while until a typhoon hit. Someone forgot to close the flood gates to the river downtown. We were evacuated back to Linkou.
We were allowed to return a few days later to discover that our 12' barracks had been submerged under 14' of water (another story.) Everything was destroyed including uniforms. I was then assigned to a TDY barracks. One morning I go woke up and was told to report to the Provost Marshal's office to take a liek detector test. Seems as though the base commander, or whatever he was calle, had planted trees and shrubs to "beautify" the place. Well, someone had cut down some trees beside the TDY barracks because the chirping birds were waking him up (another story that has been told.)
John Robinson, Beaumont, TX - 1962 - 1963
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Living in Jiantan, a walk to the 63 Club or Linkou club only took a few minutes. However, one beautiful day, my then-girlfriend and I decided to walk to Hsimending.
About halfway, and mid-afternoon, Zhongshan N. Rd. suddenly became silent. This was almost unheard of. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks. Vehicles pulled off onto side streets. Military Police appeared out of nowhere and stood by the curb. Did I miss hearing the air raid sirens for their occasional testing? Nope!
Looking to the South, a motorcade was coming led by one or two jeeps filled with standing soldiers. Following them were three black cars. Could it be, I thought? Indeed it was.
I came to attention. My girlfriend tucked her arm in mine and I held a salute as the motorcade whizzed by. Seconds later, one of the MPs came over and saluted ME.
I saw my girlfriend's watery eyes and questioned her as to why. "I've never been this close to Chiang Kai Shek", she answered, "And why did you salute?", she added.
"Respect, my dear, respect."
Micheal "Sam" Smaha, Keelung, Taiwan - 1968 - 1969
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During a recent discussion with our former Provost Marshal, Marty Doria, I made the comment that as a lowly enlisted man, first an E-3 and then later an E-4, I did not have much occasion to interact with any of the Officers at Linkou--especially since I was content to be a one-termer and return to civilian life. I mentioned to him that the Officers breathed that "rarified air" that their commissioned status granted to them, air so pure which the lowly enlisted man could only imagine in their dreams. Well our conversation only kick-started his memory once again and he shared with me what some of those officers were really like while breathing that "rarified air."
Gary Knighton, Indian Trail, NC - 1961 - 1963
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According to custom, among those of us who were 'occifers,' "all the brothers are valiant, and all the sisters are virtuous." Unfortunately they forgot to mention that the "First Sergeant is like Mom, he's got eyes on the back of his head" (as explained to me by an old Provost Marshal whose name I suddenly can't recall.
Tom Penn, Commander, Charlie Flight, Bowie, MD - 1962 - 1964
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My dear friend, Yogi speaks of the "rarified air of the Commisioned Officers' world." Guys like our Tom Penn and some others I remember were great officers usually well suited for their responsibilities and cared kindly of by their enlisted associates
Then there were others that should make you shudder when you realized they were in charge. I'd like to present our site with a few vignettes depicting some of the characters I remember and their traits.
Martin Sandy Doria, Pensacola, FL - Provost Marshal, 1963 - 1965
Let us start off with Captain Shifty. He was the pudgy sort, non-athletic who wore a perpetual half smile that when near him you clutched your wallet with one hand and the loose change with the other. I can't tell you his job because that would give his identity away. My lovely wife Ruby, who had a Red Cross rescue DNA. befriended Shifty's wife, thereafter listening to her lamentations about Stuffy's shenanigans. My wife shared these with me, much to my disgust:
A USAFSS inspecton team looked over Shifty's bailiwick on a visit and found it to be in serious disorder. Somehow, Shifty was able to put the blame on Lt. Hapless, his assistant, who ended up with a poor Efficiency Report as a result.
Perhaps the salient feature about Shifty, was his outright greed causing me to nick name him Captain Cheapskate. As you remember, the Linkou Mess Hall had a ration-and-a-half alloted due to it being an isolated Mess service faciltiy. The chow was excellent with steaks and lobster and such. A real positive factor in the Linkou environ.
Each workday, Shifty paid $ .69 cents or so required of officers dining there. He feasted daily to a complete fill and returned to his office. According to my wife as told to her by Shifty's wife, when he'd return home at day's end, he demanded that the family eat only simple sandwiches for supper. That practice to save him money and since there was no need for him to eat more after pigging out at Linkou Mess. Some leader of men.
I just knew he was crooked but could never get the goods on Shifty.
MAJORDOMO KLAXPHONE and CAPTAIN PIPPY SQUEAK of LINKOU
(These two combined to subvert morale on Linkou station. The conversations contained herein are not actual quotes but characterizations trolled up from my fevered memory banks of over fifty years ago. In this manner, I have followed the Latin maxim: "operatio sequitir esse!" In Americanese: "if it walks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck!")
As we listen in, Majordomo Klaxphone begins his conversation with the Captain: "Captain Pippy, those kooks at Operations need a solid kick in the ass every day!"
Yessiree Major, they are mostly primadonnas who see themselves as special cases."
"When we get a report from that miserable Provost Marshal, the idea is to throw the book at any offender to make an example and exercise full discipline...that's the only way to boost morale on this station."
"I like using Article 15 to chew off a stripe. That hurts spending ability and it is so difficult to get the rank back."
"I agree Pippy and encourage you to exercise it whenever and wherever you see fit."
"You know, Major sir, that a secondary benefit is when the troop writes home and a change in rank indicates his punishment."
"I had not thought of that...good thinking Pippy."
Klaxphone is the quintessential throwback to old Army Air Corps days. He is obstinate in his patriotism and narrow in his view of how enlisted men need to be treated. He is loud, crude and intolerant in every sense of that word. On the other hand, Pippy Squeak is a tin saint; a non-drinker, non-smoker, non-social, non-fun-loving and a stickler for form and structure; he never laughs or jokes. He is in a quandary outside of form and structure. He is cold in nature with no warmth for anyone, merely seeing all military people as adversarial to good conduct, i. e., Ah yes, we must have absolute good conduct or else!!
A bible on discipline as suggested by General Schofield in 1878 would have been better for those two to observe, to wit:
"The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or the other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifest, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself."
Most eneavors at Linkou should had not been designed to employ that concept, per se. It eventually prevailed in the long run but that is another story.
Their were factions on Linkou amongst the Officer Corps. I arrived there on New Year's Day, 1963, learning that two of the principle officers were feuding. Accordingly, one had his group of loyalists and the other had his group.
I had experienced this at a previous base and knew enough not to choose either group and go it alone. This then enabled me to maintain a neutrality and equal enforcement of regs. with no lousy favoritism.
Sadly, the wives of each of the groups were quite militant and often influenced what was going on at the base from their place down in Taipei. They had a bridge club that met regularly and Captain Tragic's wife was one of the attendants thereto. Unfortunately, she said or did the wrong thing and a principle's wife took umbrage. That Dragon Lady pressed her husband to see that Captain Tragic suffered a bad Efficiency Report. Can you just imagine that crap???
Captain Tragic was a great guy, a man's man and good to the troops. He was a big fellow, hard worker and genial as could be, one of the finer types. Unfortunately, he was a reservist with eighteen years of service and over age in grade. Also passed over once for promotion putting him in the danger zone of a RIF (Reduction in Force) that sometimes goes on.
That last ER given to him at the Dragon Lady's influence caused the second pass over and he was placed on the RIF list. When I learned of this, I formed a posse of officers and made an endeavor to save Tragic's career. We composed a letter of circumstances testifying about Tragic's value to the USAF and signed and submitted it to the powers that were.
It did no good and Captain Tragic, with eighteen years of service, was chopped. A bitter pill for us to swallow and although I was a regular officer, immune from RIFs, it put me in a total heads-up mode about malicious influences and miniscule but arrogant personal egos at Linkou.
And from Luther Deese.....
THE LINKOU CHAPLAIN
After being diagnosed with a dose of "Non-Specific Urethritis" (NSU), I got my prescribed 1,000,000 units of procaine penicillin and a scheduled counseling by later -storied Shu Linkou Air Station Chaplain.
The Chaplain was a young USAF Captain and I think he was of the Southern Baptist persuasion. I went in expecting a stern brow beating about my m orals and dangers of spending eternity in the "Lake of Fire." To my surprise, however, he was very understanding. He allowed as how the prevalence of carnal pleasures was so readily available "Downtown" and how the allure was such that callow young Airmen such as myself could hardly be expected to abstain, didn't I think that a program designed to teach young fellows such as myself how to protect ourselves from contracting sexually transmitted diseases (would be good)? Of course I agreed with him. We had a friendly chat and I was on my way to complete my two-weeks' restriction on the hill (with my First Class Pass "pulled")
Sadly enough, it wasn't much longer after my "incident" that I learned the Chaplain's wife turned him in for shacking up with a Chinese gal on the side. I never learned who told the wife but those of us Linkou G. I.'s who knew and liked the good Chaplain considered whomever it was, to be a rotten asshole and hoped he reaped "just reward" for the dastardly deed.
Linkou was just a Squadron at that time. I left and went back to Yale for another year of Chinese. When I returned the 6987th had become a Group and our subordinate Squadron was led by one Capain World-Class Asshole (named Klinger--which is another name for dingleberry) who was intent on making life for Linkou G. I.'s as miserable as possible. I had returned with a new wife and was very glad not to be confined to "The Hill." I heard through back channels that Klinger was RIF'ed back to TSgt at some later date. One can only hope that he didn't have sufficient time in to retire as an O-3. E-6 was at least three pay grades above his level of competence.
Luther Deese, Ocala, FL - 1960 - 1961 & 1962 - 1964
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THE AIR FORCE BUS RIDE TO TAIPEI
We all know of the sometimes heroic bus rides to and from Linkou. The bus drivers were legendary, one we called Parnelli...and the other one A. J.
One memorable ride down the mountain involved A. J. and a blue Datsun 240Z that must have been the pride and joy of the two Taiwanese riding in it. Near the bottom of the mountain, the 240Z passed the bus and immediately slowed down. The bus passed the car again, and shortly thereafter, the 240Z passed the bus again and immediately slowed down.
We weren't able to pass for a while due to traffic. As soon as it was clear, A. J. started to pass but this time when he got even with the driver, he opened the door, shouted a few choice words at the driver, then proceeded to turn the wheel to the right. The Datsun 240Z decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and also turned right, launching into the freshly planted rice paddy ten feet below.
Neil Stackhouse, Wind Gap, PA - 1972 - 1973
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UFO'S AT LINKOU
As all of the Linkou Rats know, potentially, anything and everything could happen during one's tour of duty. What else would you expect with a couple hundred "teenagers/young adults", single, curious, and ready to take on the adventures of a wide-open city with a pocket full of money?
In early July, some years ago, during one of our Taiwan sojourns, a large cyst in the middle of my back somehow became infected. I went to Taipei Adventist Hospital and had a surgeon examine it. It turned out that he was a native Taiwanese and enjoyed conversing with me in that dialect. He told me the cyst had to come out and suggested the next day, July 4. I had picnic and party plans and asked him to set it up for July 5, and he did.
On the morning of July 5, I arrived and was escorted to a changing room where I changed in to the ususal open back gown and they took me into a small surgery. I lay belly down on the "operating table", a metal table only, a little over a foot wide and I, but able to lock my arms underneath it to keep from falling off. The Doctor swabbed the area in my back with an antiseptic and proceeded to inject a series of Novocain shots--which hurt like hell by the way.
Once he determined that the cyst area of my back was numbed, he picked up his trusty scalpel and began to cut. Now he was standing on my left and I was facing in that direction. He had two nurses in attendance but they seemed to just stand around and watch. As the blood and gore began to accumulate in the cutting area, he asked one of the nurses for some swabs and when he swabbed the area he would wring the damned thing out right in my field of vision. I guess the swabs weren't soaking up a sufifcient amount because he called for suction. One of the nurses wheeled in some antique contraption that had a huge glass dome on it and put this right in my field of vision as well. It was turned on and was quite noisy making sounds not unlike an old fashioned sewing machine. It did the job however, because I soon began watching the inside of the glass dome become spattered with blood, gore, and bits of fat and (my) flesh.
My good Doctor continued to cut away for well over the half hour that he'd estimated the job to take and the time that the Novocain was effective, for I commenced to feel the pinching sensations as he cut with the scalpel. My reaction was to squeeze my arms together under the table damn near bending it which caused the Doctor to ask, "Ooo Tia(n)h Boh? (有疼嗎/Taiwanese or "Teng Ma?" or "Does it hurt?"), to which I repllied, "Oooo!" (有/Taiwanese meaning, essentialy, "Damned right it does!")
The Doctor stopped cutting and administered several more Novocain shots and then resumed his cutting. The inside of the glass dome was pretty much totally covered with blood and gore by now. The Novocain wore off twice more before the cyst was finally out of me and we went through the same procedure each time, he'd asked me if it hurt and I would confirm to him that it did.
When he finally got the cyst out, he proudly showed it to me. It was larger than a goose egg and one end was inflamed and full of pus. He asked me if I wanted it but I demurred, requesting instead, that a biopsy be performed. The wound was too large and deep for stitching so the Doctor packed it with medicated gause and bandaged the area.
I dressed and went downstairs to pay the bill. It came to considerably more than had originally been estimated (due to the excees Novocain) and I was about NT$3000.00 short. I showed them my Ministry of National Defense I. D., and they allowed me to sign for it. I drove home and felt just fine.
In fact, there was a major MND organization going away party for my wife and I that night and my wife had to be my 'GanBei DaiBiao' 人(乾杯代表) since I was on antibiotics and wasn't supposed to do any heavy drinking. The other wives at the banquet followed suit and it turned out to be a hell of a party.
Our host was one Major General Sun and he prided himself on his capacity or alcoholic beverages. He did his best to get the wives drunk and, in so doing, did himself in. That was the first time I'd ever seen a Chinese Gerneral carried out of a banquet feet first.
We spent ten days in Korea on our way home and I had my wound repacked there once. Later, in Maryland, I had it repacked a couple more times and it healed up right well. A friend who remained in Taiwan sent me the biopsy results and they were negative.
Today there is just a hole in the middle of my back to remind me of this experience when I happen to notice it. I have to say that over the many years we lived out East, I had much better experiences with Chinese dentists than with the Medical Doctors and surgeons.
Luther Deese, Ocala, FL - 1960 - 61 and 1962 - 1964
THE LINKOU COMIC
From time to time I've mentioned one each Captain Christopher Paolucci who was assigned to Linkou Air Station in the early to mid-sixties. Chris, as he was known, had a name and appearance to easily set him off as a not oridinary run of the mill Air Force officer.
He was approximately 5' 10" of medium weight. He wore a perpetual, disarming smile but what characterized him was his very large ears and narrow forehead. One would say: "By golly here is a tall gnome that became a Captain in the Air Force."
His appellation for me was "Grouch." "Hello Grouch, how many people did you lock up today?"
"I dont go about locking people up Chris, so why do you say that?"
"You have a lock up cell don't you?"
"Well yes, but it is mostly unused and empty."
"I heard that Herbie the mascot goat had his throat cut, would you lock up that murderer, Grouch?"
"That's a moot question and I doubt whether we'll ever find out who did it."
Chris goes on and on with this sort of dialogue designed to humor/harass or make me want to quit police work.
Chris was no stickler for military customs as you may have already guessed. If he was saluted on the grounds his response was not the protocol: "Pick your hand up to your head like you were liting a cup cake, then dropping it smartly like it was a lump of dung." No, his was a casual return wave if at all, like: "Hi Bud. How's it goin'?"
He was not part of the 6987th but had our club clearance and belonged to a Unit on Linkou, I remember as Communications. He never talked shop so I had no idea what they did there and really didn't care. His view of Linkou and our trials and tribulations was one of bemusement.
I remember instances where a courier would bring in a huge envelope labeled TOP SECRET and have me sign for it. I'd hurriedly open it and find items of desk debris such as eraser parts, pencil stubs, bent paper clips and last but not least, pencil shavings and a note proclaiming, "Hello Grouch who will you arrest today." I'd snort: "this is not funny, it's a violation of AFR 205-1...an outrage and misuse of security channels." Then I would break down and laugh for ten minutes at the man's inane absurdity.
Chris had an array of one-liners that were quite disrespectul of our mutual Italian heritage but they made you laugh:
"Grouch, did you watch that Elliot Ness show on TV when you were Stateside...You know, the one called 'Cops and WOPS'?"
"Grouch, did you know that WOPS originated at Ellis Island when an Italian immigrant arrived with no documentation?"
"How did that occur Chris?"
"They stamped his hand with WOP meaning With Out Papers."
"Grouch, do you know what the Pope at St. Peters is saying when he comes out on his balcony and gestures to the sea of Italians below?"
"What is he saying Chris?"
He is waving furiously at them: "come on you WOPS get off my lawn!"
Grouch, did you hear about the Pope falling in his balcony?"
"No I had not heard that Chris, what happened?"
"Well Grouch, that sea of Italians below the balcony emanated wafting aromas of garlic whose rising fumes caused the Pope to faint."
Then there was the episode I've told when I was briefing the Commanding General and his staff about disciplinary matters on Linkou, only to look up and find Chris with that smile, at an open doorway in the rear of the room holding up a large placard with the inscription: MARTY YOUR FLY IS OPEN!!"
The "Marty Check" remains his masterpiece of chicanery. His outit was sending him TDY to Tokyo for a week. I asked him nicely, "Chris, if I give you a check or 25 bucks would you bring back a Pa Chinko (a kind of game encased upright Japanese slot machine were you dropped a coin at the top and it fell through nail obstacles to a score at the bottom)?"
"Sure Grouch," smiling, "I'll be happy to do that for you." Of course he kept the check and never cashed it, carrying it in his wallet for years. More on that later.
Once back in the States, no matter where I was assigned and for years, a secretary would buzz me and tell that there was an urgent phone call for me. Lifting up I'd hear, "Hello Grouch, how does it feel not to be locking people up anymore?"
"Chris, you miserable so-and-so. Don't you know regs prohibit you from using MARS for personal non-emergency calls?" I hear that smile over the phone.
"I'm from Communications. I don't know about such regs."
Back to the "Marty Check": After I left Linkou, Chris kept attending our Thursday night poker club. He would bring out his outstanding Marty Check and use it for ante or getting chips but retrieving it at game's end.
One day, I believe in the late '70's or '80's, can't remember, I was living here in Florida when the phone rang. It was Mrs. Paolucci, Chris' wife from their home in Tennessee. "I'm sorry to tell you this because he was your dear friend, but Chris died today from a blood disease he may have got in the Far East." I immediately wept, then laughed at memories, then wept and laughed again. In writing this, I do both.
No. I never asked Mrs. Paolucci what ever happened to the "Marty Check." I presume it was buried with Chris. I'd want it that way.
Martin Sandy Doria, Pensacola, FL - January, 1962 - June, 1965
I remember arriving August 7th (1966), with another fellow from my 20230 Class, Paul Houltry from, Pennsylvania. Paul arrived in need of a haircut and a bit under the weather as we had somehow been taken by our transport from Sung Shan Airport (in downtown Taipei) to Taipei Air Station. Upon Arriving there, arrangements were made to take us and our gear to Linkou. We were told to wait in the NCO Club. Paul had a few more than I at the club. I was shocked when the Chinese driver of the truck we were in took such glee at running the locals off the road into the ditch.
We checked in at the Orderly Room and were assigned one of the tin barracks beds for incoming and outgoing personnel.
Another of my friends not mentioned on your site was Bruce Phinney (a linguist, Pu Ru Hwa.) Bruce saw me studying Chinese and encouraged me along with Dixie Duggan (Du Lao Hu.) We would make up Chinese characters and carefully check a copy of Morohashi (13 volume Japanese dictionary of Chinese) to make sure make sure the character did not exist. Then we would write the character and ask the Chinese for a translation. It was a sort of knowledge and humility test. Bruce also introduced me to a fairly rare and arcane numerical lookup system for Chinese characters called the Shou Wei Hao Ma system (Head and Tails number system) by which a dictionary had been written but printed in a 4" x 5" format. It listed the characters in numerical order by assigning a number value to the irst two and last two strokes. The dictionary then listed the pronounciation, STC Number, Meaning, Antonym, Synonym, and Homonym followed by several common phrases where the word was used. Bruce held an informal seminar on this topic and I found encouragement from Bruce and others to continue my studies. The numerical index system is still used by the Hong Kong Police as a name tracking tool. I finally took a U of MD Chinese class that was taught downtown and did the entire course writing Chinese characters instead of the romanization used by other students.
I got another boost of encouragement by teaching English to one of the cashiers at the downtown Linkou Club (Shrily Yang.) I taught English to her and one of her friends (Chen Yang Ying) and they taught me Chinese using the school books used by the Chinese Elementary grad students. This turned out to be a bust for me as I fell head over heels in love with Chen Yang Ying.
She was working at a Chinese military hosptial not far from the U. S. Consulate downtown. I visited that hospital one day and came away crying at the filth I saw in the Operating Room. Such an angelic girl working in such a filthy hospital. A year later I found out she was engaged to be married to a guy from Malaysia. Then she got a job at a brand new Catholic hospital that had opened near Green Lake. I visited her there and was happy to see her in her white uniform, Head Nurse at a spanking clean and modern hospital.
Thousands of stories more, but the names and dates are fading.
Pat Kirol, Ione, WA - August, 1966 - May, 1969
Anyone who spent any amount of time on the "Hill" knew that the allures of Taipei could soon become routine and trips to town took on a more or less perfunctory nature. The Air Force (as did all branches of the military) designed sports programs to enable the servicemen to channel their energies into more wholesome activities by assembling teams in various sports and, at seasons' end, held tournaments between Air Force units all over Taiwan as well as the Pacific Theater.
Shu Linkou had a sports program that I believe was second to none and fielded base sports teams that rarely were bested by the competition. For those of us that were not talented eough to play athletics at the highest, we played intramural sports against other Flights on the base. For a small Air Force installation with a complement of roughly 600 Air Force personnel, we had very talented athletes in every sport. In the 1966-67 season, the Shu Linkou basketball team was crowned the PACAF Champions after competing against all Air Force teams in the Pacific Theater.
Herchel Newman, a member of that 1966-67 basketball team, submitted the team photo below with the trophy. Herchel is standing at the right side of the photo.
1966-67 PACAF CHAMPIONS - 6987TH ESS
A LONG WAY TO GO JUST TO BOWL (PART 1)
I was so looking forward to leave after Basic Training but my orders hadn’t come in. In fact they didn’t come in for an additional three weeks. I could have been home for two of those. From Columbus, Ohio the farthest I’d ever been from home was Detroit, Michigan and believe me that was no vacation. When orders finally came they read I was to report to Keesler AFB within 48 hours. There had to be a mistake. I was assured there was no mistake. A year earlier (1965) I was watching on TV some of the things that were going on in Mississippi. Now here I was so far down in Mississippi the ocean was in walking distance.
I didn’t begin Tech School for another three weeks. I could have been home for two of those. Morse Intercept school began and the course laid out. I was told after testing at Lackland AFB that I scored higher on the Morse code test than they had seen in quite some time. Once school began though, I knew I was in trouble. I was never going to learn that stuff. The instructor assured us we could and would learn it or else we wouldn’t be there. Typing was another thing. No way was I going to be able to get these fingers to go where they should. Even if I did, I’d never be able to type those sounds coming in my ears. Simply no way.
As it turned out, I phased ahead three weeks in the course and graduated third in that class. We were asked how many of us wanted to go overseas. Raise your hands. Now keep them up and the rest of you raise your hands. That’s good because you’re all going and if you’ll look at the map here I’ll show you where. He pointed to Taiwan. You may also know the name Formosa. Gentlemen, you’re going to be a long way from your momma’s kitchen. I accepted and decided I’d deal with it when the time came. Right now I was looking forward to going home.
I found a ride from an ad on the bulletin board. We crammed five guys and duffels into a VW and drove to New Orleans where two of the guys were from. We drove back to Biloxi and picked up one more and headed to Mobile, Alabama. This was it. Three of us got out at the airport and gave our driver a big tip. Mobile was his home.
This was the dream wake-up. One of these planes was going to jet me home in a matter of a few hours. I bought passage and had my tickets in hand. My dream began cracking when I saw the plane I was going to board. It was a twin engine prop. It’s shoulders drooped and it looked tired. It was trying to talk but saying nothing I could understand. I stayed positive. Heading home at 500 mph would be best but 300 mph headed home would still get me there.
As it turned out, I was on the milk run flight/s. We lifted from Mobile and sat down in Columbia, buzzed up and back down in Greenville, droned up and down to Charlotte, buzzed on over to Raleigh where I had a two hour layover. Not only was I flying low and slow, I was going in the wrong direction it seemed. Finally boarded once again it seemed we were going to make some progress. Next stop: Pittsburgh, PA.
I listened to the engines hum. This would be a long enough stretch to get a nap. I’d been on the move since before daybreak seemingly going everywhere except where I wanted to go. I could see the rugged but beautiful earth below. I dozed until I heard the announcement to put seats in the upright position and fasten seat belts as we prepared for landing in Pittsburgh. I checked my ticket. I had to change planes for the direct flight to Columbus. I had just enough time to get to my departure gate.
Out the window I saw a for real modern day aircraft. It sat proud and assured that it could fulfill my every expectation. It had personality. It spoke to me. Airman Newman, I’ve been waiting here for you all morning. You didn’t think I’d let one of those bumble bees fly you home did you? You’re United States Air Force. Like me, you’re a real American–Welcome aboard. The wings were swept back and two jet engines hung beneath each of them–American Airlines Boeing 707. Now that’s what I was talking about.
The engines whined as we pushed back. They came up to a roar as we started our roll. I was pushed back in my seat. A smile spread across my face as we lifted off. Of course the flight didn’t take long. Ladies and gentlemen we are making our final approach to Port Columbus International Airport. Please place your seats in the upright position, stow all personal items and make sure your seat belts are fastened. Current temperature in Columbus is 65 degrees.
The lady beside me hadn’t said a word until now.
"You seem to be anxious and very happy. Is this your home, young man?"
"Is this your first time back since you left?"
"How long have you been gone?"
"Oh my. I bet your family will be glad to see you."
"Does your mother know you’re coming?"
"What a surprise this will be."
"How long will you get to stay?"
"Thirty days then I’ll be going over seas."
"Well, you enjoy every day and God bless you."
The tires cried with a deep screech and smoke swirled, engines reversed and the plane vibrated as it shed the speed of flight. We taxied to the terminal. It was mid afternoon on October 12th; Columbus Day.
As I made my way through the terminal I saw a couple Sky Caps I knew. I gave a shout and they gave a welcome home greeting. A taxi cab to the Hilltop was going to cost a lot, but I had money and was ready to go. I told the driver to go straight up Broad St. so I could see the city. They were celebrating the holiday downtown. I felt it was just for me.
We crossed the Scioto River and a couple miles later we were climbing to the Hilltop on the west side. The long day of travel was coming to a close. "Three more houses driver. This is it." The first thing I noticed when I got out the cab was that my car wasn’t there.
He got my duffel bag from the trunk. I gave a generous tip, slung my bag over my shoulder in true GI style and walked up to the gate. The little house looked like an oasis to me. I tried the door before I rang or knocked. It was open. I went in. Mother, called from her bedroom. "Dwight, is that you?" Dwight, was my brother who obviously was home on leave from the Army. "Lock the door behind you; anybody could come walking in here."
I walked to the dining room. I could see in her bedroom. She was lying down with her back to me. "Did you hear what I said?" I said, "You’re right. Anybody could come walking up in here." She rolled over and looked at me. It took a second for her to pull me into focus then she screamed with delight. "Herky, you’re home!" She rolled out and hit me full force and wrapped me up in a bear hug as it were. She cried and kissed her man child all around my face.
"Just look at you! You’re a man!"
"Mother, I was hoping to be nice and pressed when I got here, but I’ve been traveling since six o’clock this morning, so I’m somewhat wrinkled"
"You look just fine. Have a seat. You must be hungry."
"That and tired, but it sure is great to be home. You know I thought I’d be back in six weeks; not nine months."
"Oh, I’ve missed you so much, but I appreciated that you wrote as much as you did and the pictures you sent. What would you like to eat?"
"If you’ve got it here, I’d like breakfast food; bacon, eggs and toast would be fine."
"I’ll fry you some potatoes too. It won’t take long. How long will you be here?"
"I’ve got thirty days before I have to report to Seattle, Washington. That’s where we leave from.
The phone rang; Mother answered. It was my oldest brother, Leon. She told him right off I’d just come in. I took the phone. He said, "Hey man, I’m glad you’re home. I know you’ll be wanting the car so I’ll be there in a little while." He was right. There was someone else I was anxious to see.
Believe it or not, this writing is to tell you a bowling story. Wait for it. This is all just a lead in.
I ate a lot of my mother’s fine cooking because I recalled hearing the instructor say I was going to be a long way from my momma’s kitchen. I kissed the sweet face of that special girl a lot until day 29 arrived. It had been a great leave, but it was again time to leave. I said my see-you-laters, signed the title to the DeSoto over to my brother and promised to write.
I flew out Standby. It was close but one of the ticket agents was a friend from the Hilltop. Hilltoppers look out for each other. He put my form on top of the pile. It was a cold wet evening when I arrived in Seattle. A shuttle dropped me off at the YMCA where I got a room for $5.00. I can see that little room in my memory after all these years. It didn’t take much for the wake-up call to arouse me. I didn’t sleep all that well.
I shuttled back to the airport. As I approached the assigned gate I began to see a few familiar faces. One by one all the guys on our set of orders showed up. We really didn’t know one another all that well, but we greeted like long lost friends. One guy had been driven up by his parents from Frisco. They became parents to us all. They said, "When you guys come home we’ll be right here with enough transportation for all of you to come to our house. We’ll throw a big Welcome Home party and you can spend the night. In the excitement of planning and the commotion of other people saying good byes, I noticed a Japanese family of four standing almost in a huddle quietly unto themselves. They only had each other.
My face was pressed to the window as the shoreline of Uncle Sam’s home faded away. Fourteen hours later a rain storm had us shaking and flying sideways trying to land in Tokyo, Japan. The plane seemed to hydroplane. I hoped we could come to a safe stop. As the plane came under control there was a collective sigh.
Once inside the terminal things were totally different than they were fifteen hours earlier. We huddled together trying to figure out where we were suppose to go for the night and how to get there. I noticed the Japanese family who had been so isolated before. There was family there to greet them. They were hugging and bowing and laughing. They were home. That big flying machine had changed our circumstances. There was a US Air Force information center. They got us routed and transported to where we would spend the night.
Once there and settled, the guys decided to check out the local evening life. The storm was over and I was afraid these guys were going to cause another. It turned out to be a mini adventure. The lights, crowds, sounds, smells–oh the smells. We took in as much as possible before accepting an invitation for hospitality in a local bar. The guys had a couple drinks each and one girl on each of their laps. I was the odd man out. I doubt they were as high as they seemed with all their laughter on two watered down drinks.
The evening came to an end and the playful girls got up and walked away. The host came over with each of their bills. That sobered them up quick and in a hurry. He pointed to the menu on the wall which had the price for girl entertainment. It was my turn to laugh.
I slept pretty well that night. Morning had us heading out on the next leg of our journey. We left Tokyo with fond memories; at least I did. Soon we were landing on the island of Okinawa. The surrounding waters were beautiful. I remembered some of my world history and I was standing on some of that ground. The stay wasn’t long. Next stop: Taipei, Taiwan. The land below was green, lush and mountainous. Fortunately the runway was flat and dry. Inside the terminal we looked for the person who was to meet us.
It was a long wait. After a few phone calls we were told to sit tight. When A1C Waiters arrived, he apologized. He said the info they had was that we were arriving the next day. The ride to Shu Lin Kou was like I was in another world. I realized that in fact I was. Everything my eyes focused on was shock and awe. It was sad and it was exhilarating. After we began the climb to the station I wondered where could there possible be one. Main gate looked something like civilization as I remembered it.
We were processed, assigned living quarters and briefed about living at Linkou. An escort pointed out different things such as the BX as he walked us to the mess hall. "Fellas, you’re in for a treat here." And so we were. And this is where the beginning of the bowling story opens.
Herchel Newman, Groveport, OH - November, 1966 - February, 1968
A LONG WAY TO GO JUST TO BOWL (PART 2)
For days I heard and watched guys anxiously leaving station. I was assigned make busy duties until my clearance came through. One day I was out policing the grounds. Everybody passing by gave me a strange look. One brother stopped and asked what in the world was I doing. (I policed up his language) It was obvious but I told him just the same. "Man, I don’t care who told you to do that, nobody does that sort of thing. We have local people who do that. Even they don’t want you doing it.
We exchanged names and first off everybody wants to know where you’re from. I asked him what all the commotion was outside the gate. He said the guys were haggling with the cabbies over price to go to town. Then he pointed to one guy in particular.
"You see that brotha with the brown bag in his hand?"
"Yeh, what about him?"
"Well, that’s Charlie Daniel. He’s known all over Taipei as Taiwan Charlie. He’s from Queens, NY and speaks the language like a native. He’s cool but he runs alone. If you could buddy up with him, you’d really get to see this island."
"What’s in the bag?’ I asked.
"Don’t know, but he’s always got one when he leaves the hill."
I watched and while the other guys were haggling, each of the cabbies offered to take Charlie. He chose one and left with only himself in the cab.
"You see, Newman, Taiwan Charlie, is one of a kind. And another thing, get lost and just go back to the office at 1600 hrs. Nobody is going to give you a hard time about it."
I took a self guided tour to learn where things were and went back at 1600. No problem. I was careful about making friends and culture shock kept me on station. As a result I used the gymnasium quite a bit. That’s where I began to make a few friends. After I showed some prowess, I was asked to show up for practice with the base basketball team.
After my clearance came through, I was assigned to Able Flight to do the for real ditti bop thing. As it turned out Taiwan Charlie was on that flight and one of the first to school me and help me settle in. As fate would have it, we were told that everybody was going to have to select roommates from the same flight as much as possible. One room with three guys from different flights was causing problems. Three to a room; choose your roommates.
"How about you man; you wanna room with me and my man Foster here?"
"Sure, I’m good with that." So I became roomy with Foster from Indy and Taiwan Charlie from Queens.
Besides the gym, I spent quite a bit of my free time at the Bowling Alley. I was a decent bowler but with the time I’d put in I got really good–rolled 200+ often. Late one Friday night when I turned in my score sheet the attendant said, "Congratulations! You are the gift certificate winner."
"Say what? What certificate?" I asked.
He pointed to the board on the wall and explained. "Here we keep track of the highest scores turned in at the end of each day. The highest score turned in by midnight on Friday wins a $50.00 gift certificate to the Base Exchange. You are this weeks winner with your 224 score. Here you are."
"Thank ya, thank ya, thank ya! I’ll see you next Friday night."
Of course I didn’t bowl everyday but I looked in to check the high score. Depending on what hours I was on duty–we worked a rotating shift–I made certain to get a high score up. I collected that certificate for the next two weeks before it all hit the fan. Perhaps I should say something like, before the Devil Dog came to sink its teeth into me.
We were about to begin the mid-shift and I’d just come through the chow line and was looking for a seat in the hall. Charlie called out, "Hey Newman come sit over here with us. I sat and before I could get my elbows on the table a dude with a bad attitude walked up close to me and asked, "Are you Newman?" The table got quiet. I didn’t know what to expect. I pushed my chair back a little.
I looked up at him. "Yes, that’s my name."
He said, "I've been trying to find out who you were. You've been taking my money and I don't like it."
At that, all the hall in ear shot got quiet. Seems something was about to go down. This black dude was about six feet tall and serious. I didn’t know him and of course didn’t understand the accusation. I’m nobody’s tough guy, so it must have showed I was nervous. I’m just sayin, but don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t no punk either. "Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why are you accusing me of taking your money?"
He said, "I’m talking about at the bowling alley. I collect that $50.00 as part of my budget. The last two weeks when I went to get it the guy showed me the board and said some dude named Newman took my money."
I reclaimed my composure. I scooted my chair back up to the table. I used all the boldness he’d just demonstrated and told him with a smirk on my face, "Now I understand, but you need to understand; you’re not gettin that money anymore. That money is mine."
The guys started whooping it up. I started eating like this conversation was over. Charlie, stood up and hollered out, "It sounds like a challenge to me!" From across the room someone echoed his words.
The guy’s name was Stewart. He said, "Let’s set this up."
I said, "Let’s do it."
Charlie said, "I’m Newman’s second. Whose yours?"
His buddy was standing with him. Stewart said,"This is my partner right here.
Charlie spoke loud enough for the entire hall to hear. "We’ll set it up for the evening between shifts. I’ll post it on the bulletin board where everybody can check it out.
There was no handshake. Just a hard look from him, a nod from me and see ya then.
Everybody at the table started talking at once.
Man, I didn’t know what that dude was up to. Newman, you think you can take him? I already have; twice. Man we’re gonna make some money on this. You guys wanna pool our money?
I could see him from where I was sitting. He kept looking over like he was trying to size me up. As we walked to the Ops building for our shift, I had gained an entourage. I guess this was a first to be called out like that. I hadn’t looked at the names on the board; only the scores. His scores were within a few pins of mine. I’d have to be ready for this match.
Over the next two days, word spread about how Newman, the new guy, had served Tony Stewart notice about no more money from winnings at Linkou Lanes. I couldn’t go anywhere without someone bringing up the Friday night match. I saw my opponent around station a few times. He had a stare like he was trying to get into my head. I knew I was into his. It was assumed one of us was going to win the $50.00 certificate but there was a lot more money going down on this match. I think Charlie and Foster were more nervous than I was. They were handling the bets and money. All I had to do was bowl. We had a free day and a half before we began the next rotation. Guys were anxious to get to town for some fun. Taxis were parked outside the gate awaiting the onslaught, but as they approached, most made their way to Linkou Lanes for the showdown. Nothing else had been on my mind all day. Me and my boys arrived before Stewart and his. There was already a crowd and some cheers rang out from it.
There were about ten lanes with pin boys in the pits. Dudes were bowling and playing pinball. When Stewart and his guys arrived, dudes started whooping it up again. Somebody hollered out, "Clear the lanes and let’s get this on so we can get to town. We got us some shoes and found balls we liked and had a warm up match. So that it wouldn’t be head to head, we bowled double. Stewart and his potner, Johnson, against Taiwan Charlie and myself. I don’t remember who won. It wasn’t important
Foster was taking bets and keeping tabs. Cash in the kitty so no one could welch. Foster said, "Hersh, if you’re feeling it, I’m going to put more of our money down." I told him, "I’m fine. You and Charlie do whatever you want and don’t talk to me about money anymore." We agreed on two lanes we liked for alternating frames. Charlie, flipped a coin. Johnson called heads. Heads it was and Stewart opted to go first on the right lane. I offered and he shook my hand with the message, "I’m getting my money back and more." I said, "Show me what ya got. It was time. I was nervous, but I knew that would go away as soon as I knocked some pins over.
Stewart, set himself. The place was absolutely still. He approached and let go. The ball moved out to the right but the smooth rotation brought it back crashing through the sweet pocket. STRIKE! Applause followed. He said, "Now lets see what you’ve got."
Though right handed, I throw a backup ball. It feels more natural. I selected my spot. Envisioned the ball going into the Brooklyn side pocket, approached and let it go with a smooth release. It rolled straight down the gutter’s edge then half way down it began to turn and I knew right where it was going. It slammed in like it was radar controlled. SteRIKE! My supporters cheered. I managed to hear the relief mixed in. I said to my opponent, "See what you can do on this lane."
He got right to work. He started pumping his fist as soon as his ball began its curve back; another strike. I said, "Nice strike." He said, "Yes. It was." His buddy laughed and gave him a high five. I had to adjust my vision on the right lane, so I took a little longer. One two three steps, a fluid swing and coordinated release. No doubt about it. STRIKE. There were no words exchanged as I sat. We knew this was a serious match. So serious in fact that he turned in another strike for the first turkey of the match. One ball later and I turned in the second turkey.
We had been transported into one of those zones where it all felt right. Respect had been established on both sides. Anyone who came in the door was quickly hushed by the spectators whose money crinkled with each roll. Tension grew with each frame for the bettors but seemingly not for the bowlers. Here’s the quick rundown on the next four frames:
It was the 8th frame. I don’t think anyone thought there would be two perfect games, but who would crack first? I’d brought my concentration in to my own game. I wouldn’t watch him bowl. I just kept hearing that ball sing its song on the way to the pocket. My head was down. My eyes were closed. The way his ball hit the lane was like a sour note. His crew gasped. His foot stomped. I looked up. There were two pins standing and to his dismay they weren’t close together. He picked up the 10 pin. Perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I turned for the first time and looked at Charlie and Foster.
I didn’t strike but I got my spare. He had another tough spare leading to an open frame but finished strong giving him a score of 242. A strike in the 9th and 16 in the 10th gave me the victory. Not too often a guy rolls a 242 and loses by 21 pins. I closed out with 263.
We shook hands. Everybody applauded us. Even the pin boys came out to shake our hands. Stewart said, "You deserve the money. That’s the best I’ve ever bowled. I just couldn’t keep it together." I said, "You made me earn it. This is the best I’ve ever bowled."
The bankers finished their business and somebody said, "Ok, let’s go to town." One answer came saying, "I ain’t got no money now." The attendant said I would probably get the certificate but he had to wait until midnight. That was fine. I could wait. Foster and Taiwan Charlie seemed to have a lot of money. I just needed to get my cut before they cut out for town.
Note: Stewart and I became friends. Played on the basketball team together. That’s him standing in front of me in the team picture. He even loaned me the jacket I was wearing.
Herchel Newman, Groveport, OH - November, 1966 - February, 1968
MY INFAMOUS BASKETBALL CAREER...
I played in one "official" and officiated game...or 1 minute and, that was the end of my basketball career...perhaps you remember it...
After watching a wonderful...alluring...pre-game exhibition game by two lovely local girls teams, it was our turn to play.
Late in the game I came in as a sub an we started down the court. The ball was thrown to me and I did not even see it, much less intercept it. It went out of bounds and my teammates loudly razzed me--to whcih I replied with a resounding response using unprintable language.
...Immediate Technical Foul by the Ref
...to which I responded with another unprintable "comment."
...Immediate 2nd Technical Foul...
...to which my teammates really burst out in laughter and copious razzing. Not a quick learner, I returned in kind, again with a sailor's language.
...Immediate 3rd TF and ejection.
So ended what could have been a great career in basketball...(well, not likely.)
Matt Murphy, Balcolyn, N. S. W., Australia, 1965 - 1967
I got to SLK from the P.I. in June/July '57, and was there thru the 2 Taiwan Straits crises, was involuntarily extended 3 months, so I spent 18 months there.
I don't recall any sports on the hill, (plenty in Sin Alley and Peitou.) I believe I was the first, if not the only one, who found a Judo school run by 2 businessmen and convinced them to let about 5 of us attend. They taught students from a couple of the schools, some I think were young military. I don't think at first they were convinced we were serious and for the first 3 months we were only allowed to train with the 2 instructors. We would go to the dojo every chance we had, on breaks, and after a while we practiced and competed with most of the students and had a great time.
I was scheduled to take the next test competition to upgrade my belt level, (they only used the colors white, brown, black) and had to win five matches on that one day. Unfortunately that was when we were all suffering from the Asian flu that all of us had, we were all sick and no meds, but I managed to get thru 4 matches but couldn't do the 5th.
I know this is a long story but as I said, I don't remember anyone I knew at that time playing anything.
Cliff Koppelman, Brooklyn, NY - July, 1957 - December, 1958
DEVIL DOGS - 1971 -73
I found the patch and photo in a box in the garage last week. Old memories. I had kept the patch from an old blue Devil Dog jacket (like all on the team had) that I had to throw away when it was worn out in the late 70s.
Some old teammates I remember from that 1972 HSA Captain's Cup Fast Pitch champions (33 wins, 4 losses) were Sam Hargrave, Ken Dick, Ken McCurley, Dale Day, Arnie Hayes, John Clarson, Windell McCord, Nelson Motley, Jim Simonelig, Jerry Richardson, Jimmy Norris, Ted Johnson, Matt Keough.
Perhaps some other alumni may remember more players from that team, or the '71 Devil Dog team or the '73 team...and maybe how to contact them.
I recall many of the games we had in the HSA-MAAG Compound softball field had at least a couple hundred fans attending - including many night games and some weekend games. For the '72 Island-wide tourney it was standing only all around he field, with some estimates of over a thousand in attendance.
The top competition of the Devil Dogs in those days were from Taipei Air Station and from CCK (Chin Chuan Kang AFB) in the Taijung area.
I pitched on that '72 team and found in an old notebook that in 1972 fellow pitcher and team coach Ken Dick was 18 wins, 2 losses (including 5 no-hitters), I was 12 wins, 2 losses (1 no-hitter), and Windell McCord was 3 wins and 0 losses in spot duty. Dale Day let the Captain's Cup league in batting average, and Arnie Hayes had the most home runs.
Our SLK base commander in '72 was Colonel O. D. Graham who attended quite a few of the games and cheered us on. His predecessor through mid-'71 was Colonel Barnes, who was an even bigger sports fans, reportedly having friendly (some said substantial) wagers on some of the games (including local football and basketball) with other military group leaders from the Taipei area and throughout Taiwan.
Post game celebrations were often held at the downtown Linkou Club, and sometime spilling over to some of the local clubs in the wee hours.
Sports - base-level sports as well as intramural - were a significant part of the Taiwan/Shu Linkou experience for many of us back in those days.
Neal Novotny, Foster City, CA - April, 1971 - April, 1973