USASTRATCOM

This blog was created for USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion Army personnel who served in Taiwan during the 1965-72 time frame. Specifically, those who lived and worked in and around Taipei are the target. If you worked at the Grass Mountain or Gold Mountain facilities or anywhere in downtown Taipei, we would like to hear from you. All are welcome to visit and contribute to this blog. Your comments and pictures are encouraged.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Camp Within A Fort: Camp Crocket, Georgia

For those of you who have followed this blog, you know that Ft. Gordon was both my basic training fort and AIT signal school.  I follow news about Gordon closely and will be adding more on it at a later date.  

Not too many men stationed at Fort Gordon during the peak of the Vietnam War years of 1967 through1969 ever heard of, much less saw, an AIT infantry outfit isolated in the woods of western Fort Gordon, GA.  

It was supposed to be a natural progression in infantry training with its graduates heading on to jump school at Ft. Benning, GA and then onto Vietnam.  Anyway, that is how it was planned as it was open for business in 1967.

The best laid plans of government officials sometimes don't pan out as projected.  Camp Crocket is one of those.  Hence, it had a rather short life span.  Before the end of 1969 it was closed.

However, the place left a deep impression on most of the young men who spent 8-10 weeks there.  It was not a success according to forums I have read from older men now who express the imprint Camp Crocket had on them.  

To read one man's remembrance of Crocket, click HERE Thanks to George Hoffman for his 1994 recount of his memories.

Permission has been received from both Rodney Eng  and WRDW, CBS, Augusta, GA  to print these photos.


This overhead shot of Ft. Gordon today shows that it is a rather compact area. The fort was a very active place with many different purposes. 




Shown in this picture are the coordinates of Camp Crocket as it looks today.   Apparently, all the trees and shrubs which had overgrown it for over 40 years have been removed. 

Count all of the concrete pads that remain intact and you should get 25. According to Sonny Hoffman, there once were 122 Quonset huts at Camp Crocket.



This is an expanded view of Crocket and its location beside Bishop Road and near Range  Road.  Across from Bishop Road is Leitner Pond where many morning and evening routines were conducted. 


Lake Leitner, the largest water lake, is a recreational area with boating, swimming and fishing. The irony is its closeness  to Camp Crocket where not  so much fun was had.

To view Lake Leitner from a kayak, click HERE.

 

Looking closely at this photo, you can see Ft. Gordon proper at the right and Camp Crocket at the lower left.  

It doesn't seem as though Crocket was that far into the boondocks, but you did not arrive there unless you intended to find it.


Photo by Lou Krieger; courtesy of  WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Pictures of the remaining concrete slabs were taken by Lou in October, 2010.


Photo by Lou Krieger; courtesy of WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Taken by Lou Krieger again in 2010, this area, once covered by trees and foliage, has now been cleared to show the northwest corner of Camp Crocket.


Photo by Lou Krieger; courtesy WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Drop back 47 years, and here in 1967 is a younger Lou Krieger standing in a sand road between columns of Quonset huts.

Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

Imagine the labor and varied skills needed to construct one of these Quonset huts.  This, apparently, is one of the first huts to be built in late 1967.  

If there were over 120 of these in Camp Crocket, they must have been put together in a very short period of time.  

Maybe someone in our comment section can clarify the process of building this camp.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

Shown here are guys performing the morning routines of shaving and cleaning up.  This was done, I believe, at a pond not too far on the other side of Bishop Road. 


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

This may be one of the few pictures ever taken of the mock POW camp built to somewhat emulate the experience of being captured. 

When our AIT signal corps group was given the opportunity, we intercepted a group of Signal Corps Officer Candidate trainees as they made their way through a forest.  

We were hiding out in a cemetery not far from a mock POW camp.  I wonder if this is the camp where we took the bound trainees in April of 1968. 



Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com


After a food riot, preparing chow became a difficult chore.  You can see here that conditions in this outdoor kitchen were less than super sanitary. Check out the cigarette.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

These four young trainees at Camp Crocket made a pact that they would all return from Vietnam.  This was a promise they made to one another in 1967.

Although they were broken up into different outfits once they got there, Rodney Eng (third from left) assures us that they all made it home.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

In December of 1967, this group of soon-to-be graduates of Camp Crocket paused for a picture in front of one of the many Quonset huts they helped build.


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

Again, in December of 1967, the platoon of which Rodney Eng was a member gathered in their dress uniforms.  A completed Quonset hut is shown behind them.  

Looking to the far left, we can get an idea of what life was really like with the outdoor latrines.

Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

Nearing the end of his 8 week infantry AIT training, Rodney has now become an E-5, hard stripe SGT.  

Interesting also is the Lyster bag hanging to the left.  


Photo from usmilitariaforum.com/forums

Any of us who have lived outdoors during bivouac are familiar with the concept of drinking water that was supposed to be potable.

Actually invented before WWI, the man's name who is given credit had the last name of Lyster.  

As the years passed, the spelling of the name became Lister, thinking of the man, Joseph Lister who was responsible for antiseptic surgery.  Can't you just taste original Listerine?


Photo courtesy of Rodney Eng@campcrockett.blogspot.com

With gear all assembled in the road between columns of huts, Rodney and his classmates were ready to leave the confines of Camp Crocket.

Thanks to Kent Matheiu for photo-shopping this picture which is an important part of the story. 


And, finally, to hear Rodney himself, click HERE.


Photo courtesy of WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Camp Crocket had long been forgotten when word began to spread that Agent Orange (Monsanto and Dow Chemical) had been sprayed in areas of Ft. Gordon as well as over 20 other forts.  

The purpose of Agent Orange was to kill all vegetation in its path in order to expose the North Vietnamese along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.


Photo courtesy of WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

Television station WRDW in Augusta began a series of reports which showed the areas where Agent Orange was sprayed and the consequent destruction of the area circled here in orange.  

It was called a dead zone.  


 Photo courtesy of WRDW-News 12, CBS, Augusta, GA

After so many decades of not knowing, Lou Krieger lead the effort to get Ft. Gordon to acknowledge its use of Agent Orange during 1967. 

It just so happens that the area sprayed was near Camp Crocket and many of the soldiers exposed are experiencing many health issues. 




Here is Ft. Gordon's official statement regarding Agent Orange and its long-term effect on the areas sprayed.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Back To Shantzuhou, BOT Housing, Grass Mountain, Taipei, Taiwan

Buried in my inbox was a significant email. Peter Chang had written and attached pictures of the house he is renting from the Bank of Taiwan (BOT).

He is part of a growing group of Taiwanese whose wish is to preserve the 3 remaining areas of BOT housing in the Shantzuhou area of Grass Mountain. 

First, we will link the 3 areas as they were published on this blog. They will be followed by Peter's photos of his house.

To view the BOT "H"housing area, click HERE.

For a look at Shantzuhou's "C" housing, click HERE.

Now, for our final post, to take a look at Section "F" click HERE.


Photo courtesy of Scott Ellinger

A 1969 satellite photo was worked on by Scott, who singled out the existing BOT housing areas as well as several others.  

Our best wishes to Peter and his wife, Mickey in their efforts to keep Section F and all other Shantzehou housing from being demolished.  


All photos from here until the end of the post were taken by Peter Chang and were given to this blog by him. 

From a Google image, the area of F Housing where Peter's house is located is indicated by the red circle. 



Peter's house is the only one we have ever encountered where the Bank of Taiwan actually rents a home to a private citizen. 






All the bank requires is that the house and grounds be well maintained.  As you can see from this picture, Peter has removed grass and weeds to prepare the surface for sod.




This is the same house as the one above with one outstanding difference.  Rolls or pieces of sod have been brought in and put into place.  A nice lawn does a lot for the looks of a home.




Another area has been cleared and is ready for beautification.  Houses in this section are the most neglected because of the tiled roofs and the location next to the Chinese Culture University.




Again, using the mailbox as a marker, you can see that this section has also been filled in with sod.  

Because of the heat and sun, sometimes regular grass seed does not hold up and special sod must be brought in to survive. 




Not to dwell on the grass surrounding the house, but this must be of great importance in order to rent this BOT "F" housing.  

Notice the above ground sprinkling system.  Water in this area was rationed when we lived near here in 1968-69. 








The back yard is flourishing thanks to the sprinkling heads that are on poles to the right of the house. 







As with most homes that were built by the BOT in the 1950s, this one also has a carport which protects the finish of a car from brutal rays of the sun. 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Goodbye, Bonnie Beauty Salon; Taipei, Taiwan

This picture below has been posted before, but now it means even more since the northeast corner of Chung Shan North Road and Min Chuan East Road is shown.  

We took this picture in 1969 because there was a motorcycle accident in front of the bank.  Also shown is the Northwest Orient office on the corner and Bonnie Beauty Salon at the far left.  

The buildings in this area stood for over 40 years after the Vietnam War.  


Crowds gathered quickly back then and accidents like this one were far too frequent.

This picture was taken before the accident photo above.  Bonnie's place is on the left. 

It was a full service salon with manicure, pedicure, wigs and all the usual salon services provided by the friendly staff of males and females. 

They treated their American customers particularly well.


Pacific Stars and Stripes Sept. 1, 1969
As you can see, Mrs. Bonnie S. Ko was a one-stop business for all hair or hairless issues.  

Photo courtesy of Marvin Faulkner

Taken in 1968-69, this shot shows the entire area leading to the beauty salon and the Northwest Orient office on the corner.




Throughout the years, as has been said, this corner may have changed businesses, but the buildings stayed the same.

In fact, Starbucks has moved into the former Northwest Orient building.  The big change was inevitable since the buildings were so old and Taipei was becoming so modern. 

Photo courtesy of Kent Mathieu  

Everything behind Starbucks has come down with taller and stronger buildings on the way.

Photo courtesy of Kent Mathieu  

Fortunately for this blog, my friend Kent Mathieu is a frequent visitor to Taipei. 

He knows how much time we spent back in the late 60s and early 70s roaming around this intersection.  Thanks to Kent for keeping us consistently updated.


Photo courtesy of Kent Mathieu

This building behind Starbucks was being erected last year.  It is now enclosed, and we have a few more photos to show the update in this area in October of 2014.
 
Photo courtesy of Kent Mathieu

All buildings facing Chung Shan behind the barrier have been leveled.  The building in the previous picture can be seen in the distance.  

A covered walkway on the right should give some protection to pedestrians who are going to be walking directly beside the construction.   

Photo courtesy of Kent Mathieu

Taken from the west side of Chung Shan, the area affected by the construction can be clearly shown. 


Photo courtesy of Kent Mathieu

It looks as though the continued presence of Starbucks may be the last point of reference on this corner.  

Notice the Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank directly across the street.  It, of course, was once the Majestic Mansion Hotel. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Gold Mountain

When looking at the previous post, those of us who are interested found that Gold Mountain is still in the same location as it was in the 1960s.  

Gary Roske tried to get closer to it, but was turned away by Army guards.  

A call went out from this blog to ask for help in finding the location of the tower in Gary's two pictures.  


To the rescue came Victor W. Cheng, who has been a follower of this blog since its inception in August of 2010. 


From the 1973 overhead photo of Grass Mountain, Victor was able to find the exact location of Gold Mountain.  

Just as I had been way off on the location of Grass Mountain, it took Victor's skill to home in on the place.  It is south and east of the Grass Mountain complex. 

  
All these years, my assumption was that it was north and east of Grass Mountain.  

Now, it makes much more sense as to why the operators at the Gold Mountain JOSS (Joint Overseas Switching System) lived and ate at the Grass Mountain barracks.  




Photo courtesy of Kent Mathiieu

Here again is the 1973 overhead photo of Grass Mountain with Mandarin characters written on it. 

An overhead shot of the Grass Mountain station shows the coordinates and the much improved road system around it.  



Photo courtesy of Victor W. Cheng

Also from 1973, you can see the Grass Mountain station in the upper left corner of this picture and the Gold Mountain relay at the lower right. 





Using the same photo as the one above, we have drawn a large marker on the road south of the Grass Mountain gate to the Gold Mountain building which is circled. 



Photo courtesy of Victor W. Cheng

This current photo indicates the relationship of both the Grass and Gold Mountain complexes. 

Just in case you missed the circled Gold Mountain station in the picture above, here it is again.










Photo courtesy of Victor W. Cheng


A zoomed in photo of Gold Mountain shows the facility more clearly.




Photo courtesy of Victor W. Cheng


To provide a modern day closeup of Gold Mountain, Victor has sent this picture.  Now you can see the tower that Gary Roske had shown in the two pictures of the previous post.




The official coordinates of Gold Mountain

The unofficial coordinates of the entire Gold Mountain area