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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

We Laughed, We Cried, We Drank, We Didn't Re-Enlist: Taipei, Taiwan, 1969

Near the end of our 15 month standard tour of duty in Taiwan, we had to talk with the recruiter in case we  wanted to re-enlist for another go around, this time as Regular Army.

Honestly , my thoughts turned to staying in the Army and going to OCS school. I had talked with some officers who were thinking of making a career with the Army.


So, we filtered into the Signal Compound, east of the Commissary Compound. To his credit, the recruiting sergeant (E8) MSG respectfully went through the process of explaining re-enlisting. 


He knew the drill and may have been looking forward to his 20th year. So, to the Grass Mountain Hostel, with its graffitti filled walls we eventually gathered.




This again is the list of the sixteen of us who served their fifteen months in Taiwan.  Thinking back, a couple of them extended, but most of us left on a military contract flight with Northwest Orient on September 1, 1969.



There were advantages to us who worked the Taipei Terminal station.  One of them was proximity to the bulletin board where messages such as this became my property after a short length of time.  


I actually talked this guy who signed the form.  He lived in our apartment complex with his wife.  He had been a teacher, but indicated to me that remaining in the Army was financially more beneficial than teaching.  

Considering the subject matter, it is easy to see how short notes like this always reminded us how picky the military could be.  Check out his title.



This was the new military pay scale as it was revised in July of 1969. Including overseas pay, it was more than adequate for the single guys.



That is  Andy with his back to us. He was simply the best in every sense of the word. We all probably miss being around him, our leader and catalyst.


Photo by L. Andrew Savin


The guy holding the Schlitz bottle wasn't too jovial as word had not yet come down about the legal status of the incident where  he struck a woman with his car. THUMP!


Photo by L. Andrew Savin
As the crowd got smaller, things got a little raucous.  Who cared? We were "short!"


Photo by L. Andrew Savin



This would be about one week before we left Taiwan.  Most of the original sixteen who arrived in June of 1968 are pictured here. 
                                               




Friday, January 10, 2014

The Grass Mountain Teen Club, Taipei, Taiwan

First, thanks to Rory O'Neil for his interest in many of this blog's posts. If it weren't for his initiative and determined effort, you good folks would not be reading this posting.

In addition, our appreciation goes to Tracy Kelley and Richard Longacre for information and pictures used in this post.

There is a Facebook page where many former military dependents and other residents of the area on Grass Mountain known as Shantzehou  get together online to discuss their memories of their lives in Taiwan. 

Starting in the early 1950s, The Bank of Taiwan began building on its land, many different types of Western style-housing  to accommodate the growing number of American  military families.

The historical significance of the Korean War on Taiwan can't be understated. From what I understand, the U. S.was about ready to cut loose ties with Chiang Kai-Shek after WWII proved his inability to lead all of China.

The Korean War proved that Taiwan  was of strategical importance in the Far East which led to the building up of the ports and air bases. Here came the Americans!



Photo courtesy of Don Wiggins@USTDC.blogspot.com
 Don has a Taiwanese contact who checks frequently for declassified pictures. This is a 1969 satellite photo showing our housing areas as well as much of Yangmingshan. Don also has a Facebook page where he moderates a Taiwan discussion group.

Then, Army Lieutenant Colonel, Scott Ellinger used his super-sophisticated software to point out the  Shantzehou housing areas as well as other landmarks, including my work station.


Photo courtesy of Scott Ellinger
This 1974 satellite photo shows the village in a much tighter picture.  The area where my wife and I lived is at the top of the photo with the light blue line indicating the main road through the village.  

The dark blue line is the main road to the Grass/Gold Mountain work sites on Jingshan Road.  For months I had thought it was the back road, but after following it from McDonald's on up, it made sense when Scott Ellinger pointed out the site.

The green line would be the street you men and women took to get to the Grass Mountain theater and snack bar/bowling alley.  There have been discussions of how many lanes there were and it ranges from one to three.  


We have no pictures of either building, but a contributor said his apartment was just a few steps from the theater.  Were there actually movies shown there on Saturday mornings? If any of you have pictures of these two buildings, we'd love to have a jpeg copy.

The red line is the back road to the complex and runs directly through "H" housing.  



Original PowerPoint courtesy of Scott Ellinger



So, here is the "H" housing area, the only one of the five areas most of us in the Signal Corps ever drove through. Some couples lived in apartment complexes near there.

in 1968, the white houses were very attractive, but the landscape looked like Mars. LTC Ellinger indicates the "then and now" pictures, showing these lovely homes in a mature neighborhood.




Circled is our third floor apartment on Daheng Road, not far from, "F" housing.  Rent was $70.00 per month. At that time, development was just beginning for individual homes.



LTC Elllinger talked his way past the gate guard and took the photo on the left. As you'll notice, he then placed his picture beside the one we took in 1968. Not much of a change, eh?

This picture was taken one morning in 1969 showing the front gate entrance to the Grass Mountain complex.


Photo courtesy of Gary and Amy Roske
During a trip back home in 2010, Amy Roske got as close as she could and took a picture of the front gate of the still-functioning work and barracks center. My good friend Gary sent us his wife's photo.
Photo courtesy of Larry Barton
It's still hard to believe, but the publication of this picture set off a chain reaction of research which still is adding links.

Larry had just crossed the road from his apartment in order to take a picture of the snow covered mountain in the distance.  

This was the winter of 1967.  It was by accident that he also included the partial photo of the Grass Mountain Teen Center sign.  


Scott Ellinger then began calculating where he thought Larry's picture had been taken.  


Scott's PowerPoint circled the building as it appears today.  We now knew for certain the location of the old Teen Club.  
                                                                     

Outlined in yellow is the original Grass Mountain Teen Club.  Someone had purchased it after 1979 and converted it into a spacious villa.  
                                                                     
Photo by Richard Longacre; submitted by Rory O'Neil

So, this is the Grass Mountain Teen Club as it appeared in 1970.  Gems like this are hard to come by and we appreciate Richard's generosity.  John, the nightwatchman, is shown here performing his duties.


Telephone book courtesy of Scott Ellinger

This phone book was purchased on eBay in order to show the increased military presence during the initial build up of troops oversees during the Vietnam War.  The various sections of Taipei are shown which should show an increasing population.  


The BOT housing areas along with their addresses and phone numbers are shown.  



Also included at the beginning of the Shantzohou section are the phone numbers for the movie theater, snack bar, as well as the phone number which was listed as the Teenage Club.


This is just a continuation of the names and addresses of the folks who lived in one of the four BOT housing areas. 


The purpose of this page is to show the non-existence of any military facilities in the Yamingshan area such as Grass Mountain, Gold Mountain, and other military related structures.  



By 1967, all of these sites mentioned above would have been included in the phone book under Yamingshan.


These pictures below are of the Grass Mountain Teen Club as submitted by Rory O'Neil.  Any other submitter will be indicated.  




The Sargent-At-Arms with the white handled cap gun restrains the eager teenagers. 


Beneath this sign passed many fine young men and women.


Notice the Jimi Hendrix poster on the right.


Any clues on this one?


Families attended the annual Halloween party.


The snack bar area was well equipped.


In the background are several pinball machines.  My folks would have found me here every day.


Your order please?


Add your own caption.


This is the old alley you folks would have taken to reach the movie theater and snack bar across the street.

Map courtesy of Kent Mathieu@taipeiairstation.blogspot.com

If the Taiwan government and Bank of Taiwan completed the renovations, all buildings shown in red would now be housing students from Mainland China.  

The H housing area is being conveted by the Taipei European School for expansion of its athletic facilities and classrooms. 


This is what remains or has taken the place of the old E Housing area on the east side of the main road.  It is the training center for the Bank of Taiwan.  


This is how the entrance to the center looks from the road.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

And While You're At It, Clark, Get Yourself Somethin' REALLY Nice

If you have never seen "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" then this article below might  lead you to think that I'm a terrible cynic. This couldn't be further from the truth. I'm just a sometimes cynic.

So, please watch this clip where Cousin Eddie, Clark Griswold's penniless brother-in-law, responds when Clark volunteers to buy presents for Eddie's family. Just click HERE.

Regardless, we are a very compassionate society. Most of us realize there are people out there leading lives they never dreamed could end up so hopeless and desperate, if only for a short period of time. They need help and we are there to help them. Americans are a giving people.

At this time of year folks give food to many worthy organizations in hopes that families in need can have an excellently prepared dinner. TV stations show the preparers and recipients at a church, auditorium or some other facility. Everyone seems content and proud.especially the TV anchors.

Children especially don't know what hit them as their families are emotionally and financially clobbered by a disease, injury or other catastrophe resulting in an understandable state of confusion.. For them we provide gifts and other comforts.

Yes, we end up feeling good about ourselves and our wonderful spirit of giving. So, to show Eddie again, maybe we can provide for others throughout the year.That's the main point of this post. Again, just click THIS

So, here is the newspaper story as it appeared one day recently. Each day there is a new story published on the front page for a couple of weeks until the 25th of December.


Mansfield News Journal  December 14, 2013

Does anyone else find this unusual that these requests seem a little too specific?  Your comments are welcome.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Is This The End Of The King's Hotel, King's Club And 77 Club Buildings In Taipei?

When I took the first two pictures shown on this post, it was near the end of August, 1969.  It was simply some shots of places we had stayed and clubs where servicemen hung out.

Kent Mathieu, fellow blogger and good friend, has again supplied me with pictures of the first two buildings as they look today.

I was surprised three years ago when this part of the Golden Intersection was still standing. You will see that the buildings continue to deteriorate and may soon become a victim of the wrecking ball.

Thanks to Kent who will certainly keep us updated as to the future of this area. 



If ever there was a landmark that everyone knew, it was the King's Hotel at the southwest corner of Chung Shan North Road and Min Chuan Roads.  

In the distance, stands the newly completed Central Hotel with the rotating restaurant at the top, shaped like a flying saucer.

There were four other hotels that would open up in about one year or less.  Goodbye to the King's Hotel and hello to a bridal palace.   



Directly west of the King's Hotel is a large building which contained the King's Club, 77 Club and an iron worker's shop.

Close to this area was the Pink Bar and Monte Carlo Club.  Foot traffic in this area was heavy.  


Taken in 2013 by Kent Mathieu, the King's Hotel is now The Best Store where all facets of bridal decor can be purchased.

This building, plus others in the area, are all wedding related.  Surprisingly, the old OK Bar and the Suzie Wong Bar sites are included in the bridal complex.  Kind of ironic, isn't it?  


Looking back and forth from this picture to the old King's Club picture and the other picture, this business with the black Chinese characters on the white background was the King's Club in 1968-1971 at least.  

Guys from the Linkou Navy would know for sure.

This is a shot Kent took from the sidewalk looking directly
to the top of the 77 Club building.

The yellow building at the far right of this picture housed the Pink Bar.




Kent took this from the alley at the end of the building containing all the clubs and iron works.  

This is looking directly east from the corner of the alley toward the intersection and the Shanghai Savings Bank on the southeast corner which was once the Majestic Hotel. 

Finally, from the same area as the above picture, Kent took this shot diagonally across the intersection to the Starbucks on the northeast corner of the intersection.  

This building was the Northwest Orient Airlines office in 1969.  


Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Long Overdue Post For A USASTRATCOM Alum

Months ago, Charles Gove sent  us some pictures of his days in Taiwan. Charles saw much more of the island than many of us since he was stationed at Taichung from 1963-64 and then was under the USASTRATCOM command in Taipei where he worked at Seven Star microwave relay from 1964-65.  

Recently, Chuck sent updates to the picture captions, but that is secondary to the fact that he took the time to scan and send these pictures to us.  For that, we thank you, Chuck!  All photos shown belong to Charles Gove who gave us permission to publish them.  




This is the enlisted men's club in Taichung.  What the Club 36 stands for was not explained. It might be a simple reversal of the Club 63 numbers in Taipei. 

Clubs for officers and enlisted men seemed to have appeared shortly after servicemen arrived in an area.  There was even one on Matsui when Tom Jones was there in 1958.  

This is a neat banner from MAAG recognizing Charles for his service in Taichung.    





Many servicemen bought motorcycles while in Taiwan and many of them shipped them back home.  Above, Chuck is shown on his 1954 Triumph Spitfire with a screaming 650cc engine.  

He bought from an ASA member who used the money to buy a new BSA.  


Just like many other enlisted personnel, Chuck "volunteered" at an officers' club baseball game. 

 I am sure they fully appreciated his time and effort.  


The two guys on the right were leaving Taiwan.  The guy in the middle is Ron who worked at the USACC site just south of the Grass Mountain Hostel.  



This is the inside of the microwave site at Ming Chin.  Microwaves were sent to a site just north of Taichung and south to Chiayi.