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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bank Of Taiwan, H Housing, Shantzuhou, Taipei, Taiwan

LTC Scott Ellinger found the old Grass Mountain complex from the satellite photo that Don Wiggins had posted on his USTDC blog on September 15, 2010.

LTC Ellinger then enhanced the photo, posted on USTDC September 17, 2010, and showed the housing areas according to their designated alphabetic letter. All these housing areas were built in the 1950s and early 1960.

For those American families who lived in one of these 3 areas in Yangmingshan, it was known as "BOT" housing since the construction was financed through The Bank of Taiwan.

These neighborhoods could easily be seen 40 years ago, but only one, Section H, was accessible directly from the Grass Mountain site. The back road went directly through this neighborhood on ZhongYong Road.

It came to a halt at the intersection with YangDe Boulevard or GeZhi Road.  I'm not sure what it's called now as the main road changes names rather quickly.

So, here is H-Housing with the aid of Google Earth.

The H-Housing area is circled.

The back road from the Grass Mountain work station went right through the housing area.

At the lower left of this overhead can be seen about 20 H-Housing homes with the gray roofs. The neighborhood is in extremely good shape.

This would be the view entering H-Housing on Jianye Road.

In no particular order are some of the houses passed.

Back when a levy broke at the Taipei American School in 1968 or 1969, the driveways of these houses were full of textbooks, drying in the sun. 

One major feature of this housing area that hasn't changed since 1968 is the housing colors. They were white then and remain white today.

Continuing on down the road a tower is encountered. Who knows its purpose.

Comments on other blogs mentioned bomb shelters on the premises. I wonder if this is one of them.

This is the intersection off ZhongYong Road and JianYe Road. Turning right takes you to the next part of H-Housing.

A guard shack protects the remaining housing shown in these pictures.

Most of the houses on this street have white picket fences.

A nice little cul-de-sac with 3 houses branches off this street.

Back out on ZhongYong Road, we begin the climb up to the Grass Mountain work site.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gold Mountain, Taipei Taiwan

The main purpose of this blog was to make contact with men who had served in Taiwan during the Vietnam War. So far, only one person with whom I worked has been e-mailing.

Gary Roske worked as a Tech Controller on Grass and Gold Mountains for over 2 1/2 years. He has provided many pictures and is, I hope just the first USASTRATCOM person to contribute to this blog.
Living in Tien Mou, (Tianmu) Gary commuted to and from Yangmingshan. We worked right across from each other in the Grass Mountain complex, separated by a large glass partition. We didn't know each other then, but have become friends through correspondence.  

Here is Gary, along with the people he knew best--fellow Tech Controllers. I believe the guys at Gold Mountain had a lot of fun at work. All of these pictures were provided by Gary Roske.

Shown here, Gary is hard at work at his training facility at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. He finished there with 2 MOS certifications.

This would be the hard-working young man in the previous picture. Shaving, apparently, was part of his complicated road to graduation.
It all paid off as this diploma attests.

And here we find Gary, Rich, Dan and Tony in Japan awaiting the final leg to Taipei. 

Everyone I knew from STRATCOM bought one of these name badges. Gary's is in pristine shape. We all thought they were really cool. What our translated names meant wasn't as important as wearing this distinctive identification.

One of the Gold Mountain Joint Overseas Switchboards (JOSS)

Sp6 Whatanbe shown in front of some of the Gold Mountain Equipment

Staff Sergeant Henry Hankins at the audio board

SSGT Hankins and his children pose in Tien Mou. Don't you wonder when looking at these old pictures what everyone looks like today?
With no fear of heights, two young guys atop the Gold Mountain Tower
The story of this picture, as related by Gary, isn't the great-looking Honda, but rather the worst-ever sunburn he got that day! Many others who were out in the sun for extended periods could offer their own experiences with a Taiwan sunburn.  

All of us had best friends with whom we felt comfortable. Here, Dan DiThomas works on his 1956 Chevy. Many automobile parts were shipped overseas by friends or relatives to get or keep these fine machines running. Chicago's J.C. Whitney catalogs were used by servicemen to order specific parts.

There was a driving range near Taipei International Airport. Here, Gary takes a hack as Dan and Mary DiThomas await their turn. Dan must have gotten the Chevy running.

Kneeling, Gary and friend Jeff Blumberg work without directions putting a grill together. Nothing ever went wrong doing this, did it?

Now we see how exhausting assembling the grill was. It called for Gary and Jeff and Sue Blumberg to visit McCauley Beach.

SPC5 Gary Roske along with man's best friend at his Tien Mou residence

This might look familiar to some of you.It's the bus turnaround in Tien Mou.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Grass Mountain Complex Today, Taipei, Taiwan, 2010

First of all, my assumption was that the Grass Mountain work site had been demolished. My reports of its demise were greatly exaggerated.

Army Lt. Colonel Scott Ellinger downloaded the 1969 satellite photo from Don Wiggins' posting of September 15, 2010 on his ustdc.blogspot. 

He then performed some software magic on it and found Grass Mountain. Since he is a marathon runner, LTC Ellinger ran right past the place while training.

With that mea culpa, let's go back to Grass Mountain. You might want to check this blog's first post of August 3, 2010 for some idea of how the place looked in 1969.
Fortunately, Don Wiggins has a Taiwan contact who likes declassified photos. Otherwise, it would have taken some more inquires from folks in Taiwan to find the place.

Looking at this photo, President Chiang's summer retreat can be seen at the top. Also recognizable is DaHeng Road where our apartment was.

Somewhere east of the village are the Grass and Gold Mountain work sites. LTC Ellinger was able to find other areas which will be covered in future posts. Just click on the photo to enlarge it.

LTC Ellinger verified that the area circled in red was the Grass Mountain facility as it appeared in the satellite photo. The back road was certainly more serpentine as it began its descent down ZhongYong Road.

Original PowerPoint courtesy of S. Ellinger
This shows the coordinates of the Grass Mountain site. It's uncanny how close Scott was on guessing my position that morning in 1969 when my pictures were taken.

The footprint of the place hasn't changed much from then. There may have been an addition to the day room, but other than that the place is instantly recognizable.

Same picture as before, but with surrounding roads shown

Any doubts about whether this was the old site were erased when viewing this picture. There is a wall instead of a fence, but this is the Grass Mountain duty station.

Here's a shot looking out at the front gate in 1969.
Tennis, anyone?

Gary Roske, my only direct contact from our Stratcom days in Taiwan, sent this one. His wife, Amy, was recently in Taiwan and took this picture of the front gate entrance from the road overlooking the Grass Mountain complex.  Click to enlarge and see a very different entrance from the previous photo.

Looking back up the hill, you can easily see my vantage point in 1969. The basketball court is still there as well.

Everything around the perimeter then was overgrown. We could see the local farmers as they proceeded along their paths next to the fence.

The Chinese guards' barracks were not visible from the road back then due to the abundant vegetation. Another story may have been added, or the entire building might be new.
Looking straight down the hill from just across from the front gate, this picture is disconcerting to those of us familiar with the old road.

Here is a nice wide straight descent with a beautiful background. It was just a narrow clinging ribbon of a road in 1969.

The only missing piece of the puzzle is whether or not the Gold Mountain overseas switchboard is still standing.

Personally, I never saw the place, but know it was a short walk from the Grass Mountain front gate. Guys from Gold Mountain lived in the Grass Mountain barracks.

Click on the 1969 satellite image to see the 2 roads leading to the Grass Mountain site. The blue line is the road we used almost always and ends at the front gate.

The red line is the long and winding road from the back gate. It ended up in a residential neighborhood.

Showing the present road is the line which begins at JingShan Road.

The road to the back gate hasn't changed much in its path. It is now paved all the way down and is extremely narrow.

This view of  the Yangmingshan community was taken from the back road. The Chinese Culture College can be seen far in the distance.

Notice the narrow road winding its way down to an American housing area.
Here is a similar view as the previous picture. This one, however, scans a little south, picking up some more housing areas.
Further down the back road was a stone quarry. The condition of this road is very visible.