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.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Last Guy Out, Please Turn Off The Lights

There were always some special soldiers you would meet during your time in Taiwan. For me there were many. Unfortunately, for us, Bill Kling hadn't arrived yet.

We didn't know much about Taiwan's history before we arrived. In fact, most of us just felt fortunate in being assigned to Taipei.

That being said, the prevailing sentiment seemed to be that we would seriously do our job, never purposely let anyone down, and head for CONUS as soon as our tour was over.

Of course, others would follow. We were in Taiwan during the peak of the Vietnam War. What would happen to the place in the following years was not a big concern to most of us, I imagine.

It was a big concern for men like Bill Kling and thousands of others who experienced the mothballing of tons and tons of equipment and the gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces and equipment from Taiwan. By then, Stratcom was on the way out and USACC took over the mission.

In addition, American service people had to deal with the October 25,1971 United Nations recognition of Communist China (PRC) as the representative to the United Nations. The United States officially recognized the PRC on January 1, 1979. Relations with Taiwan became strained.

Many of Bill's thoughts on his experiences in Southeast Asia during the 1970's can be read on Don Wiggins'

Specifically, you might want to read the posts on February 17, 2008; March 4, 2008; February 17, 2009; February 20, 2010 and March 18, 2010. You'll be surprised at what went on in Taiwan.

As part of his tour, Bill spent time on the Grass Mountain facility as well as much of downtown Taipei. He sent a very interesting e-mail in September of 2010 after this blog got started.

With Bill's permission, we will be including some of his thoughts on his experiences. He is being too modest on what he accomplished.

I also worked in Tech Control in Phu Lam (South Vietnam).  As a tech controller who worked at Grass Mountain from 1973-75 and again from January 1977-March 1979, your blog taught me some things, reminded me of others, and gave me a good reference to compare "then and now" type pictures. 

Also, while there, I had to prepare a daily report and send it to DCA PAC daily by making a tape.  I never realized that once tape was a big deal.  By the way, on my first day I was sent around the site by trick chief to find a Chad Counter!

First of all, I got there in May of 1973 and never knew there was a tape relay on the Grass Mountain site.  A friend, Nolan Briggs, got on site in March 1972 and said it had just been taken out before he arrived. I was trying to figure where the equipment was and the only place I picture was opposite the DC section (TTY orderwires) back against the wall?

I wonder if you knew Joe Peredo, Ed Templeman, or Tom Lassek... all controllers there during the early 1970s. 

During my time there, the doors to your barracks were locked.  There was no day room, nor was there a barber.  Single guys lived in the hostel outside the (East) Compound where the PX was located. 

The Mess (on Grass Mountain) was run by a guy named Wong with a waiter named Jones. It seems we all ate breakfast of noodles, fried rice and apple pie. We didn't like anything else. Unless you were on shift you didn't eat there.

Guys came to work by either driving or taking the shuttle from Stratcom HQ in the (East) Compound with a few stops in Tien Mou on the way up the hill.

We worked 4 days on and 3 days off until Vietnam was over in mid-1975.  We then worked 5 on and 2 off, with, of course, CQ duty thrown in once in awhile. 

Thinking back, there may have been a hostel on Grass Mountain (not at the site), but I don't think many guys stayed there as it was so far to downtown Taipei.  I had some married friends who lived in BOT housing on Grass Mountain. 

I didn't know there was a water purification station there.  I went to Tien Mou by the bowling alley, or the compound by TDC to get water. 

...forgot the basketball courts/tennis courts were there.....don't think we had any equipment....remember we used to get golf clubs from Special Services and go to Shu Linkou to play. 

Many of us took University of Maryland courses in Taipei either in the compound or at Taipei American School.  Actually I got my degree that way.

The radio station, AFNT, was on Grass Mountain.  We used to go down to the snack bar and then the radio station to hang out.  I don't think that was very far from your apartment. 

We had sports teams such as softball, bowling, etc. 

I also came to Taipei in January 1971 from Vietnam on R & R.  My last trip in 2003, I got to go past the (Grass Mountain) site, but was not allowed in.  Also visited what was left of Shu Linkou, TME, and MAAG HQ. 

The 63 Club is now the American a tour....much different from the one I remember.  I saw the new Taipei American is on the property in Tien Mou where I lived in BOT housing near the snack bar. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Beitou District, Taipei. Taiwan

Just like most of Taipei, Peitou has changed dramatically since our time there.

The name spelling has changed to Beitou, but that is not much at all compared to the physical appearance of the place.

The continuing expansion of the Taipei mass rapid transit system (MRT) has made Beitou a tourist destination accessible easily by using the MRT.

All the old hotels are gone and in their stead are modern buildings meant to accommodate many people in luxury. Even bears enjoy Beitou hotels. This is no joke. Click HERE.

A more modern map of Taipei County shows the relationship of Beitou to the rest of the area.
This map shows some of the MRT lines. It seems to be constantly changing and expanding since its initial construction which began in the 1990s. Beitou is circled at the top.
This version of the MRT map is inserted here for those who understand Mandarin.
Shown is an MRT train making its way through Taipei. Some of this mammoth architectural and construction giant is underground.

Other parts of it are at street level, while many of the lines are elevated.

This video is from an American couple riding the MRT to Beitou and visiting the hot springs. Click HERE.

The inside of an MRT car is as clean as the stations. For a video, click HERE. 
Here is the MRT line as it winds its way through Beitou to the stop.
We told you the area has changed.
Into the station it stops. To get an idea of the MRT arriving and departing Beitou, click HERE.
The Beitou branch of the Taipei Public Library is located near the middle of town. It is west of the old hotel district. To see a beautiful video of it, click HERE.
Here is the first of three sequential pictures. From here it looks like a fine building on the side of a hill.

Below it is a hot spring and commentary on this video. Click HERE.
This is the very famous Beitou Hot Springs. For a video of it, click HERE.
Today, there is a centrally located fountain in Beitou. It is unique and might even be soothing. It is controlled by a computer program. The video can be seen by clicking HERE.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Peitou Village, Taiwan

During our tour from 1968-69, Peitou had a legendary reputation. Almost everyone I knew had several stories to tell from personal accounts, or embellished ones that had been passed down.

The Japanese are to thank for the many hotels that were sometimes side-by-side. From the paperback booklet, whose front cover is shown, the author maintained that there were over 70 hotels there. Who would bother to count? Was the versatile Literary Inn among them?

There were two basic roads to take you there. One was from Tien Mou and the other was from the Grass Mountain hostel.

It's not illogical to assume that the Japanese, who built the hostel, would also have built the road from there to Peitou. It's a very scenic 30 minute drive.

Bought at one of the many bookstores south of the East Compound on Chung Shan North Road, this dandy little fountain of information will be used again in later posts.

The description of Peitou was right on the money back in the late 1960s.

YangTou Road was the scenic route to take to Peitou. The Grass Mountain hostel is at the top of this photo and our apartment complex is at the bottom.

Entering the village using this route made you think that Peitou was isolated up in the mountains. Kind of like Shangri-La.

Here is a very short list of some of the Hotels in Peitou and their addresses.

According to the hotel list on the previous page, this was the approximate location of the Metropole Hotel.

"C" in this photo is the current location of the new Spring City Resort. It is also the site of the old Paramount Hotel. The street name today is YouYa Road. In 1969, it was spelled Yu Ya Road.

1970 photo by S. Swallom, courtesy of

The Hotel Peitou was slightly west of the other hotels at that time.

Matchbook cover provided by 
 The size of the Hotel Peitou might have been exaggerated by its depiction.

1970 photo by S. Swallom; courtesy of

The New Life Hotel was located on one of Peitou's busiest streets.

Card provided by P. Birden; courtesy of

Notice the Peitou, Taiwan address.

This address would have been the location of the New Life Hotel.

The Hotel Sincere is one of the hotels mentioned in the booklet.
According to the address, it wasn't far from the New Life Hotel.

The Peitou (Beitou) Hot Springs Museum is one of the remaining old buildings standing  from our time in Taiwan.

This is actually a Christian Church in Peitou. My friend, Victor, indicates it is Roman Catholic.

Photo by S. Swallom; courtesy of

Many others will remember quite well this centrally located fountain in Peitou.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

McCauley Beach, Taipei, Taiwan, 1969

It was hard to believe that following the main road through Yangmingshan would lead to the beach. We drove there once just to make sure the road would take us there.

In the fall of 2010, someone posting their photos on Google Earth had followed the entire route from Taipei, up the mountain, past Yangmingshan, and all the way to what was McCauley Beach. Just follow all the little blue blocks.

Although neither of us is a sun person to any great degree, I insisted we go to the beach and  swim in the ocean. Once was enouugh. The place was practically deserted and my sunburn was one of the worst in my life. 

Back in 1969, this waterfall was no big deal. It was just a natural drop near the Grass Mountain Hostel. Now, it can be found in many Taiwan brochures. 
YangMing Road is just the new name for the road from Taipei through Yangmingshan.

Following Route 2 (With a Chinese character after it) would take you to McCauley Beach.
 Route 2 is also YangJin Road and it's hard to follow at times, but it persists. 

Here it glides past the hostel.
An intersection awaits. At the right is Chiang Kai Shek's summer complex. It used to be heavily guarded.

We could tell when he was there as all vehicles coming up the hill from Taipei were stopped and searched at night.

It is really a beautiful place and is a must-stop for Wangmingshan National Park visitors.

This gives you a view of the entire complex.
Turn left at the previously shown intersection. This sign welcomes you to the national park. 
YangJin Road begins after the left turn. At the left in this picture is the last section of the education complex.
Along the way was the Seven Star microwave compound.

Notice the spiffy side-view mirrors on the car's fenders.

Around the end of June, 1968, I was in downtown Taipei about 10 p.m. It was time to get back to the Grass Mountain barracks for work the next morning. I told the driver "Yangmingshan" and we ended up on the little road outside Seven Star.

Out came the ROC guard and, eventually a Stratcom soldier. Among the 4 of us, we came up with Grass Mountain as my original destination. Back in the taxi we two went and arrived at the front gate around 2 a.m.

Near Seven Star was this listening site. We didn't know whose it was-- U.S. or ROC.

Here's today's technology at a site about 1/2 mile south and east of our Grass Mountain site.
Somewhere out there is McCauley Beach.

Along the road was some kind of mine.
Here's the beach, and I was floored to see that it was segregated. In the summer of 1969, there was an old dark red snow fence which bisected the beach.

The sign at the beach entrance had an arrow pointed to the left. To paraphrase, it was for officers and civilians of equivalent rank.

The other arrow pointing to the right was for us enlisted folk and guests. The fence wobbled all the way down into the water.

By the time the Dawgflight guys from Shu Linkou AFB went there a year or so later, the snow fence was replaced with a more sturdy symbol.
And, we were all paid well.