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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Grass Mountain Taipei, Taiwan, 1974

For this post, we have our friend, Kent Mathieu to thank.  First, he sent us two photos taken by George Lane who was part of USASTRACTOM and USACC in 1974.   

George Lane furnished Kent with pictures he had taken which were posted on on 01/25/2012 and 02/01/2012. 

The pictures shown on TAS were of Taipei and the surrounding area.  The two photos here are of the Grass Mountain complex as it appeared in 1974. 

Once again, thanks to Kent for Photoshopping all four pictures.  This includes the two pictures of mine from 1969. 

The following is George Lane's explanation as to why they were TDY from Ft. Huachuca, AZ.

The details of what was wrong may be over most of our heads, but the last paragraph should explain the irony and might even produce a smile. 


Yes, we were making a survey, but of the electromagnetic variety.  We were looking for leaking FR signals being emitted from the Communications Center. 

One of the reasons we had been dispatched from Ft. Huachuca is that the guys at the Grass Mountain site were reporting that the unused super groups on the transmissions coming in from the undersea cable from Okinawa had illegal traffic on them in a foreign language which even the Taiwanese workers could not understand. 

During our month on Okinawa, we found that the cables from the Communication Center in Futenma were not properly shielded when the signals were sent from the Communications Center to the nearby microwave tower. 

It turns out that the cable length run was exactly a half wave length of the AM radio Station in Naha.  As a result, the ground wave AM Signal was being picked by the cable and then sent to the microwave transmitters where it was modulated into the super groups. 

The signal was then sent via the undersea cable to Taiwan!  So the illegal entry into our secure communications system was our own fault and not the enemy.  "Chris" Christensen shown in some of my photos was a great engineer and a good friend.

This was a picture taken in 1969 of the main buildings in the Grass Mountain work station. The basketball court is still there. 

Photo courtesy of George Lane

Taken in 1974, this picture of the complex shows a really vivid green paint job on a very bright and sunny day. 

By this time, civilians were operating Seven Star Microwave and the American presence in Taiwan was decreasing rapidly due to the impending end of the Vietnam War. 

Kent did a nice job of making these 1969 photos as good as they can possibly look.  What you see here is the combination mess hall and day room with the road leading to the back gate.

By 1974, a new road had been constructed which lead to a different exit from the one we used.

Also, it appears that gear from the main building may be loading into these white trucks on the right. 

 Here is the entire Grass Mountain complex as it looks today.  Try entering the coordinates into Google Earth. 

Then, drag Oscar over for a Street View of the front gate and other parts of the work station.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hokey Smoke, Bullwinkle!

Here is another Chris Snyder story from the MAAG Compound in the 1972-74 time period. 

Obviously, the WACs with whom he worked had a sense of humor. Most military installations had practical jokes, initial "welcome to" rites and rituals and anything else which brought laughter at another's expense.

Mine came one midnight shift while manning the Taipei Terminal Station (RUAGST) . We hadn't gotten the computer yet, so the machinery was chattering away with messages constantly being sent and received at 100 wpm.

Then a message arrived at the Terminal that looked quite official. It contained orders for others and myself to report to the Signal Compound immediately. We were to receive cold weather gear and be reassigned to Korea.

I was stunned and looked up eventually to see guys out on the floor, behind the send banks, howling, stomping their feet and bending over double laughing.

My reaction met with their approval, and now, I was one of the guys.

Most of us can probably relate to the man in the following story.


A Taiwan telephone tech had the doors off the back of the operator's position patch panel which had lots of wires going to all of the patch panel jacks. 

He had the bundles of wires pushed apart to give him room to replace a jack.  He went into the panel head first with a soldering iron to get to the wiring. 

Again, I was working with the WAC when she called me over and told me to watch the telephone tech. 

She went around into the operator's side of the patch panel and blew smoke through the holes. 

The tech rapidly backed out of his cave thinking he had just shorted out everything! 

It was very amusing to all of us except him. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One Little Girl's Memories of Taipei, 1967

When you think of being deployed to Taiwan, don't you usually think of a serviceman or woman?  Debbie Jones was the dependent of an Air Force family and her views of Taipei are quite different than those of us who were in our late teens and twenties. 

From what I have read, going to school was an exercise in self-reliance, adjusting quickly and making friends for military dependents. 

Photo by Les Duffin:  Courtesy of

Fortunately for us, Debbie found this picture of the Oasis Hotel where she and her family lived until their quarters in Tien Mou were ready. 

Photo courtesy of Debra Jones

If this doesn't bring back memories to the many thousands who have attended a school in a foreign country, then nothing will.  

This picture is from 1967 and, as you can see, TAS was welcoming a new batch of first graders.  Debbie is sitting in the second row, second person from the right.  Cute, isn't she? 

Taipei American School is still located in Tien Mou (Tianmu).  Now it is located on Zhongshan North Road, Section 6, in the ShiLin District of Taipei. 

A well-known baseball field can be easily seen from this overhead shot. 

With the campus of about 15 acres, the school is very modern and accommodates students from K-12. 

This is the entrance along Zhongshan North Road.  Notice the Taiwan flag.  Directly across the street is the Taipei Japanese School.  In Grass Mountain is the Taipei European School. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is This My Girlfriend?

All of us have our stories of our days in Taiwan. Some can even be repeated. This is one of those.

Chris Snyder contributed the pictures for the 12/31/2011 post. By then the Taipei Military Telephone Exchange had moved from the Sugar Building across from Haggler's Row to the MAAG Compound where he worked from 1972-74.


The military switchboard was staffed by two or more Chinese Nationals around the clock every day.  The switchboard was for official use only which was enforced during the day.  During the night shift, however, the locals would patch their friends' phone calls to other places in Taiwan. 

This was to avoid a long distance charge on the local system.  I had a WAC on my shift who was running the tech control one night.  She called me over and asked me to check out what she was doing. 

The switchboard circuits were 4 wire circuits.  She found a boyfriend talking to his girlfriend on one patch and another boy talking to his girl on another patch. 

Then, the WAC cross patched the couples.  I could not believe how long the wrong couples talked until they realized they were talking to a stranger! 

After they finally caught on, she pulled down the patches and reunited the two original couples.  That gave them even more to talk about! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Grass Mountain Microwave, 1967-68, Taipei, Taiwan

 With this contribution to the blog by former USASTRATCOM alum, Larry Barton, we are now beginning to reach more and more of our initial target group.  Larry is the fourth microwave technician to contact us.

Larry and his wife were teenagers when they not only lived in an apartment on Grass Mountain, but also began their family there.  As in the case of many service families, their first child was "Made in Taiwan."

This posting should have been on the blog much sooner, but a few of Larry's pictures resulted in some research by regular contributors to the blog. 

Here is Larry outside his apartment in Yangmingshan. 

When one door closes, another often opens.

Here is the apartment building where the Bartons resided.  Living there without a car made them dependent on buses and cabs to get up and down the mountain.  

This apartment and other apartment buildings where Americans lived was close not only to the main highway, but also the Grass Mountain Theater and Smiley's Grille/Bowling Alley. 

My guess is that their apartment, as well as other apartment buildings, was quite near the Subway Restaurant of today. 

If anyone recognizes this serviceman and his family, please leave a comment or drop us an e-mail.  They lived near the Bartons, but the name has been forgotten. 

School buses made their way crisscrossing the Bank of Taiwan (BOT) housing areas in Grass Mountain as well as other areas near there where service families lived.  The unpaved road was the norm. 

Taipei American School was the destination. Children from non-military families often went to TAS as well. When we lived there, the school buses were stored in the rear area of the West Compound.

This was not a scheduled stop.  With so many buses overloaded and underserviced, it is surprising that there weren't more wrecks not only in Taipei, but in the areas surrounding it. 

Article from Pacific Stars and Stripes, 1969

The right side was chopped off, but the intent is clear.

This is the photo which sent several folks into the "then and now" mode of trying to figure out where on the Yangmingshan Road this picture was taken. 

The purpose of this picture when originally taken was to show the snow on the mountain tops in the winter of 1967-68.  What caught our attention was the sign at the left. 

Of importance also, to me, is the name of the street sign that cannot be seen clearly. 

Photo by and courtesy of Larry Barton

This side-by-side picture is a result of Larry going up on Google Earth Street View and estimating where the sign was in relation to Grass Mountain today. 

The McDonald's on the right is almost next to the road that took us to the Grass Mountain work complex. 

Original PowerPoint page courtesy of Scott Ellinger

Army LTC Ellinger helped us out again by using his assumptions as to the location of the sign leading to the Grass Mountain Community Center and Teen Club. 

The building in the original photograph, he deduced, is now a Subway shop.  Its location is south of the main road to work

Original PowerPoint page courtesy of Scott Ellinger

This composite does not contradict Larry Barton's guess

Original PowerPoint page courtesy of Scott Ellinger

This is Scott Ellinger's idea of where the Grass Mountain Community Center once stood.

Notice how the Chinese Culture University's campus has expanded into this Section "C" Housing area. The college is also creeping northward into the Section "F" Housing area.

Satellite photo courtesy of Scott Ellinger


The light blue line on this 1974 satellite photo is the main road through the Yangmingshan village. 

The darker blue line is the road to the front (main) gate of the Grass Mountain complex.  It is called Jingshan Road.
The red line is the road leading to the back gate of the complex. It is Jianye Road.

Somewhere on the main drag, between the front and back roads is where the sign indicating where the Grass Mountain Community Center was located.  

The Bartons lived near the entrance to the back road close to Jianye Road.  

To give you some perspective, the blue and red lines, indicating the two roads are about 250 yards apart. 

Again, this was taken to show the mountain tops.  Does anyone recognize the buildings? 

This one of my favorite pictures as it was taken inside the front gate on the road leading to the main building at the site. 

You can see that the road inches upward as one approaches the parking area and the microwave tower.

If the Grass Mountain ROC Army guards ever have reunions, many stories of midnight and later arrivals by US troopers are probably told. 

This is a downtown bus stop that the Bartons used frequently.  Neither the building nor the approximate location is known.  Again, we could use some help.

Because of the buses, this might be the West Compound.  However, no one is certain. 

Finally, this is a great picture of the Florida Bakery which is still in the same location today as it was in 1967.  This picture was taken before 1968 as pedicabs were outlawed by then. 

This angle of the Florida Bakery is similar to the one above.  Notice that a 7-Eleven is on the very corner of Nongan Street and Zhongshan Road North.