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, December 10, 2012

Working In The Rice Paddies, 1957-58, Taipei, Taiwan

Chauffeured by ROC drivers, Tom Jones and his fellow Signal Corps detachment friends traveled west over a bridge to the area where they worked.

As you are about to see, their transmitter site was in the middle of a rice paddy. The signal from here was relayed to the Sugar Building in downtown Taipei. At that time, the Sugar Building was the hub of Taipei communications.

The transmitter site was connected to the Sugar Building using a Spiral-4 cable and a radio link with a bunch of multiplex channels. Now, that might mean something to the tech controllers and microwave men.

Haggler's Row had not been built yet, so to say that the Sugar Building was across from it on Chung Hua Road wouldn't have meant much back then.

But saying that the Sugar Building was next to the First Company Limited might give a better idea of its location.

During the Vietnam War, the Sugar Building was headquarters for the Taipei Military Telephone Exchange.  Plunk in a $1 NT coin in a public phone, dial the exchange number, and a female with a Chinese accent would say, "Taipei Military."  You would then ask her to connect you with any military site in Taipei.  
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This was a pretty well built troop transporter.  It is a heavy duty vehicle compared to the Ford vans that we wore out. 

Behind the vehicle is what appears to be the future headquarters of USASTRATCOM in the Signal Compound east of the commercial compound which contained the theater, PX and Commissary. 
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This ROC Army driver was responsible for transporting the Signal Corps Detachment to its work site west of downtown Taipei.

Tom indicated that this was a 3/4 ton truck. We found most drivers to be competent, if not spectacular. Get me there; bring me home.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Taken from a plane above, this picture shows the Taipei Bridge crossing the Tamsui River. The road on the right approaching the bridge is Min Chuan (Minquan) West Road. 

The area west of the bridge still was not highly developed 10 years later when our groups arrived. Today it is somewhat built up, but it remains isolated after a few miles.

Civilians had to pay a toll to cross this bridge. On the other side, our destination was the Toyota garage. It was strictly repair and maintain. No cars were being sold in Taiwan yet. Ours came from Japan via Keelung.

This is Taipei Bridge today. As you will see, it's no longer a two-lane crossing.

With a separate lane on each side for 2-wheeled vehicles and pedestrians, the bridge widens to 3 lanes maximum on each side of the double line.

Take your pick of roads to exit onto. In 1968, there was one major road on the other side to follow.

Imagine the emotions of Tom and his friends going to work the first day.

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Shown here is an AN/GRC-26 2 1/2 ton radio truck with PE-95 10KW generator trailers to power the radio.

I googled this truck and generators and this one was really heavy duty. A Signal Corps museum in Ft. Gordon, Georgia contains much of this equipment. 
Photo Courtesy of Tom Jones

From this and the previous pictures, you can see why the Army communications unit was to become the USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones 

In the background is the transmitter building.
Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Inside the power building were five 60KW diesel generators.  These were later replaced by a really big diesel unit after Tom left the island. 

 Do you get the feeling that Con Ed didn't service this area?

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

Another photo taken inside the transmitter building

Photo courtesy of Tom Jones

This picture is out of sequence. It was taken later in his Taiwan tour of duty when Tom was in Matsu.

It's included here as Tom is shown repairing a Kleinschmidt teletypewriter, which took patience, knowledge, parts, and luck. We are all fortunate that Tom framed his pictures better than his friends did.
Photo by Earl Axe; courtesy of

The blue arrow points to the famous Sugar Building near Chung Hua Road around 1970. Not only was the Taipei Military Telephone Exchange inside it, but so was AFNT, AM-1560. FM-100.1 was not active in 1958.  It was online at a later date. 

The actual street the Sugar Building was on is Hankou Street. The facility was moved to Grass Mountain in 1968. From comments on other posts, the site of the new building was near the movie theater and snack bar/bowling alley.

Taken from an area near Ximending, the Sugar Building can be seen in the distance.

When we arrived in  June of 1968, AFNT stood for Armed Forces Network Taiwan. Later it was changed to American Forces Network Taiwan as part of the AFRTS.

Photo courtesy of George Lane

Looking to the left of the First Company, you can really see a fine picture of the Sugar Building.


  1. Hiya! Do you happen to own any journalism skills or this is a completely natural talent? Can't wait to see your reply.

  2. Roberto----
    I'm just an old retired high school teacher with a lot of time on my hands and a deep interest in the country in which we once served.
    Thanks for the compliment. I don't take them easily as I tend to be my own worst critic. VWC would attest to that!
    Thanks for dropping by . . .

  3. Brings back lots of good memories...was there at the Transmitter Site during 1959-1962, arrived when it was called ACAN, then STARCOM and left at STRATCOM. Spent some time on Kinman flying there on C46's. Also, was fortunate to set up commo for President Eisenhower when he visited Chaing Kai Shek,. BTW that AFRT xmitter was at the transmitter site. Up a ways was the receiver site at Linkou. I may have still have my name tag somewhere. It use to have the Maag emblem next to our name but we had to black it out in 1960. Very excellent info.

  4. I'm wondering when exactly AFNT relocated to the white bunker looking building on Grass Mountain.

    Scott Jenkins-AFNT 1975-1978