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.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Once An Officer, Always A Gentleman

A few months ago, a request was made to see if there was someone who knew how all the messages left and entered Taiwan. 

 When we were working in the teletype punched paper tape relay, we thought that everything entering and leaving Taiwan had to go through either the DCS major relay or NARC relay using 80 column computer cards at Grass Mountain. 

Our messages were sent and received from Clark AFB in the Philippines.

Well, it didn't take long for Tech Controllers and Microwave Techs to start explaining their jobs during the Vietnam War.  The men at USACC know the technology, but not all were around from 1965-72.

It became apparent that some messages were leaving the island and arriving in Taiwan by some other method than through our site at Seven Star. 

Then, a former Army officer sent a detailed "technical puzzle" which included the "whos, whys, whens and hows."  This cleared the way for an explanation of some of his duties. 

So, with former 2nd Lieutenant Robert W. Marwin's permission, I will attempt to copy many of his explanations.  

Our thanks to Bob for his time and effort. Now, if more of you men checked in with pictures and stories, who knows . . .


I am Bob Marwin and I got your link through a friend  I had in Taiwan, Dennis Mitcheltree.  I was the Page Communications System Engineer for the Phil-Tai-Oki System from around 1968 to 1970.  Harry Oi was the Civilian Contract Administrator at Grass Mountain.  Paul Rosamond was the Page Site Manager at Seven Star. 

The tropo system ran down-island to Kaohsiung, then to the Philippines at Clark Air Force Base, and then north to Okinawa at Fort Buckner.  It was a quad diversity system running 10 kW max on four transmitters, and transmitting around 950 MHz. 

Seven Star was linked to Grass Mountain via a Collins Radio Corporation commercial microwave; 1 W at 7.2 GHz.  There was a passive reflector (2 Andrews microwave dishes back-to-back) on a 30 foot concrete tower 1/2 mile uphill from Seven Star re-transmitting to the dish on a 100 foot tower at Grass Mountain. 

The tropo system carried 12 voice channels plus order wire on a commercial Lenkurt multiplexer. 

Bob lived in Taipei in a rental second floor apartment.  He still remembers the address:  #12, Alley #1, Lane  #259  Min Chuan East Road.  He had a roommate, Carl Weidman, and seemed to have a very active social life when not working. 

The two big drive-in movie screen tropo antennas are shooting troposcatter signals to Okinawa.  The microwave dish (tall dish in the middle) shot a signal to a passive repeater at Grass Mountain.

The two 20 foot dishes on the 100 foot towers are shooting troposcatter signals down-island to Okinawa.

There was a passive reflector (2 Andrews microwave dishes back-to-back) on a 30 foot concrete tower 1/2 mile uphill from Seven Star re-transmitting to the dish on a 100 foot tower at Grass Mountain.
I'm quite sure that the two large white radomes ware air traffic radars, a search and a height finder. 

I climbed the 100 foot tower once at Grass Mountain to do an antenna alignment. Carried a Simpson VOM with 100-200 feet of field wire connected to the Microwave AGC's DC output.

I also climbed the passive back-to-back microwave repeater at Seven Star several times to pump desiccated air into the connecting waveguide.  We had a typhoon blow down one of the 60 foot antennas on the down-island link. The other antenna was hanging by one bolt. 

Paul Rosamond and I climbed the tower in 50-60 knots of wind to tie the antenna on with dock lines.  Two Page riggers flew in the next day from the Philippines to repair the one antenna and repair and re-hang the other one. 

For those of us who are technically challenged, I hope that Bob's formal and informal explanations give you a better understanding of how complicated communications were in Taiwan.  We covered some of this before in a previous post. To see it, click HERE.

Bob related many other activities in which he took part.  Unfortunately, this is a G rated blog and that automatically censors some content.  Let's just say this:  If any of you are hunters or carpenters you will understand what the terms moose and hammer meant during those times. 

There's just one more facinating bit of Bob's e-mail. There was an Air America (CIA) air base at Tainan.  Another base was near Pingtung, in southern Taiwan as well.

Both of these bases were connected to Kaohsiung by microwave links of 20 to 25 miles. Both of these bases, missions and  locations have been verified.
Map from U. S. Army Map Service, Corps of Engineers

Ths map, from 1958, shows the geographical relationship among the bases at Pingtung, Tainan and Kaohsiung (Tsoying).


  1. Great info John. Thanks! I was a hunter back in the day, and I recall bagging some moose.

  2. I was stationed at Dau (Clark Autovon) as a tech controller in 1971-72. Our link northward was a Cardion knife edge diffraction link into Cabuyo, reasonably close to John Hay Air Base. It bridged groups to John Hay and Wallace Air Station on Luzon's north west coast. I was a member of AFCS (Always Effing Cleaning Something).