Here's Stev's account of his trip:
I was an E-3 PHGAN [Ground Photographer Airman] when I arrived in Taipei. Commander Best was the officer in charge of the photo lab. I had only been there two or three weeks when they sent me to Matsu with the commander. I still don't know why they sent me, but I tell people it was to confuse the enemy. We flew over in a PBY (don't hold me to that because I'm not an expert on aircraft), landed on the water, and when we climbed out of the plane there were 4 or 5 MAAG guys on the beach staring at me wondering what a PHGAN was. They thought I was some sort of nuclear technician. After they found out I was only a photographer, they wandered off. I told Sarj this story earlier and he thinks the trip was so the commander could get some flight pay. He could be right, but confusing the enemy makes for a better story so I'm sticking with that.
Most people familiar with Taiwan know that Matsu is a group of islands just off the coast of mainland China near the mouth of the Min River. At that time, 1959, five of the islands were inhabited. If my memory is right, there were about a dozen Americans stationed there. They lived in, and worked out of, this compound on one of the islands.
I stayed there a week taking a couple of pictures for the commander, but mostly wandering around on my own. Spotted around on the surface of the islands were various anti-aircraft guns and artillery pieces, but the really big guns were hidden underground in caves. I understand the hostilities got serious occasionally, but for the most part they had a pretty civilized arrangement. The two sides, Communists and Nationalists, would fire artillery shells at each other that sprayed out propaganda leaflets. One side would fire on the odd numbered days and the other side would fire on the even numbered days.
After my week there, I went back to Taiwan on a Chinese destroyer with a couple of the MAAG guys.
I don't know who the Chinese mistook me for, but they had me inspect the ship 3 times on the trip to Keelung. Eight hours after we left Matsu, we arrived in Keelung's harbor.
From Keelung, it was back to my ordinary life in Taipei and the photo lab.