Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy (Western) New Year to All!

I just want to wish everyone a very happy and successful new year.  I am especially thankful for all the friends I've met by way of this blog during the past two and a half years (more than thirty-six thousand hits so far!).

Many thanks to all of you for your interest in the US Taiwan Defense Command, the people who worked there, as well as the surrounding military compound, none of which remain there today.  I'm pleased to have been able to document some of that history -- with lots of help from others -- and I'm looking forward to even more stories and photographs during the upcoming year.  If you've been meaning to join the conversation but just haven't gotten around to it, why not drop me a note?  My email address is at the top right corner of this page.

Warmest regards to all,

Don Wiggins
Illinois
USTDC, 1973-1974

Friday, December 18, 2009

Taiwan Medals Recently Awarded to US Military

Vincent A. sent me the following article from the China Times:

Taiwan honors members of US Armed Forces

The Ministry of National Defense presented roughly 600 medals to members of the United States Armed Forces Dec.14, in recognition of the help and support given to Taiwan in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot.
Approximately 10 representatives from the U.S. Armed Forces attended the ceremony, as did William A. Stanton, director of the American Institute in Taiwan.
“We would like to offer you our great thanks for your magnanimous assistance, given as if to a brother,” said Kao Hua-chu, minister of national defense.
The 600 medals, which carried the words “In commemoration of the Typhoon Morakot rescue operations,” were handed out to all those who participated in the search and rescue operations.
Close to 500 navy personnel were on board the USS Denver, an amphibious transport dock stationed off the coast of Taiwan during the humanitarian mission, said Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who also attended the ceremony.
Other medal recipients included members of the U.S. Pacific Command and the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Military personnel stationed in Japan, representatives of AIT, as well as members of the U.S. Defense Department were also given medals, Lin added.
One officer from the Pentagon made singular contributions to the Aug. 16-17 rescue operations, said Lin. He did not sleep for four straight days, because he had to keep in touch with the U.S. State and Defense departments by day, and at night he had to coordinate rescue operations with USPACOM, the Seventh Fleet and AIT.
The medals have a flag of the Republic of China on them. At first the MND considered including a U.S. flag as well, as a symbol of the friendship between the two nations, Lin said. But the MND thought it would be too sensitive to do so, and in the end decided against it.
“I am sure all the officers and military personnel who wear these medals will feel great pride that they participated in such a noble cause,” the legislator said.
Taiwan and the United States broke off diplomatic relations 30 years ago, and yesterday was the first time since then that Taiwan has ever given any medals to members of the U.S. military. The invitations to the American military personnel were given in secret.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

U-2, Part II

A huge hat tip to Bill M., who pointed me to this link.

It's an article by General Hua, whom I wrote about yesterday, about the Black Cat Squadron.  The article originally appeared in Power History in 2002. It goes into much greater detail about the ROCAF pilots who flew the U-2 "weather reconnaissance" aircraft.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Incident at Cortez

This remarkable story is a little off-topic for this blog, but it involves a U-2 spy plane, a pilot from the Republic of China, the US Air Force, and an incident in a small city in Southwest Colorado fifty years ago. I never heard the story until today when I received a note from Lloyd Evans at the Taiwan Veterans Badge of Honor Association.

The captivating Cold War saga centers on then Major Hsichan Mike Hua ROCAF (Ret), an intrepid Taiwan pilot who landed his disabled CIA U-2 at the Cortez, Colorado, airfield the night of August 3, 1959. General Hua returned to Cortez this past August on the anniversary date of his flight to speak at the observance held in his honor.

The general and his wife prepared a video Christmas card this year that includes the complete story of how he ended up at the controls of the U-2 and the circumstances surrounding his unscheduled visit to Colorado. It's a fascinating bit of history that I'd heard nothing about. The video is several minutes long but it's well worth taking the time to watch. You can view it HERE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Recent View of the USTDC Neighborhood

One of the photos that Kent sent to me after his last Taipei trip was this one. You're looking toward the west on Min Zu East Road, and at the end of the block is Zhong Shan North Road where you would turn right to the HSA East and West Compounds.

You can see the yellow sign on the corner of the intersection that was the Caves Bookstore where you could buy very inexpensive copies of books, tapes and records. They were, of course, pirated copies in those days, not the originals. It seems to me the rule was that you could take one copy of each title with you when you returned to the States without a problem but you couldn't take, say, several copies of the same novel.

Just back this direction on the left side of the street is where the Linkou Club Annex was located when I was there, and just a little further back this way was the Linkou Hotel, a small hotel where I stayed for a few days when I first arrived at USTDC.

It's hard to tell if either of the original structures that housed the Linkou Club and Hotel are still there because of the facades, but the old Caves bookstore building is the same. There are several photos elsewhere in this blog of that building, some from back in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as more recent ones.

Just click on the photo to see it in much higher resolution.

Friday, December 4, 2009

American GIs Return to Club 63

Okay, so it's not really the Club 63. That place, where many of us spent much of our off duty time, closed its doors in 1979. But the building is still there and today it's The American Club in China.

Kent and several other Taiwan vets returned to Taipei for a visit a few weeks ago and were able to spend a little time at the club. John Quinn sent me these photos of the happy group and some of the food that they enjoyed while there.

I should point out that The American Club is an exclusive (and very expensive, I'm told) private club that does not allow visitors unless they are escorted by a club member. When the group's Taipei trip was being organized several months ago, club management graciously consented to allow them to tour the facility and to gather there for a meal. Individuals visiting Taipei in the future should not expect to be granted access.

John and Kent tell me that the interior of the place has been completely remodeled and looks almost nothing like it did back in the day. I understand that the stag bar building that was located across the parking lot from the main entrance (when I was there) is gone.






Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bridge Construction Sign

Regular contributor John Quinn sent me this link on Google Maps. He wrote, "Here's how the area looks on Google Maps: Chungshan (Hirohito) Bridge Project. Perhaps one of our Chinese friends can interpret what the construction sign says."

Any volunteers?

Here's the image at the link:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hirohito Bridge Pieces

A couple of days ago I asked if anyone had photos of the remains of the old "Hirohito Bridge" that I heard was stored somewhere near the river. I received two responses:

Victor provided a link to this photo.


And Misty sent a link to this photo. As he pointed out, note the "bridge to nowhere" to the right of the bridge pieces. They apparently stopped construction sometime ago and it's looked like this ever since. It would be interesting to know what the story behind it is.


Monday, November 30, 2009

R&R Bag?

I saw this bag on eBay this morning. It appears that it was something that the Linkou Hotel gave out to R&R troops who stayed there. The R&R flights had ended by the time I arrived in 1973 and even though I stayed at the Linkou when I first arrived, I don't recall anything like this.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Club 63 Revisited

Here are a few more of Kent's photos from a few weeks ago. These were taken at The American Club in China, where the Club 63 (aka "China Seas Club") was formerly located. Kent says the place has been completely remodeled, which I'd expect since we left there about 30 years ago.

You can see the Grand Hotel in the background.

Kent confirmed that the stag bar building that used to be across the parking lot from the club when I was there is now gone.





This lounge inside the club looks similar to one that was there in 1973-74, but I doubt if it's the same.

I'm looking forward to seeing more photos and comments from Kent and the others who were part of the "American GIs Returning to Taiwan" group. I'll post links to them as soon as they're available.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Bridge Less Complicated

Regular contributor Stev Pitchford provided these photos from September 1959, showing the Chung Shan North Road bridge that many of us remember. It was replaced by the busy interchange shown in my last post. I understand that all of the old spans have been removed and I assume that the footings are gone also.

As I said earlier, I often walked across this bridge. It was common for food vendors to park their carts at either end, and the first time I ever tasted dried squid was from one of those carts. That was also the last time I ever tasted dried squid. Apologies to all those who enjoy this delicacy, but it just didn't appeal to my western sense of taste.

Now a plate of delicious "pot stickers," on the other hand . . . .



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Bridge Too Complicated

More pictures from Kent, this time showing the bridges that now span the river on the way to the old Club 63, Tien Mou and other areas to the north of USTDC.

When I was there in 1973-74 it was just a single bridge, built by the Japanese as I recall. I often crossed it on foot, looking down at the water and whatever happened to be floating by at the time.




This is a Google Earth view showing more or less what it looks like from the air.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Compound Today

Old friend Kent, owner of the Taipei Air Station website and blog, returned from Taipei a few weeks ago and was kind enough to send me some snapshots of his trip.

Just when I'd finally gotten used to the idea that the old Headquarters Support Activity (HSA) west compound (where the BX, commissary, theater, library and USTDC were located) was replaced by a park, I now see that the park is being destroyed to accommodate an upcoming flora exposition.

Great! Now I'm doubly out of date.

Here are a few shots of the former east compound:




As you continue north on Chung Shan North Road, just before the bridge, you come to the turn that took you to the main entrance of the US Taiwan Defense Command headquarters building. Many of you will remember the Storybook House on the corner.

Just past the storybook house is now the modern art museum, located just to the west of the former TDC compound. The USTDC location is now a taxi rest area. I find that very depressing for some reason.

But even though most everything that I knew is now gone, I guess I'm at least a little bit comforted by this shot of a passenger aircraft coming in on final approach to the airport. I estimate that this photo was probably taken a few yards south of where the hostels were located. I've often written here about the passenger jets rattling my windows in the hostel as they flew overhead and it's good to see that this is one thing that has not changed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taiwan Mementos Follow-Up

I was asked if there was some way to contact LTC Ellinger to find out if he was interested in certain Taiwan-related items before actually sending them to him. He has set up an email account for these inquiries: us_maag_taiwan@yahoo.com. This would also be a good way to send digitized photographs as well, as long as you include a note explaining the "who, what, when and where" for each photo.

As I said in my last post, I'd very much like to have copies of photos that are at all USTDC related, as well as photos of any items that you ship, along with your okay to post them here on the blog. Email them to me at: USTD[at]yahoo.com. Also please do the same for the Taipei Air Station website (email TaipeiAirStation@hawaii.rr.com), the Taipei Air Station blog (same as the Taipei Air Station website) and the Shu Linkou vets website (email Phantom@dawgflight.com). The Linkou website focuses mainly on the individuals and activities in and around the former Air Station on the hill, while the Taipei Air Station sites cover most anything that is Taiwan related.

I explained to a good friend recently that my kids have no interest in my Taiwan stuff (except maybe for the furniture I gave them) and the grandkids have even less. I'd just hate to see those things get thrown out or end up on eBay after I'm gone, so this is a chance for me to send them back home again for "permanent" display. I know that my situation may be quite different from that of many others, but if you're in a similar situation, this would be a way to preserve some of the stuff you've kept in the bottom of a drawer or the back of a closet for many years.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Taiwan Mementos

I received the following request from Lieutenant Colonel Scott Ellinger:

History is not to be forgotten. All who were once stationed in Taiwan please look through your old boxes, scrap books, and photo albums.

I am LTC Scott J. Ellinger, currently stationed in Taiwan at the American Institute in Taiwan – Taipei. I work in the Technical Section (Technical Section is the term used for the US MAAG after 1979) as the Army Programs Manager.

Our office wants to line our hallway with items from yesteryear in honor of those who once served in Taiwan, and to maintain a history of assigned units. We want to collect old memorabilia from persons who were stationed in Taiwan with any unit (USTDC, MAAG, Army/Navy/Air Force/Marine units and DoD civilians assigned to any of these units). So far, we have chosen 10 photos (blown up to 12x18) to line the hallway (these photos were downloaded from the USTDC and Taipei Air Station BLOGs). We would like more photos to fill up the white spaces on the walls.

Secondly, the collected memorabilia items will be put into an enclosed glass casing for their permanent home.

Lastly, if anyone has write ups (or wants to do a write up) of unit histories with unit photos, please send them. A historical file is to be created.

For those who are willing contribute to this endeavor, please notify Don Wiggins.


As years go by, I often think about the mementos from my military days that I've stored away in a box somewhere. Chances are good that most of those things will mean very little to my kids and grandkids and it's likely that they'll eventually disappear.

LTC Ellinger is offering a home for photos and objects from those days that will provide a record of our service in Taiwan. I already told him that I'll be sending him the "Gemo Medal" that I received while at USTDC.

I encourage you to take a look at what you have and if there's anything that you would like to see on permanent display at AIT in Taipei, just drop me an email and I'll send you LTC Ellinger's mailing address. Note: Overseas postage is NOT necessary.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Taiwan Report -- 1963-64 Version

A few days ago, someone had the winning bid on eBay for a 1963-64 edition of Taiwan Report, the brochure that was sent to American military folks being assigned to Taipei.

If the winner would be interested in sharing that brochure with the rest of us, I'd be pleased to post it here, as I did with the 1973 edition that Les Duffin was kind enough to scan and send.

If you're out there and if you're so inclined, just drop me a note at the email address at the top right of this page.

I'd also like to hear from all who have stories or photos that they'd like to share with other readers of this blog. I've been writing here for approximately twice as long as I actually spent at USTDC. Needless to say, I ran out of new things to write about some time ago. In fact, most of what's here has come from many of you. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all your help in filling in so many historical blanks about the place.

Even if I didn't write another word, I guess I'd be satisfied with just leaving the blog as it is today for as many years as the good folks at Blogger will allow it. My objective from the beginning was to record at least some history of USTDC, especially from the standpoint of those who served there, and make it available to the general public. I think that in many ways that objective has been reached or exceeded.

But at the same time, I'm sure that there are still many untold stories floating around out there. How about taking a few minutes to send me yours?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Building Layout -- Continued

I recently asked for input on the layout of the USTDC building and I received this email from Ed Bunting:

I was assigned to the photo lab in the quonset hut in '57-'58. The building next to it housed a 24" X 24" horizontal copy camera and darkroom. The back of the building had a printing press for our only lithographer's mate. The building behind that was the photo commander's office and a storeroom. The photo interpretation unit and crypto unit was in the basement of the main building. There was another quonset hut off to the left that doesn't show in the photo that was the Seabee unit. That is about all I can remember. I hope it helps.

Ed Bunting (PHG2)
I know that some offices were moved around over the years, but I don't remember the quonset hut when I was there in 1973-74. Does anyone recall if that's true and, if so, where the photo lab was moved to?

Also, I have no memory of a basement in the building. I believe that the photo interpretation guys (Larry and Pete, in my day) were up on the second floor somewhere. Does anyone recall where the basement stairs were?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Guest

The party was well underway when the guest arrived at the second floor apartment. He arrived alone, as he always did, but he was grateful for the invitation and the chance to relax with good friends. The other guests, some there with their wives and others with their girlfriends, were helping themselves to the well stocked bar. He opened a can of Budweiser and began to mingle.


The host proudly demonstrated his “magic television” which turned itself on whenever he rattled his keys. He said that the first time it happened was during another party when someone dropped a glass on the tile floor and the TV clicked on all by itself. He’d spent hours experimenting with other noise sources to find one that might also work and the jingling key ring did the trick. The guest supposed it was less expensive than replacing broken glasses, but also thought that it would be simpler to just click the remote.


Someone turned on the stereo. It was an imposing behemoth from the Navy Exchange that fairly rattled the walls. The guests began singing loudly along with the music, mostly stuff from the sixties. Two guys in the room started voicing over the music in the style of Wolfman Jack (bringing you the BIG sound from the BIG town). They weren’t very good but nobody noticed and the other guests cheered them on.


The volume of both stereo and singers increased as the evening wore on and the guest wondered how the neighbors felt about it. He was a bit older than most of the other guests and thought about how he would react if he was one of the neighbors. He decided that he probably wouldn’t handle it well, especially if the partiers were guests in his country.


As the party continued into the night, he decided it was time to slip quietly out the door, catch a taxi and maybe drop by the Club 63 stag bar for a beer before calling it a night. He walked down the stairs, went outside and started up the street to find a cab.


As he walked under the balcony of the apartment where the party was being held, he felt what he first thought were rain drops. Only it wasn’t raining. One of the partiers had decided to relieve himself off the balcony onto the street below.


The guest jumped back under the balcony, out of the line of fire, until the phantom reliever stumbled back into the apartment. He considered going back upstairs but decided to forget about it and hailed a cab. After cranking down both of the backseat windows, he decided to forgo the stag bar and asked the driver to take him straight home…as quickly as possible.


After a long, hot shower (with lots of soap), the guest decided that he’d probably not be attending any more parties until his return to the States. He considered burning his clothes but decided to just have them washed the next day instead. He never mentioned the incident to anyone.


He didn’t realize that throughout his life, this night would be one of the first things he recalled whenever he thought about his fifteen months in Taipei.


Needless to say, he’d have preferred most anything else.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TDC Plaque


Some time ago I wrote that I was looking for a photo of the USTDC plaques that were presented when individuals departed Taiwan back in the 1970s. I disposed of mine years ago and haven't seen one since.

Retired SCPO Craig Chapman was Boatswain's Mate at TDC during 1975-1977, and he provided this photo of his plaque and presentation case. I don't think the presentation cases were used during 1973-1974 because mine just came in a cardboard box. Hmmm...maybe that was just mine.

Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone knows how long these plaques were presented. They were definitely presented from 1973 through 1977, but what about the years before and after?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TDC Floorplan


I often look at this photo and try to remember what the inside of the building looked like. The photo was probably taken sometime around 1960, and there were a few external changes over the years. For example, I don't remember that quonset hut to the right of the main building, nor the small building next to it when I was at TDC in 1973-74. I know the quonset was once the photo lab but I don't know what the other building was. The long canopy over the entrance was replaced with a permanent overhang, which you can see at the top of this blog.

I know that when I went in the main entrance, the J1's office was immediately to my left. Straight ahead was the Chief's office (BMC Gagne when I was there). It was almost like a ticket window kind of thing. Inside was a counter with a phone and a squawk box that was connected to the flag office. There was a small room behind the Chief's office that had a standard GI bunk for those pulling the watch at night.

If you turned left at the chief's office, there was a long hallway. I rarely went down that hallway, except when I had the watch and had to lower and lock the metal door at the end. I think the downstairs head was down that way but I'm not sure about that.

If you turned right at the chief's office, I believe the comm center was down there on the right. To get to my office (J12), you turned left toward the end of that hallway.

Just to the right of the chief's office was the stairway up to the second floor. My memory says that there were two or three steps up to the first landing, then several steps up to the right to the second landing and then two or three steps to the right again to the second floor.

I've always thought that to get to the flag office you turned left at the top of the stairs, where you had to go through the XO's office to get to either the general's or admiral's offices. But after looking at the photo, I'm wondering if those offices were over the main entrance.

I don't remember much else about the second floor of the building, except that the J-2 acquisition (?) shop was up there somewhere.

Okay, I've probably got most of this all wrong, so here's your chance to straighten me out. If you remember where the offices were located and who was in them, maybe you could draw a floorplan, scan it, and send it in. I know that some of the offices moved around over the years. I think my office was once a classified area. There was a steel door to the outside in the back that could only be opened from the inside.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rest and Recreation (R&R) - Part 3

This segment concludes the R&R series. The military men visit other areas as they conclude their "Holiday From Hell" in Taiwan and return to Vietnam.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rest and Recreation (R&R) - Part 2

Today continues the "Holiday From Hell" video about the R&R troops that came to Taipei from Vietnam.

In today's segment, the men arrive in Taipei and receive their instructions on where to go, what to do (and not do) and how to behave. They then head for their hotels and begin to enjoy their time away from Vietnam.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rest and Recreation (R&R) - Part 1

Some time ago I found this article from the Veterans Affairs Commission Executive Yuan, R. O. C., regarding the US Military Recreation Center in Taipei. There were several R&R centers, including Japan, Hong Kong, Hawaii and of course Taiwan. The center in Taipei was closed during 1972 as American troops were leaving Vietnam.

I recently found a documentary on YouTube about the R&R flights out of Vietnam. The film, titled "Holiday From Hell," is in three parts. Today I'm posting part one, which provides some background for the flights and it includes brief interviews with a few American and allied forces prior to their departure for Taipei.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chinese New Year 1966

I found this British Pathe' film footage from 1966. The scenes were apparently never used in any of their newsreels and there is no sound, but it contains footage of a number of private and public Chinese new year celebrations that I thought you might find interesting.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Trash Trucks in Taipei

I changed up some of the Taiwan blog links listed in the right hand column here, dropping those that were more focused on present day Taiwan politics. I spend enough time grumbling about my own government and decided that reading the daily criticisms of Taiwan's government by Americans who happen to live there was not particularly helpful.

One of the new blogs is called New Hampshire Bushman, which was rated as one of the best (English) Taiwan blogs last year. In a recent piece, the author (MJ Klein) included a short video of a Taiwan trash truck. Does anyone remember if they had these musical wonders when we were there?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hsin Sheng Theater

I received some comments and photographs from Les D. regarding the recent discussion here about the Hsin Sheng Theater:

Since that film clip of Taipei in the 60s caused a few comments about the Hsin Sheng Theater, I thought I’d dig through my old slides and see if I could find some photos of it.

The first three shots were taken sometime between 1962 and 1966, probably closer to the earlier date than the latter. They proceed south along hagglers’ row. Notice the pedicab in the one shot, and the general lack of traffic. The Hsin Sheng Theater is the building on the left in the third photo, surrounded by bamboo scaffolding.



[The next two] are pics of the theater, though the train in the last was obviously my focus.

The last pair of photos were taken between 1971 and 1978. The first one shows hagglers’ row from the opposite direction and with much more traffic. The second one was taken after the overhead walkway was built across the railroad tracks and shows the theater in the right center.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Newsreel from 1959

I just came across a Universal Studios newsreel from 1959, the kind they used to show in theaters just before the feature film was shown. It presents a very positive view of Taiwan after ten years of rule under Chiang Kai Shek.

Though it really has nothing directly to do with USTDC, I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing the people and their activities from 50 years ago. The film has a running time of 1:19.

You can view it at this link.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Naval Hospital Images

About a year ago I posted a photograph from the 1970s of the main parking lot at the Naval Hospital in Taipei.

Victor recently sent me these images of the hospital that he believes are from around 1979, shortly after the U.S. withdrawal. In the first one he circled the hospital complex itself (to the right, in green).

In the second, he circled in red the hospital parking lot that was shown in my post from last year. Just below that is the baseball field, circled in blue. The large yellow square encloses the Veterans General Hospital complex.

You can see what that area looks like today on Google Maps. Just click on this link and you'll find that some tennis courts and parts of some buildings are approximately where the hospital parking lot used to be. You can also use Street View to see the neighborhood at street level. The tennis court fences are on the right side and are covered so you can't see the courts themselves.

Like most everything else in Taipei, very little looks as it did when I was there.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Typhoon Amy Article

I've written a few times about typhoons that have hit Taiwan. If you enter the word "typhoon" in the search box at the upper left of this page, you should find all of those pieces.

Sarj Bloom recently sent this article from the Pacific Stars and Stripes, dated sometime in September 1962 with some photos that were taken during typhoon Amy. Some of these images were posted here previously.


You can see a short British Pathe' news film from 1962 about typhoon Amy at this link.

As bad as Amy was, twelve months later, in September 1963, came typhoon Gloria, which was the strongest typhoon to hit Taiwan at that time. However, there have been other, even stronger storms in the years since, with this year's typhoon Morakot being the deadliest in Taiwan's history.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Slides of Taiwan 1968-1969

As long as I'm on a YouTube kick, I thought you might enjoy seeing this slide presentation that I found from 1968-1969.

Chuck, the photographer, was apparently assigned to Taipei Air Station and most of the slides were taken in and around the Taipei area. It runs for about four and a half minutes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Film Clip of Taipei During the 1950s

If the Babel Fish text translator is correct, that's what this short film clip on YouTube is about. The quality isn't great, but there are still some great images from back in the day. The actual title: 民國50年代的台北街頭

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Little League International World Series

I'm watching Taiwan ("Chinese Taipei") play Mexico in the International Little League Championship.

  • Top of the 2nd inning and Taiwan just scored the first run of the game.
  • Taipei scores another run! (2-0)
  • The Taiwan pitcher throws a 73 MPH fastball! The announcer says that's equivalent to 95 MPH in the major leagues! After two innings, still 2-0.
  • You DON'T want to make any errors against this team because they'll make you pay. They've obviously been well coached on playing fundamental baseball. Top of the 3rd inning, bases loaded, score now 3-0.
  • Taiwan leaves three on base in the top of the 3rd inning. Score now 4-0. These kids could beat the Cubs. Actually, I think my Sunday school class could beat the Cubs.
  • Three up and three down for Mexico in the bottom of the 3rd. Score still 4-0 Taiwan. The kids from Taiwan look like they're having fun and enjoying themselves.
  • Mexico scores 2 runs in the 4th inning. Score 4-2 Taiwan. Felt sorry for the Taiwan catcher who made a couple of very rare errors.
  • Taiwan at bat in the top of the 5th. Three outs. Looks like both teams are settled in.
  • Error on the Taiwan shortstop. Mexico runner on first base.
  • Double play! Then a ground-out to short. Still 4-2 after 5 and heading for the final inning. It has started raining and the field lights have been turned on.
  • Taiwan coach gathers team before the sixth inning: "Let's bring victory home!"
  • Taiwan has a runner on 2nd. Still raining, but apparently not hard enough to stop the game. Wild pitch, runner advances to third. Batter walks -- runners now at first and third with one out. Mexico sending in a relief pitcher.
  • Stand-up double down the 3rd base line scores two runs. Now 6-2 Taiwan. Raining harder now.
  • Rain delay. The grounds crew covers the infield.
  • Rain delay
  • Rain delay
  • Rain delay
  • ZZzzz....
  • "How much of human life is lost in waiting." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "Between the wish and the result lies waiting." -- Unknown
  • "People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting." -- French proverb
  • The rain has finally stopped. The players are ready. Play ball!
  • Error in the outfield; ball drops between players. Taiwan has runner on first with two outs. Hit-errors-two runs score! Score is 9-2 Taiwan.
  • Popped out to 2nd baseman. Three outs. Going to the bottom of the 6th (final) inning with Taiwan leading 9-2.
  • Mexico punches a single through the infield.
  • Drive to center field. Run scores. Batter goes to second. Score 9-3. Runners at 2nd and 3rd, no outs.
  • Batter strikes out. One out.
  • Ground ball to short. Runner out at first. One run scores. Runner at third. Two outs.
  • Close play at first; runner safe (on a VERY bad call!). Score 9-4. Two outs.
  • Batter strikes out!
TAIWAN BEATS MEXICO!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Job at USTDC, Such As It Was

It occurred to me today that in the previous 433 posts I've made here, I've said very little about my job at TDC. It probably has something to do with the fact that the personnel field isn't all that glorious to begin with. I mean if you ask a special forces guy what he does, he'll come up with something suitably impressive like, "I neutralize threats and break things." I'd have to say something like, "I typed and filed a lot and told people they couldn't have what they wanted." It's just doesn't have the same macho ring to it, does it?

I completed basic training in August of 1962 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. I have two clear memories of that place: We got yelled at constantly and there was no air conditioning. I'm sure there must have been other things going on, but I can't remember any of them right now.

Anyway I was then sent off to a small base in Mississippi (that ceased to exist decades ago, by the way) to learn all about processing records, assignments, job classifications, awards and decorations, military pay, and a host of other tasks. Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

So after I mastered all the blocks of instruction, more or less, I was sent forth over the next ten years or so to apply my skills in places like Okinawa, Florida, California, and Colorado. Some time in 1973 I received word that I was going to a joint service outfit in Taipei, which turned out to be USTDC and that was fine with me. The Air Force had some really nasty remote areas where I could have been sent and I figured that 15 months in Taipei beat the heck out of 12 months in some other cold and lonely places I knew about.

So on my first day at TDC, the guy I was replacing explained the kinds of things I would be dealing with there. It was like stepping onto a new planet; almost none of it was what I'd been trained to do. And what the heck was a quarterdeck anyway? But I vowed to soldier on, or whatever it was that we Air Force people were supposed to do.

One of the first things he introduced me to was something called a staff summary sheet. Now I'd heard of these things but I never actually had to deal with one before. In a nutshell, for those who've never had the pleasure, it is a sort of routing sheet that you attached to some document that you're sending to someone else, usually higher in the food chain, so they know what the item is, why they should care about it, and what they're being asked to do with it.

At this point, I should explain that at TDC I worked for an Army lieutenant colonel. His boss was a Navy captain (06). The captain's boss was an Air Force brigadier general who also had the additional duty as commander of all the Air Force guys at TDC. Of course the general's boss was the Navy vice admiral.

So here's how the staff summary sheet worked in practice: Let's say I got an immunization roster from our (Air Force) support unit in Hawaii. On it would be a list of names of our Air Force guys who were due for an immunization booster shot or some such thing. I'd contact each one and give him a card to take over to the hospital where they'd get the shot, bring the card back and I'd check them off the list. No problem so far.

The problem arose because the roster itself had a line at the bottom for the unit commander's signature, certifying that everyone received the shots they were due. Now on a normal base, I'd just trot over to the commander's office, ask him to sign the thing, and then drop it in the mail. Life wasn't that simple at TDC because my commander was The General.

So I'd fill out the top of the summary sheet with date, a title that I'd make up, the regulatory authority for the action (which I usually had to scramble around to find), and several other blocks of information so that everyone in the chain up to the general could see what was needed. They would then scribble their chop in the appropriate block and send it forward.

However, it wasn't at all unusual for documents to come bouncing back because one of those in the chain had a question that I hadn't addressed sufficiently or there was something they wanted me to change on the SSS. So I'd make the changes and route the package back up again. Sometimes it would come back again because someone higher in the chain wanted another change made. Something as simple as a shot roster could take days to work its way up and down the system.

The funny thing is that I don't think anybody really cared about the thing. They just wanted to be sure that if their boss had a question, they'd be able to answer it.

So I guess you could say that much of my time at TDC was spent explaining the obvious about the unimportant to the disinterested.

That was my job.

What about yours?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Google Steet View In Taipei

I noticed this morning on Michael Turton's View From Taiwan blog that the folks at Google are collecting and publishing their Street View images of Taipei. They're actually in the process of covering much of Taiwan, but they've already covered most of the capital city.

If you're not familiar with Street View, you just point your browser to maps.google.com and then -- in this case -- enter this string in the box and press the Search Maps button: Section 3, Jhongshan North Rd, Jhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104. That will give you this image. That "A" marker is almost exactly at the former entrances to the east and west HSA compounds.

Place your cursor on that Street View image in the white box and you'll see the image shown below. Notice the green construction fence to your right where the Art Park (former east compound) is undergoing renovation. The blue fence to the left is in front of the sports stadium that is located in the area of the former west compound.

The really cool thing about Street View is that if you click ahead on that yellow line, you'll "drive" to that point. You can also turn 360 degrees and look at everything near your location.

For example, if you turn around from your starting point and then follow the yellow line south, you'll find yourself in front of the Caves (aka Lin Kou) bookstore where we used to buy all those good, inexpensive books, records and tapes.

If you turn around and head back north again (gawking left and right as you go, of course), you can go past the American Club (aka Club 63, aka China Seas).

If you find any other interesting spots, please share 'em!