USAFSS 6987TH SG, Shulinkou AS, Taipei, Taiwan

1957 to 1959
The Early Years


By Harry Davis

Email: hornethar@hughes

Updated 11 December 2010 / Added 02 April 2010

Shulinkou 1957 to 1959
Photos by Harry Davis (Click to Enlarge)

Harry Davis, "I was excited to find this website and appreciate the efforts of those responsible for it's existence and it's maintenance."

1957 Linkou ID Card   (Click on Photos to Enlarge)   1958 Shulinkou aerial photo provided by E. D. Ledet
Over 51 years have passed since I left Taiwan where I was stationed from October 1957 to January 1959 as a Cryto Operator on Trick 3. Detailed memories have faded with time, but I will never forget the time I spent there.
  I flew in from Clark AFB to the airport at Taipei and was met there by someone who took me to the Linkou Club Annex in Taipei. I remember thinking that this would not be a bad assignment. Nobody told me where we were going next. After the trip up that dusty, bumpy Linkou Road, we arrived at the base. What base? I could not believe where they had sent me.

  My first duty at LinKou was in the guard shack at the entrance to the operations center. I was waiting for some type of paperwork to arrive before I could work inside. This was a very stressful situation as I didn't know anyone and many of the badges did not have a picture of the person on them. Of course, most of them arrived at the same time when it was time for a trick change and I was concerned about letting an unauthorized person into the operations center.
  It was a relief to finally go to work inside in the communications center. I was a crypto operator and had previously been assigned to a small crypto center at Selfridge AFB, Michigan. It was quite a change to be working in a larger comm. center with both Army and Navy personnel. I really enjoyed the work and felt like we were doing a good thing for our country.

  Everything about this assignment was different than anything I had experienced in the Air Force or in life. Living conditions were almost like a full-time camping trip. Heat, humidity, mosquitoes, poor showering facilities and poor conditions in general. The facilities were worse than basic training at Lackland AFB, or the Cavalry era barracks at F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming. No wonder the term "IHTFP" ("I Hate This F...... Place") was commonly used. The houseboys (shown below) helped make living there more bearable. Having someone to clean the barracks, make your bed and shine your shoes was a good thing.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge) Photos by Harry Davis

1.) "Papa San" (worker). Pool house (right), pool and fence (background), open-bay corrugated metal barracks (left), and "original" Main Gate Shack (left background)   2.) Carrying laundry to the Chinese laundry on base, May 1958. Shown are corrugated metal, open-bay barracks (left), antennas (background) and the new Pool House/Maintenance Building under construction (right). The new Swimming Pool is just off to the right of the photo.   3.) Houseboys inside the open-bay barracks.   4.) Dispensary. The series of poles in the distance marked the location of the DF site.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge) Harry Davis and a "magic bricks" sidewalk at Linkou 1958.
I will never forget the "green eggs" in the mess hall, and the food in general. You could get some decent food at the club on the "Hill" and at Club 63 in Taipei. Actually, some of the food in the mess hall was okay, but the eggs were the worst thing I remember.
  The Chinese way of life was a real culture shock for me. The pedicabs, rice paddies, "honey buckets" and men relieving themselves along the sidewalk were all new to me. Our living conditions on the Hill were great when compared to the average citizen of Taiwan.
  They also laid the "magic bricks" for sidewalks during my time at LinKou. I took a picture (photo on right) of some of the men playing basketball on the outdoor court and in the background are stacks of "magic bricks" for sidewalks.

  In April or May 1958, they began construction of the swimming pool (see photos below). All of the excavation was done by hand. The dirt was carried out of the hole in buckets hanging on each end of a pole carried on the shoulders of a worker. This was a slow, tedious process and we thought the pool would never be finished. The pool was completed sooner than we imagined and was a nice addition to the base facilities.

Swimming Pool Construction (Click on Photos to Enlarge) Photos by Harry Davis

1.) Pool construction May 1958. Also shown are "The Last Resort" (Linkou Club's previous name) enlisted men's club (left) and Chapel (right).   2.) Finishing the pool. The construction materias behind the pool were used to build the Pool House/Maintenance Bldg. Corrugated metal, open-bay barracks are in the background.   3.) Finishing the pool's concrete edging and decking. The new Pool House/Maintenance Bldg (left) is under construction. Barracks are in the right background.   4.) May/June 1958 shot of the completed pool and "The Last Resort" in the background. A2C McDonald is holding a pole used by the Taiwanese laborers to carry out buckets of dirt when digging the new pool.

(Click to Enlarge) Oct. 22, 1958 China Post front page articles on the Taiwan Strait conflict.
  The year 1958 was a time of anxiety and unrest for all of us who were stationed on Taiwan. The Chicoms were shelling the offshore islands and threatening to "liberate" the nationalist Chinese on Taiwan. We feared an attack was imminent, and we really had no chance to survive it. They came up with a list of personnel who were to stay on the "Hill" if we were forced to evacuate and my name was on that list. I thought my life would probably be over before my 21st birthday.
  To top it off we were hit by a typhoon in July 1958 [Super typhoon Winnie hit eastern Taiwan on July 15, 1958 with 175 mph winds causing 31 deaths and 53 injuries crossing the island to China.] That was a scary situation, but we survived. The winds managed to move our anchored barracks about six inches from its original location, but was moved back in place and anchored down again. I was scheduled to go to Hong Kong in the summer of 1958 but the Chicom situation caused the cancellation of all Hong Kong trips, which was a big disappointment. A couple of months later the situation with the Chicoms seemed to settle down some and we were less worried about dying there.

  Joseph Sansone, a good friend, and I were scheduled to leave Taiwan on January 5, 1959. Since we had less than six months left on our four-year enlistment the policy at that time was to release us from active duty rather than reassign us. We went to the airport in Taipei, and were told that the MATS airplane had mechanical problems and would not be flying out that day. About two weeks later we were allowed to fly back to the states. During those two weeks we stayed in the upstairs rooms of the Linkou Club Annex in Taipei.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge) 1957/58 Photos by Harry Davis
1.) SSgt Sammy Ritchey (right), a coworker and good friend.   2.) Ralph Swineford (right), a good friend, playing solitaire in the barracks.
3.) Linkou Road to Taipei.   4.) Children along Linkou Road   5.) Taipei pedicabs.

1.) Winding Linkou Road to Taipei.   2.) A green 1955 Chevy and other "classics" in the Navy Exchange parking lot at the MAAG Compound in Taipei.
3.) The sign on the building reads “Parcel Department, Taipei Post Office”.   4.) Temple near the 63 Club.

(1. & 2.) The Chungshan N. Road bridge over the Keelung River.   3.) Cannon located on a hill overlooking the Chungshan Bridge and Keelung River.
4.) 1958 shot of the 63 Club (far left) located along the Keelung River.

1.) Taihoku Provincial Office, Taipei.   2.) First Commercial Bank of Taiwan.   (3. & 4.) Sad elephants at the Taipei Zoo 1958

(Click on Images to Enlarge) 1957/58 Photos by Harry Davis
October 10, 1958 message of gratitude to the American troops on Taiwan from Chang Tao-fan,
President of the Legislative Yuan (legislature) of the Republic of China from 1952 to 1959.

Harry Davis' Air Force Days

After graduation from high school in May, 1955, two classmates and I decided to join the Air Force. We enlisted on June 14, 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri. We traveled to San Antonio by train with several other enlistees. We were picked up at the railroad station, loaded on a bus, and taken to Lackland AFB. The harassment began at that point. I was a scared 17 year old, and figured I had made a huge mistake in joining the Air Force.

We survived Basic Training, and I received my orders to F.E. Warren AFB near Cheyenne, Wyoming. I was scheduled to attend Teletype School there. I learned that the base had been an Army Cavalry Post in the past, and the barracks appeared to be that old. They were heated by coal-fired furnaces, and in addition to K.P., keeping the furnaces going was another extra duty we endured. One airman would be assigned to keep the fires going in several barracks. It was the worst duty that I ever performed in the Air Force.   After graduation from Teletype School (USAF diploma on left - click to enlarge), I had to stay there an extra month or so waiting on a security clearance to attend Crypto School. During that time, some of us were given the job of remodeling the Day Room. That was pretty good duty, and I learned a little about carpentry. Soon I received orders to Scott AFB, Illinois to attend Crypto School. Scott was near Bellville, Illinois which was across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri. The worst thing about that assignment was the location of our barracks. We were across the street from the Flight Line, and the sound and vibration from the jet engines would almost shake you out of bed at night.

After graduating from Crypto School (USAF diploma on right - click to enlarge), I was promoted to A/2C and was assigned to the 1st Operations Squadron, Selfridge AFB, Michigan. Selfridge was a nice base on the shores of Lake St. Clair. The nearest town was Mount Clemens, and it was not far from Detroit. Our barracks was the same vintage as in my previous assignments with one exception. They had built partitions in the open bay, making two man cubicles. The communications center was in the same type building. The Crypto Center was two small rooms adjacent to the Teletype Center. The Teletype Center was a 24/7 operation, but due to light traffic in the Crypto Center, we worked days and were on stand-by nights and week-ends. I was fortunate to be promoted to A/1C while I was stationed there. At that time, the Air Force was loaded with E-3's, and it was difficult to be promoted to E-4. Our squadron had a softball team and I was the shortstop. We were in a tournament at the end of the season, when I received orders to Taiwan. After I left, our squadron went on to win the base championship. They sent my trophy to me while I was in Taiwan. I spent the remainder of my Air Force enlistment at Shu Lin Kou, with about a month spent at Clark AFB in early 1958, having my tonsils removed. I did have 10 days TDY in Okinawa clearing up some communications problems we were having with their circuits. I was promoted to S/SGT on June 1. 1958, just prior to the typhoon and Chicom problems.

When writing about my time in the Air Force, I came to the realization that in my entire military career, I never lived or worked in a modern building.

Sincerely,   Harry Davis

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