I remember two great escapes and what they both have in common is Tom Sherman and Mike Sopchak, two guys who always seemed to be mentioned in the same breath. The first was an escape from the King’s Club. I heard that they tore the sink off the wall in the King’s Club bathroom—you really have to do something bad to get cussed out (for real) by King’s Club girls and have them call the Provost Marshall (PMO) on you.
Late at night, in downtown Taipei, all the slow moving traffic, carts and farm animals, would move from one side of the city to another. When Sherman and Sopchak came out of the King’s Club they spotted an old man who was moving his water buffalo across town. They somehow talked the old man, who spoke no English, into letting two crazy Americans ride his water buffalo to the next bar, the China Night. There are two things you need to remember about drunks riding a water buffalo: (1) you ride bareback and hold on with all fours and (2) since water buffalo cool off by wallowing in the mud, it becomes caked to their skin when dry. Our heroes arrived at the China Night with the front of their clothing completely black. Oh yeah, there is one other thing to remember. Be careful on the dismount. One of them, I think it was Sherman, fell on the pavement and broke his arm.
The night of the second great escape began at a ship-over party in the Prince Club. I’ve forgotten who was shipping over but it was a sufficiently rare event, despite the highest VRB in the navy, to cause someone to buy out the Prince Club for the several hours to celebrate. The Prince Club wasn’t one of the more popular places so they agreed to close the club for a private party for an agreed upon amount (maybe $150) where everyone was allowed to drink as much as they wanted. It quickly became clear to the owner that free drinks and Linkou Navy was a lethal combination. The executive officer was even drinking with us. The C. O. would have been there but he was off the island at the time. The guy running the club eventually cut us off early and the party moved to the Imperial Club. The Imperial Club was a popular spot but they weren’t as tolerant as the King’s Club. With people dancing on the bar, the exec among them, they called the PMO. Just as the PMO arrived, so did the drunken pair of Sherman and Sopchak, on a motorcycle which they promptly dumped in front of the paddy wagon. You guys know the routine—they took their IDs and put them in the back. Then they went inside to run in a good part of Linkou Navy. After some negotiation, the exec got them to agree to take him in for the whole command. They went outside and found the paddy wagon empty—they did not bother to lock the door. I guess they thought taking IDs was enough. It wasn’t. Later, that night when I was sitting in the China Night, the PMO came in and came straight to me—they knew all Linkou Navy on sight. “Have you seen Sherman and Sopchak?” “If you do, you tell them that they better turn themselves in. They’re in real trouble this time.” I don’t remember how much trouble they got into but as I remember punishment priorities on the ROC. Our base was Air Force but the admiral always told them, in matters of jurisdiction, that it was a navy island. The navy liked or tolerated Linkou Navy a lot better than the Air Force or Army. I wonder if the Air Force and Army guys had any fun at all.