Dedicated To All Navy CT's Stationed at NSGA Shu Linkou Air Station, Taipei, Taiwn

Linkou Navy Stories


The following posts are a sampling of what we lucky few experienced on the island of Taiwan, Republic of China.  There are too many stories to be told here, some can’t be told here, and some shouldn’t be told here (although Don Price has pushed the envelope).  It’s interesting how the human mind recalls events from our distant past, not so much with respect to a specific day, month, year, but the sensory details; what we saw, heard, smelled, touched, and the emotions we felt. Some will say these are exaggerations from sailors whose memories are clouded by too much alcohol, and are known prevaricators of the truth.  Keep in mind that these stories come from men that over 40 years ago were given Top Secret security clearances by the NSA because of their trustworthiness, high integrity, superior moral character, and ……….. well maybe not that last one, but you get the picture.  As the post credits to many movies say “this story is based on actual events”.  The only difference here is that names have not been changed to protect the guilty.

An attempt has been made to arrange these stories in an order that was chronologically followed by young men that experienced a 15 month tour of duty at Shu Linkou.  You might think that the first event experienced by an enlisted serviceman arriving at an overseas shore station would be related to that base’s specific military mission and their work assignment.  Not so in our case.  Within a few hours of first arriving in the Republic of China we were taken under someone’s wing on a Liberty bus down a winding mountain road, across flat lands surrounded by rice paddies, over the Tam-shui River and into a strange city called Taipei to experience leisure time activities instead of work.  There was a feeling of excitement along with some anxiety over what awaited us on that first visit.  It would be natural to be apprehensive about this strange place; strange sights, strange smells, strange food, strange women ……… we couldn’t wait to get there! 


Arrival and Orientation

This story is a composite of the first few trips down the hill.  I don’t have a clear recollection of the chronological order in which they happened, or if certain events happened on the same sked or different ones. This isn’t because I’m getting old, (I am) it’s because we were always hammered. I have clearer recollections of events that happened at work, when we only had a mild buzz on. 

I arrived February 21st, 1971.  I came in on a Northwest Orient MAC flight with a few other Navy guys and a bunch of Zoomies (Airmen) that filled the bus that picked us up at ShungShan Airport.  I recall our Commanding Officer, CMDR Edwin Stein being there to greet us.  There was a Zoomie SSGT on the bus that was acting as a tour guide on the way up the hill.  He was coming back for his 2nd or 3rd tour, and it was obvious he had run the Taipei clubs.  He pointed out a few Clubs on the way up the hill with such passion that I wanted to get off the bus right there.  We pulled into Shu Linkou AS in front of the NCO club and another Zoomie SGT got on and gave directions for checking in, finishing his welcome aboard address with directions to stay on the base until we were all checked in which would take a few days.  I was bummed.  The Zoomies got off, but he told the Navy personnel to stay on.  The bus took us around to the Navy Barracks where CT2 Pee Wee got on board. Pee Wee was a tall thin African-American that wore his hair in a huge afro with his hat seemingly pinned to the top of it not coming in contact with his skull.  He welcomed us aboard, told us to take our time checking in, and have a good time.  When I asked him about being restricted to the base until we got checked in, he said “Shiiiiit No man! That’s for the Zoomies. Go on downtown and get aquantied.” This was my first indication that “NSGA Taiwan” was going to be more like McHale’s Navy than the US Navy. 

PeeWee advised going down with someone that could show me around and get me back.  I ran into a few guys that I knew from NCTC Pensacola “A” school and tried to find someone to take me downtown.  The few guys I knew were either working or broke, so I talked a guy named Gus (real name was Carl but I can’t remember his last name) into showing me around if I bought the beers. The first place he took me was the China Night.  I was greeted by the girl sitting on Paul Harbours knee in the picture at the end of this post; “Delta Sked – China Night”. I think her name was Julie.  She asked me the usual new guy stuff. “What’s your name, branch of service, and where stationed?”   I was awe struck with the mini skirt and those legs, and was half paying attention to the line of questions.  When I told her I was at Linkou she said “Oh Really” except, to me, it sounded like “Are you ready?”  Maybe that’s what I wanted to hear, but as it turned out she wasn’t.

On my second trip into Taipei I was escorted by my roommate, Gary ‘snake’ Snaith, who I had just met.  The liberty bus dropped us off near one of the main intersections of Taipei; Chung-shan North Rd, and Min-chuan Rd. near the Florida Bakery and OK Bar.  It was around 7 pm.  After crossing to the west side of Chung-Shan North Road from the liberty bus stop Gary stopped in front of a leather goods shop.  He was telling me the guys that run this shop make really good quality leather goods, boots, belts, vests, etc.  He said he wanted to take a look to see if there was anything new in the window.  The shop had a recessed doorway off the main sidewalk giving the shop a lot of display-window space.  The recess between the show-windows was wide and there were several bicycles parked there.  One of the main modes of transportation in Taiwan was the bicycle.  I was minding my business looking at the leather goods on display and converting the price tags to US dollars.  It was fairly easy, as the US dollar equaled 40 NT (New Taiwanese) Dollars. 

As I was thinking this stuff isn’t that cheap, I don’t anticipate buying any boots in the near future on my E-3 pay, I noticed Gary out of the corner of my eye giving the row of parked bicycles a swift kick knocking them all down like falling dominoes, and then he ran North on Chung-Shan Rd.  The falling bikes made a loud clatter which caught the attention of about 4 or 5 Chinese men inside the shop.  Of course when they looked out the doorway I was the only one standing there.  They came charging out at me yelling in Chinese.  My first reaction was to run, as I had no idea if I would be able to explain to them who did the damage.  I took off in the same direction Gary had.  Once out on the sidewalk and heading north I had already lost sight of Gary and I could hear several sets of footsteps running behind me.  Within a few steps there was a narrow street off to my left where I caught site of Gary running like a madman.  I made a quick left and sprinted down that street and followed Gary down an even narrower alley.  Gary jumped into a darkened doorway that led up a narrow flight of stairs to a landing and dark hallway.  It was an old building.  There were doorways along the dimly lit hallway and you could hear an occasional voice speaking in Chinese.  Gary motioned for me to be quiet.  Apparently we were in an apartment building.  We didn’t know if we lost our pursuers.  Gary pulled open some heavy curtains or drapes that hung along the hallway and discovered a small room, not much bigger than a closet.  Inside there was a small bed and someone’s personal belongings.  Gary went in and motioned for me to come in also and then closed the drapes. He whispered that we should hide out here for a few minutes to make sure the guys from the leather shop weren’t still looking for us.  I looked at him like he was nuts, what if the person that lives here comes in and finds us.  I shook my head and quietly left the same way we had come in.  I slowly stuck my head out the doorway into the alley and didn’t see anyone.  Gary followed me and I asked him what the hell was wrong with him?  He just laughed.  “Where to now?”, I asked him, not really wanting to go anywhere with him, but I was totally lost in this dark alley. 

He never explained why he did it, just that it was one hell of an adrenalin rush, which I didn’t care for all that much.  When we got back to the narrow street that runs off Chung-Shan North Rd. he turned left instead of heading back to the main drag.  There were a few smaller clubs on this street and we went in one, I think it was the Queen’s Club.  We ordered a mixed drink.  Each club in Taipei had rock glasses with the club logo on them.  Before we had finished our drinks Gary suggested we leave.  He said to take the glasses, they’re souvenirs.  

When we got back out on the side street Gary said he was trying to collect a rock glass from every club in Taipei and he didn’t have this one yet.  At about that point the military PMO squad was walking up the street.  The PMO is like the Navy Shore Patrol, but here it was a four man crew, one US Sailor, one US Airman, one US Soldier, and one Chinese Military Policeman.  They were approaching us from the direction of the leather goods store; probably called by the proprietor to complain about us.  They stopped us because of the glasses.  You’re not supposed to be drinking on the street, and you’re not supposed to be “stealing” them from the clubs.  They made us dump the drinks and took the glasses from us.  I was grateful that they let it go at that.  I wasn’t back in town for half an hour and this snake I was with had put me at risk of getting “run-in” with the local authorities twice.  We took another narrow side street heading south that led to Min-chuan West Rd.

The next stop was the Kings Club, which was probably a different night because everyone was there, so it must have been after payday.  The Kings Club girls were different as it was about the only club where you weren’t greeted as a valued customer.  In fact you could usually count on being insulted. I was given the usual new guy 3rd degree but with far less tact.  She wasn’t at all interested in my name so she didn’t ask. It was a simple “You’re new, Are you Navy?”  I said yes. She looked at who I came in with and asked “Are you Linkou Navy?”.  With pride I said yes, to which she responded “Linkou Navy sucks!” and walked away. 

Delta Section was celebrating the departure of CT1 ‘Wally’ Wallace, one of Fatman’s buddies.  A former Linkou Navy named Tom Cribbs was back on the ROC visiting his former Bravo Section buddies including Larry Johnson and Steve Carpener at the Kings Club that night.  For some reason Fatman felt that the Bravo Section reunion for Tom Cribbs was interfering with Wally’s farewell ‘sked’.  Words were exchanged and Fatman decided to get into it with Cribbs.  Gary was at the end of the bar closest to the door and Cribbs was up toward the unisex bathroom.  Sitting between them at the bar were a mixed bunch of Linkou Navy.  One of them, Steve Carpenter I think, had the enviable talent of being able to puke any time he felt like it.  It really impressed the girls.  As Fatman was charging up the aisle to crack Cribbs, Carpenter upchucked on the floor just ahead of him. Fatman had his fist cocked and was just letting loose with a viscious right cross when he slipped on the barf and went down smashing his knuckles on the floor.  I think he broke it, his hand, not the floor. All the Kings Club girls seemed to be having a great time and enjoying the show. I was thinking this is nuts, I’ve got to get out of here.  I had gotten in a little AWOL trouble at Pensacola (another story), stood a mast, and didn’t want to risk any more problems.  As I was about to leave one of the girls told me I was a chicken shit. So I stuck around.  Next thing I know someone yells out “Anyone that can’t tap dance on the bar is queer.”  I’m not the quickest guy after a few beers, so before I had a chance to get clarification on that last announcement I realized I was the only one on the floor.  Everyone else was tap dancing on the bar, so up I went, wondering why Papa San Johnny wan’t mad.  I guess it wasn’t his bar.  Man, what a three ring circus we could create. 

Afterwards Larry Tinker asked Fatman why he went after Cribbs.  Gary said “Cribbs had his time (on the ROC), and his time was gone.”   Our time on the ROC was sacred. 


Delta  Linkou Navy Delta Sked in front of the China Night.


“Get some time on the ROC!” was one of Dennis Bass’ favorite retorts.  Well everyone of us was a NUG at some point.  And until someone else came along to take your place, it seemed that you would never get enough time and would continue to be the victim of some creative practical jokes.  I arrived on the ROC in Feb of 1971.

I think I was also the victim of the more elaborate EMHO Log pranks. Ron Fulcher assigned me to take the EMHO log to every intercept operator in the house about 0300 one mid watch.  This included NSA, ASA, and Zoomie positions.  In addition to having each operator record wave-length and band width, (which seemed to vary between 6″ x 1″ and 8″ x 2″) they would  describe their contact in terms such as throbbing, and pulsing.  I was also directed to calculate the average frequency for every R390A receiver in the joint, which was quite a few.  Now keep in mind that was 1971, when the closest thing to an electronic calculator around was the Chinese abacus Chou Di-Di used to tally up beers tossed during the deusch parties at the Kings Club. The final assignment I was given was to have the EMHO Log signed and approved by the ranking officer of the watch.  This happened to be a very stern looking Lt. WAF (female officer), who seemed pretty annoyed at my request for her autograph. “Sorry, Just following orders Ma’m”.

On another watch I was told to go around the section and take donut orders.  “Donut orders?” I asked. Yeah, donut orders, you know plain, glazed, jelly filled, Boston cream.  Many of the crew were bewildered with my request “what kind of donuts do you want?”.  But I took their orders just the same.  I went to the security shack and waited……, waited….., waited……… Finally the Air Force Security guard asked me why I was hanging around and I told him I was waiting for the donut truck.  He said he never heard of such a thing.  Busted again.  There is a story of a NUG actually coming back to the watch section with donuts.

My butt was set on fire at least once, my ball cap’s brim folded in half and stapled together, with holes punched in it.

The only time I got even was when a higher ranking member of the section ‘ordered’ me to make coffee.  I didn’t drink coffee at the time and saw no reason why I should make it.  But, I followed orders and made the worst batch of coffee anyone had ever tasted.  I wasn’t allowed to make coffee again.

“The Linkou Shuttle” sung to the tune of MTA by the Kingston Trio

I have a growing collection of LP records.  I just acquired “The Best of The Kingston Trio”.  Although the cuts on this album weren’t heard during my time in Taiwan, there is one song that did bring back the memory of one particular ride on the shuttle bus from Shu Linkou AS to Taipei.

Aside from “Tom Dooley”, one of the Kingston Trio’s most recognized tunes is the M.T.A.  It’s a folk ballad about a man named Charlie that didn’t have enough money to get off a Boston Subway (M.T.A. – Metropolitan Transit Authority).  The chorus goes:

“But did he ever return?
No he never returned and his fate is still unlearned
He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man who never returned”

That song always reminds me of the night Chuck Fredrick (Dahootsa), Dave Wannemacher (Dahoowa), Earl Axe, and I went downtown together; well three of the four of us got that far.

So, without further intro, and to the tune of The Kingston Trio’s M.T.A. – here is:

“The Linkou Shuttle”

Well, let me tell you the story of a man named Axe.
After a hectic day watch, He put 100 NT in his pocket,
and headed for the liberty bus with some fellow hacks.

But did he ever return?
No he never returned and his fate is still unlearned
He may ride forever ‘cross the Tamshui River
He’s the man who never returned.

With him there was Dahootsa, Dahoowa, and Jim
They grabbed some 10 cent Linkou Club Happy Hour beers
’cause pay day was near and their cash was getting slim.

But did he ever return?
No he never returned and his fate is still unlearned
He may ride forever ’round the streets of Taipei,
He’s the man who never returned.

On the ride to town, the beers went down,
That, and a long string of watches took their toll.
Poor Axe was fast asleep before they got downtown.

But did he ever return?
No he never returned and his fate is still unlearned
He may ride forever past the OK Bar,
He’s the man who never returned.

Now Dahoowa didn’t have the heart to disturb Axe’s sleep.
So they left the poor man in his seat.
And back to Linkou he went, without making a peep.

But did he ever return?
No he never returned and his fate is still unlearned
He may ride forever down Chungshan Bei Lu,
He’s the man who never returned.

Two hours later, the remaining three, went back to the bus stop.
To their amazement, Axe was the lone rider.
He was still out cold, so the driver had no one to drop.

But did he ever return?
No he never returned and his fate is still unlearned
He may ride forever up and down the hill,
He’s the man who never returned.

TAD to NSGD San Miguel, Republic of the Philippines

As I sit here this evening listening to Santana’s Greatest hits on my vintage stereo system I’m inspired to write about the detour several of us took to the Island of Luzon in the Republic of the Philippines.  About the second week of April 1971 a rumor started floating around that several CT’s were getting TAD orders for NSGD San Miguel, RPI for 6 months that would include a 3 month sojourn to Phu-Bai, Republic of South Viet Nam. The rumor turned into a reality when a list of about 30 Linkou CT’s came out with departure dates for Naval Communications Station San Miguel. Fortunately for me at the time, my name wasn’t on the list which was surprising as the majority of those on the list had arrived in Taiwan about the same time I had.  This obvious ommission did not go unnoticed within Delta section.  One member, Skinny Dan was on the list, not only did he out rank me, but he had considerably more time on the ROC than I.  To make his situation worse, he was married and had just finalized arrangements to bring his wife over from the ‘world’.  She would be arriving just in time to see Dan off on his TAD to the PI and beyond.  She would have to adjust to Taiwan on her own.  With some ‘gentle’ coaxing by the likes of Fat Gary I volunteered to take his place.  Fat Gary was going also and he assured me that it would be ‘Ace’ as he would say about anything that would involve drinking and partying. 


Before departing for the PI several of us had the opportunity to accompany Dan to Shung-Shan airport to greet his arriving wife one evening in late April 1971.  The flight arrived on time, streams of American servicemen and dependent family members got off the plane and filed by us, but not Dan’s wife.  After enduring my NUG pranks I was somewhat suspicious of my duty section mates and wondered if the Mrs. was a figment of their imagination.  It turns out there was a spouse, but she decided she wasn’t coming to Taiwan, and left Dan off that memo.  A few years ago I exchanged e-mails with Dan and he told me he got divorced and made a career of the Navy.  Some time after his tour in Taiwan he got regular orders for San Miguel. He met a lovely Filipina and got married – now that’s irony. 

So off we went to the PI.  The best part of it for me, an E3 that was always broke, was the extra per diem pay, $180 up front.  Some how I wound up partying all night in Taipei the night before my flight departed for Clark AFB and missed the last Liberty Bus back to Linkou.  I Almost didn’t get back to Linkou in time to pack and catch my flight to Clark Air Base in the Philippines.  As I jumped into a cab cursing the thought of having to pay the fare all way back to Linkou I heard a voice yelling to “wait”.  Running out of the same establishment I had been in was Uncle Mike, also scheduled to be on the same flight as I.  Amazing how geniuses think alike.

The PI was ‘Ace’ as Fat Man said.  Much more forgiving to my wallet, but less sophisticated than Taipei.  Yes, I would say we behaved with a certain level of sophistication while on the town in Taipei, as compared to the way we behaved at the Cross Roads outside the gates of NAVCOMSTA Phil.  I recall walking into the UAC (Ugly American Club) one afternoon and did a double take of a table where two Linkou sailors were sitting with two Filipinas in various stages of disrobement; one of the girls had nothing but her underwear on.  I noticed there were cards on the table; ah ha – strip poker game.  In Taipei we would play Black Jack at the Kings Club bar and loose our money to one of the girls – much more sophisticated. 

One of the “When in Rome, Do as the Romans” adventures that had to be taken while in the PI was a trip to the Subic Bay Naval Base and the city of Olongapo, which had the reputation of being the best Liberty Port in the Westpac.  If you were there, you’d know what we’re talking about, if not……… well, you just had to be there.


Above: Some of the Linkou Navy contingent at Subic Bay.

One of the more humorous things I witnessed in the PI was at a little club called the “Blue Heavan” (I think).  Lynn Hintergart, Linkou Alpha section, and I were having a cold San Miguel beer at a table, Lynn sitting across from me.  A little Filipina girl about 12 years old was sneaking up behind Lynn.  She had a huge hairy spider in her hand and she motioned for me to be quiet.  She came up behind Lynn, pulled his shirt collar back, and dropped the spider in.  Lynn started screaming like a little girl and ripped all the buttons off his shirt to get it off.  So, Axe, getting a little cold water on you while taking a dump isn’t so bad.

My tour in the PI ended as abruptly as it started.  A little less than 2 months into the 6 month assignment I received orders with about half our group to return to Shu Linkou. 


The first group that went over were already in Phu-Bai waiting for the rest of us to relieve them after 3 months.  That relief would never come and they got stuck for the full 6 months.  Getting back to Taiwan was the good news.  The bad news was that since I had received half my per diem pay in advance I had been overpaid by $64.  I never gave it any thought since I had spent it all until I was told to pay it back in cash a few days after arriving back in Taiwan.   That was an awkward moment – “you want how much cash?”


 Music; American Rock, Pop, Soul, Country; was important to us during our overseas tour. Living in an Asian culture, ‘our’ music provided one of the few links back to the “world”. Although it wasn’t the electronically connected age we live in today, there were a number of sources for our listening pleasure.

There was really only one radio station that played American music; AFNT – Armed Forces Network Taiwan. The Armed Forces Network was operated by the US Department of Defense and employed US servicemen for it’s operations. I don’t recall the frequency that AFNT transmitted on, but it’s remnant station ICRT (International Community Radio Taiwan) operates at FM 100, quite possibly the same frequency that AFNT broadcast on. The recent passing of Casey Kasem jostled my memory of listening to his American Top 40 show every week. I remember hearing Don McClean singing ‘American Pie’ for the first time on that radio show. It stayed on top of the Billboard Top 40 for 4 Weeks in January 1972. My time on Taiwan was winding down, and for some reason every time I hear that song it puts me back at Linkou listening to AFNT.

All the clubs in Taipei had a jukebox, usually a Wurlitzer. Five plays for the equivalent of about 5 cents (US). To my ear, the King’s Club had the best sound system and when I reminisce about it I hear Carole King singing ‘I Feel the Earth Move’. I was never much for the Country/Western genre, but one song that was heard too often at the King’s Club was ‘Take Me Home, Country Road’ (John Denver). I think it was Earl Axe that put that one on repeatedly. I couldn’t decide if he really liked it or was just trying to annoy the rockers amongst us. I heard Eric Clapton’s version of ‘After Midnight’ for the first time in the China Night Club; I can even remember what time it was – just a little after midnight.

carmen Above:  Carmen at the King’s Club jukebox.

Timpgirl4 Imperial Club – jukebox visible at lower left corner.

Photo0003a ABC Club, Annie and Cindy in front of the jukebox.

The King’s Club had a turntable connected to their sound system. We would buy those cheap red vinyl LP’s down at Cave’s Book store at the corner of ChungShan North Road and Minzu West Road and bring them to the King’s for a listen. There were stacks of those cheap LP’s in the Barracks Day Rooms back at Linkou. You couldn’t bring those LP’s back to the states, as they were legally bootlegged in Taiwan, but not worth more than a couple plays before sounding like they had been cleaned with sand paper. At 25 cents (US), though, you couldn’t go wrong.

DonavonB Above: Taiwan version of a Donovan LP.  Most of these were pressed on red vinyl.

DonavonA The covers were made of paper.

The best Japanese HiFi systems could be purchased at the Navy exchange. Receivers and speakers by Kenwood, Pioneer and Sansui, Dual turntables, and Akai or Teac reel-to-reel tape decks could be had for a fraction of what they went for back in the ‘world’. Just about every room in the barracks had a stereo set up that was way too powerful for the room size.

Taipei10 Earl Axe’s System

ek_10 Pioneer Speakers – CS-77a’s in the late Tim Rowe’s room – Photo from Skip Dunbar.

4501000-R4-E078 Photo from Radar:  Looks like a Kenwood Receiver and Speakers with the old Kenwood Trio logo on the speakers.

3473067-R3-E086 More Pioneer Speakers.  Paul Harbour, second from left.  Photo from Radar.

3473066-R2-E071 Photo courtesy of Radar.  Looks like a Sansui receiver and speakers.

Pict-18 Some just made their own music.  Tinker doing a serenade for Carpenter and Johnson on the roof of their Jientan apartment.

More vintage stereo equipment of those times:

Pioneer SX-1000TW (above) and below is a top of the line Pioneer SX-9000 with built in re-verb amp.



Above: Pioneer speakers, reminiscent of of the CS-77a and CS-88a that were common up at Linkou. This is a model CS-A500, built about the same time. 

20130729TeacA4300006  Teac reel-to-reel deck.

One of the fondest musical recollections from Taipei didn’t involve American Music. At the King’s Club late one evening and for no apparent reason the girls all started singing a Chinese song. No background music playing, they just started singing this song. It sounded very traditional Chinese, it was beautiful, and at the time I thought to myself “remember this moment, you won’t experience it again.”

On Leaving

There were at least a few of us, maybe more, that didn’t want to leave Taiwan at the end of our tours, such as Jim Gage. But definitely only a few that went to his extremes. Another, Paul Harbour just didn’t get on his flight out. Paul was in Alpha section and there was a going away sked for him the night before he was to leave, I believe late summer of 1971. A few days after his plane departed he was found sitting at the Kings Club Bar one afternoon. When asked what happened, “are you sick, missed your flight or did it get canceled, or what?” his response was “I just didn’t get on it.” OK, yeah, we see that, but why? Paul said he just liked it there in Taipei and he planned on staying until his money ran our or the Navy caught up with him. A rumor floated around years later that Paul eventually returned to Taipei in civilian life and opened a Club. Maybe just a folk story, but I always hoped it was true. I saw a post on a Navy web site a few years ago that indicated Chief “Dirty Dan” Burns retired in the Philippines. I made a 3 week trip back to Taiwan in 2011. One afternoon I went up into the northern suburbs of Taipei, past Jiantan, Shilin, and Beitou out to the Pacific coast town of Danshui. While walking along the river I passed an American my age that headed into a place called Donavan’s. (See Photo). Not a Chinese name, and the American didn’t resemble Paul at all, but still I wondered, maybe, just maybe.