Tainan Air Base—1958

          Jim Nelson’s Photographs





Jim Nelson, a US Army Soldier, arrived at Tainan in 1958, with “A” Company, 802nd Engineer Aviation Battalion.  The unit was primarily involved in the construction of concrete runways throughout Asia.  In Tainan they did more than concrete work as you will see in Jim’s photographs.

Jim’s unit was one of many that was attached to the US Air Force for duty.  These Engineering Units were called, “Special Category Army Reassigned with Air Force,” or SCARWAF.  I have searched for information of SCARWAF in Taiwan with no results.  Engineering has always been an Army responsibility. Even today, when something is being constructed the signage always refers to the US Army Corps of Engineers.  Historic Data describes the Corps of Engineers being deeply involved in construction during WW II, and it appears the Army moved their Engineering personnel into specialized units after the war to continue the necessary construction projects required by our military overseas.

Jim arrived in Tainan with his unit to complete new infrastructure work,  construct new buildings as well as laying concrete.

These photographs are large because the detail of each photo can be more clearly seen in this size.




Tainan Air Base 1958  - this photograph was taken more than 50 years ago. How many building are still standing today?

Air Asia’s facility can be seen inside the white fenced in area in the top center of this photograph, many would not believe it was in full operation in 1958.


 The Tainan Water Tower -  Here it stands in the final stage of construction.  

The long white buildings in the foreground appear to also be new construction.

The dirt roads also look new.

Looks like these men are cleaning the metal sheets being used to construct the water tower’s tank area.

This 5 ton water carrier was busy everyday.  Water pressure cleaning was needed in many places and this truck provided.

Notice the Japanese Pill Box or Bunker, which sits across the street.  I’m wondering if this is the same one we saw the Tainan Fire Fighters practicing on in this previous post to the Taipei Air Station Blog?  Could be!

Ting How De  -  挺好的 We agree…

We can read the numbers on the truck, this old truck had been around since 1951 and it belonged to the 302 Engineers if I’m reading the hood and bumper correctly.

I wonder what this fellow is trying to say about the truck, probably something like the old Timex Wrist Watch commercials from the 1950’s “ No matter what, it just keep on ticking.”

No question, old 5172059 has been through a lot and had many drivers grinding the gears, but she is still pulling the load…

And how bout those starched pill box caps from the 50’s?


I believe this picture was taken from the top of the newly constructed water tower. 

What are those short cement pipes used for? (Jim Nelson says, “Man Holes”)

Looks like the water line ditches have been dug, but, maybe those are for sewer lines? For sure, the water is not in yet, we can see a Potable Water Wagon sitting in the center of this picture. 

Lots of people working today, we caught a group of men hoisting up one end of a scaffolding.

I’m anxious in trying to place just where these building were located.  There are a couple of ways.

Can anyone help me point to where this water tower was located?  Also if you will look in the distance in the top area of this picture and you will see what appears to be a smoke stack.  Does anyone recognize the smoke stack?


Here is a ground shot of one the buildings in the previous photograph as construction was just beginning.

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More new buildings, more water lines and maybe the offices of the Engineer.  Someone had to be directing this large operation and it looks like the buildings at the top of this photograph could have been the operations center.