Rick Slater Remembers...




I arrived at Tainan Air Base in May of 1972.  The exact month deceives me now.

About 10 of us, the crème-de-la-crème of the “new” troopers at Tainan AB were sent TDY to CCK. The scuttle-butt, was that CCK had racial tensions, between the blacks, Latino and the white troops the previous year, and the base commander did not want a repeat. So he beefed up his forces. I, being a young , gung-ho Security Police ate this up. The best post to me was the main gate.

Two ROC MPs, armed with American 45 caliber pistols and two USAF Security Police armed with Smith & Wesson 38’s manned  the front gate post. Talk about being under armed and over powered. And never, never say , Chiang Kai-shek is boo-how and Mao Tse Tong is ding-how, to a ROC MP, because they will and they have pulled their 45’s on the “ unsuspected “ and very “green and just joking-around - counterparts. Just seeing 2 ROC MPs walking side-by–side downtown was impressive enough. I think the ROC MP barracks at CCK was located just past the main gate on the right side of the road on a small mesa. They had a small contingent there….

The CCK flight line was very active: C-130’s, the 130 gunships, KC-135’s, F-4c’s, Marine A-6 intruders and occasional Corsair. A few times, a typhoon would be heading for Okinawa and they would close the base in Kadena and their large group of KC135 tankers would fly down to CCK for the duration of the storm.

During one particular incident involving their group (KC 135s), I was posted at a roped barrier entry control point, and it was my job to go on the bus and check the air crews of these 135’s, their ID badges. Simple enough…Until this Colonel, in the back of this particular bus said something very derogatory to me, in front of his crew. Being an airmen, I just did not appreciated his joke or his implication and shanked his butt off the bus. My cohort at the Entry Control Point declared a Helping Hand, and everybody and their mother responded! This unknown Colonel was visited by our Security Police Squadron Commander, who I believe was just a major, and a fine major at that!

Our Commander asked that wise mouth Colonel to apologize to me in front of HIS troops. Never again did any aircrew give any of our Security Police Officers a hard time after that incident.

I also saw a Chinese Air Force jet crash while patrolling the flight line a CCK.

I believe CCK was a F-104, Starfighter squadron for the ROC Air Force. One particular crash involved an F-104, the pilot was practicing touch and go’s and on his final go around, his jet lost power and crashed at the end of the taxi area in the trees, smashing out the taxi-approach lights. His jet broke into pieces, with the cockpit and him sliding away from the wreckage. The 20mm ammunition which had broken free from the ammo drum was strewn all over the place as well as two AIM -9 sidewinder missiles, wing-tip tanks and practice bombs. The 20mm ammo was making small explosions due to the assorted fires. The SGT that was my SAT leader and I searched for the pilot. He managed to make it back, on foot to the ROC side of the base, where he apparently succumbed to his injuries. We knew Chang Kai-shek would not have been too fond of having one of HIS jets crashing…

When evening fell and darkness set in, downtown, off-duty, was like going to an amusement park for young troops!

The bars, there seemed to be hundreds of them, block after block. They had bars for whites only, bars for blacks only, bars for Latinos only, and God-for-bid, do not go into the wrong bar! Depending on who you were. you quickly learned which bars wanted your business and which bars you didn’t want to step into. 

And you wonder where all the racial tensions came from? But we were guests there, and the US government did not have that much sway in civilian protocol.

For now, Rick Slater

Security Police Barracks at CCK circa 1972   Rick Slater