F-104A deployment to Taiwan during the Quemoy Crisis in 1958

 

Operation "Jonah Able"

 
On August 23, 1958, Mainland China began massive artillery shelling of Quemoy, a tiny group of islands off the Mainland China coast but was still held by the Nationalist China Government in Taiwan. US did not want to get into another conflict with Mainland China but was committed to defense Taiwan in the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty. In the earlier conflict between Mainland China and Taiwan in 1955, Mainland China had captured the Tachens Islands 220 miles north of Taiwan off the coast of Mainland China. In response to the shelling of Quemoy in August 1958, US ordered the 7th fleet into the Taiwan Straits, expedited military aids to Taiwan and provided naval escort of Nationalist re-supply ships to Quemoy up to the 3 miles limit. To help defending Taiwan from any Mainland China air attacks, US Army Air Defense Command 2nd missile battalion's Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile systems were sent to Taiwan in October 1958. In addition, 12 F-104As from the USAF Air Defense Command were also sent to Taiwan. These F-104A were not transferred to Taiwan Air Force but remained under the control of USAF's Air Defense Command.
The following 12 F-104A were identified from AF records to have been stationed at Tao Yuan in Taiwan during the Quemoy Crisis:
56-0791, 56-0795, 56-0817, 56-0823, 56-0828, 56-0837, 56-0838, 56-0842, 56-0844, 56-0849, 56-0850 and 56-0860
They were all from the 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) at Hamilton AFB in California. They were airlifted by C-124 "Globemaster" transport aircraft to Tao Yuan AB, Taiwan from Hamilton AFB in September 1958. The first cargo aircraft of the movement departed Hamilton AFB on September 8, 1958, less than 48 hours after the official notification. The first F-104A arrived in Taiwan on September 11, 1958. Within thirty hours, at 1600 hours on September 12, 1958, the first F-104 flown by the Squadron Commander, was airborne to defend the Republic of China. Commander of the 83rd FIS was LtCol John W. Bennett and the Operations Officer was Major Carl H. Leo. In December 1958, while these 12 F-104As were still at Tao Yuan AB near Taipei in Taiwan, the control of these 12 F-104As was transferred to the 337th FIS from Westover AFB, Massachusetts, commanded by LtCol James Jabarra. The shelling of Quemoy was reduced on September 13, 1958 and was suspended on October 6, 1958. The Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile systems were turned over to Taiwan Armed Forces in 1959 but the 12 F-104As were all transferred back to McClellan AFB in Sacramento, California for depot maintenance work in March 1959. They were later transferred to other units within the Air Defense Command.
Note: This is not an article on the complete history of the 1958 Quemoy Crisis. Just sufficient historical information is provided to allow readers to get up to speed on the background of the conflict that prompted US to send 12 F-104A to help Taiwan's air defense. Author encourages comments from readers who might have more information about this deployment to share with everyone.
 

Maps of Taiwan

 

F-104A 56-0791 of the 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Tao Yuan AB, Taiwan, September 15, 1958 during the Quemoy Crisis

 

O. W. Wayne Jensen in Taiwan during the 83rd FIS deployment in 1958

 

F-104A 56-0791 of the 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Tao Yuan AB, Taiwan 1958 during the Quemoy Crisis

 
Memories by Frank Stogner
To give you a brief overview: We were notified to go to theater 11 on Hamilton AFB for deployment briefing. We had no idea what was up. We were told that we were leaving immediately to an unknown destination for an unknown period of time. We could say no more to anyone that that. lt was a Chinese circus around there since we had not deployed in years. We could not find our fly-away boxes to pack tools and parts in. lt was laughable. However, we got it done. 48 hours after notification we had a plane dismantled and loaded on a C-124 and on its way. I was in a group that left later and arrived at Tao Yuan on September 13, 1958, my 20th birthday.
We had no quarters, and no food. We spent the first night in an old WW II maintenance hanger and found some old "C" rations. The next day some of the old timers in our section located an old hostel and bar. We talked the owner into renting us a few rooms and for the next couple of nights we were fixed pretty well. Then the pilots found the place and we had to leave and they took over. lt was ok. They were the ones flying into harms way every day. And by that time they had built some tents and a shower area. A support squadron from Kadena AFB sent a bunch of engineers and cooks. They built good tents with concrete slabs, mess hall and showers with hot water. lt was great. Until the mess hall was complete they set up a field kitchen and fed us pretty well. We even had a barber shop tent and a BX tent. I loved that barber shop.
I was working nights and I would he around in bed until about 10:00 am then get up and go over to the barber show and get a shave. For ten cents!! Talk about the good life. We hired a guy to clean our tent and make our beds. Kept our shoes shined. Good living. We were about thirty minute's bus ride from Taipei and they had a regular bus service. We could go into town anytime we were not at work. Too many adventures of list them all and time has dimmed many memories. lt was the most memorable of my four years that I spent in the USAF. I will always look back at that time with very fond memories.
I hope you enjoy these documents and if there is anything else that I can do for you please let me know. I look back on my time in the Air Force as many men look back to their college days. lt was the place where I grew up and became a man. Although I went on to university and received degrees I never felt about my university as I do the US Air Force.
Frank Stogner, in 2005
83rd FIS maintenance hangar at Tao Yuan AB 83rd FIS Bamboo Alert Shack at Tao Yuan AB
F-104A flightline 83rd FIS at Tao Yuan AB George E. Davis Jr. in front of his F-104 at Tao Yuan AB, Taiwan
F-104A 83rd FIS in a revetment at Tao Yuan AB J. D. Dunn in front of his F-104 at Tao Yuan AB
National China F-86 at Tao Yuan AB F-104A 83rd FIS harmonizing M-61 gun at Tao Yuan
Squadron Commander 83rd FIS LtCol John W. Bennett in front of
F-104A 56-0791 "Vociferous Viking"
F-104A 56-0828 83rd FIS loading Sidewinder missile
F-104A 83rd FIS rolling in front of a C-124 transporter Ops Officer Major Carl H. Leo (left) and Squadron Commander
LtCol John W. Bennett discussing in front of F-104A 56-0791

C-124 loading plan for a F-104A 1958 during the Quemoy Crisis
 
MATS C-124 at Hamilton AFB, CA loading F-104A for transport to Formosa 1958
 
 
56-0791 F-104A 83 FIS Tao Yuan AB open house September 17, 1958 (c) LIFE
 
Major (ret) Martin has "Order of Starfighters" number 184
 
 
 
Given information is based on best available references, any proven correction is welcome!
copyright @ Zipper Nr.48 by W Yip; Hubert Peitzmeier
compiled by:
Hubert Peitzmeier
Franklin C. Stogner
George Davis
update: November 12, 2013