Last week I attended a seminar called “The Black Bat Squadron in Hsinchu — A Salute to the Brave” held by writer Lung Ying-tai (龍應台). While watching a documentary film during the seminar, I was moved by the bravery and fortitude of the pilots in this squadron that served our nation.
The story begins in 1953, when our air force established the 34th squadron at Hsinchu Air Force Base for the purpose of assisting the CIA in gathering military intelligence. Due to the fact that the squadron always entered Chinese air space at night to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance missions, it became known as the “Black Bat Squadron.” In 20 years, the squadron conducted 838 flights over China, losing several aircraft and 148 crew in the process.
In addition to air drops, the “Black Bat Squadron” also conducted combat air patrols, collected vital information and performed electronic countermeasures, reconnaissance and surveillance missions. As a result of these daring missions, our air force was able to learn how to jam the People’s Liberation Army air defense radar system so that the enemy was unable to detect our aircraft.
Most importantly, the squadron photographed China’s nuclear test sites, producing evidence that shocked both the US and the former Soviet Union.
The services performed by these superior pilots, many of whom died as martyrs, helped to cement the relationship with the US — which in turn secured financial assistance and helped to bring about economic growth. These unsung heroes and their devotion to the country should be remembered by later generations. Let us salute these people who protected the nation and sacrificed their lives for the peace and freedom of Taiwan.
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