Showdown revives memories
The recent military showdown between China and the US in the South China Sea was certainly not the first one. More than half a century ago, a bloody engagement happened just off China’s coast.
On Sunday, Jan. 18, 1953, at 12:30pm a US Navy P2V-5 maritime patrol aircraft, from VP22 Squadron based on Okinawa, was shot by communist ground fire near Cheng Hai military air field, which was then under construction. The pilot ditched his burning aircraft in the South China Sea 15 minutes later during an abortive attempt to the Ma Kung Air Base in the Formosa Strait.
A US Coast Guard PGM-5G seaplane, scrambled from the Philippines on a rescue assignment, arrived at the scene five hours later. The seaplane landed in rough seas near the freezing survivors and picked them up, despite coming under constant bombardment from the communist Nan Ao Island (南澳) shore batteries. Unfortunately, the PGM-5G crashed as it tried to take off. Two birds down in front of the enemy’s doorstep.
Two destroyers of the US Navy Formosa Patrol Force (Task Force 72) were steaming toward the scene at flank speed as part of the rescue efforts. When the USS Halsey Powell (DD-686) and USS Gregory (DD-802) arrived at 8:15pm, despite the darkness, they were able to pick up the surviving crew with the assistance of six friendly aircraft that circled around, illuminating the scene by dropping parachute flares.
At midnight, the rescue mission was called off because of the intensifying enemy fire and worsening sea condition.
Of the 21 crewmembers from the two planes, 10 were recovered by the destroyers, the others were listed as killed in action. Those soldiers, who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, are: navigator ENS Dwight Angell, AT3 Paul Morley, AD2 Lloyd Smith Jr., AL3 Ronald Beahm, PH1 William McClure, and AT3 Clifford Byars, all of the US Navy, copilot LTJG Gerald Stuart, ALC Winfield Hammond, AL1 Carl Tornell, AO1 Joseph Bridge and AD3 Tracy W. Miller of US Coast Guard.
This incident in the South China Sea is not an odd case. During the Cold War era, China filed diplomatic protests over the “intrusion” of its territorial airspace and sea by US aircraft and warships 469 times. At least 52 brief, but bloody clashes were reported, involving 50 US aircraft and four warships between 1949 and 1969.
A total of 33 US military personnel were killed or listed as missing in action while protecting Taiwan from the military threat across the Taiwan Strait. These courageous men deserve the highest respect and highest honor by all Taiwanese.
One what, Chu?
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) has a huge advertising billboard proclaiming “One Taiwan” in English and “Taiwan is the power” in Chinese. Some netizens have suggested that Chu use “One Republic of China” (ROC) instead.
Chu apparently agrees with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) statement that “The word ‘Taiwan’ does not belong to the DPP.”
It is also possible that Chu, like President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), only thinks of Taiwan and Taiwanese when there is an election.
Ma was drafted as a “new Taiwanese” to run for mayor of Taipei by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), and jumped into the 2008 presidential race immediately after he was indicted for pocketing money from the Taipei mayor’s special fund to “demonstrate his cleanliness.”
Chu, on the other hand, drafted himself to be the KMT presidential candidate to “save the KMT and democracy in Taiwan” by replacing Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), who had formally passed all primary hurdles set up by Chu as the KMT’s chairman.
Ma and Chu like to speak Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) and Hakka while campaigning. They also freely spend New Taiwan dollars on elections from the KMT’s enormous assets and/or the meager national treasury.
Ma pledged that the future of Taiwan would be decided by Taiwanese and he would die and become “Taiwanese ashes.” His golden decade has turned into the dark era that has to be artificially lit. Money used to flood to the tops of knees, but now debts have built up to nearly nose-height.
Chu badly needs the support of the “deep blue” and “domestic” KMT members. He has created a new slogan of “One China, One Taiwan.” Is this another slogan only?
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