The Gangshan Veterans’ Village Culture Association has launched efforts to conduct interviews with relatives of those killed in 1968 when a Republic of China Air Force plane crashed in what was Tainan County at the time.
On June 3, 1968, a Curtiss C-46 Commando carrying an unknown number of people took off from the Republic of China Air Force Academy’s airport in Kaohsiung’s Gangshan District (岡山) bound for Taipei.
It crashed near the Jishuei River (急水溪) in Tainan’s Liouying District (柳營), and the cause remains a mystery.
There were no survivors.
Reports from the time said that most of those onboard were military personnel and students from the Gangshan Veterans’ Village who worked or studied in Taipei. They were returning to the capital following the Dragon Boat Festival.
Association director-general Chang Sheng-huang (莊盛晃) on Thursday said that former residents of the village were eager to share information they had about the incident, with some providing cuttings from the now-defunct Minsheng Daily.
Former village residents Chang Chen (常溱), Lee Ting-chung (李定中) and Chou Yen-chu (周燕初) said that Monday, June 3, 1968, was the first working day after the festival.
The plane, operated by the air force’s 6th Wing, had departed from the Pingtung Air Force Base before stopping in Kaohsiung, they said.
According to regulations at the time, military officers and their dependents could take the plane for free, they said.
As Taiwan was under martial law, the military did not report the cause of the crash, nor how many were killed, Chuang said.
The incident was largely forgotten as time passed, he added.
In early 2000, a man surnamed Lien (連) said the gods had told him that a streak of bad luck and family illnesses was because his land was the crash site.
Lien arranged for a shrine to be built at the site, which is now a pineapple plantation, to honor the spirits of those who were killed.
A monument was built next to the shrine after the head of a temple in Pingtung said that spirits of those who died had appeared to her in dreams in 2009 and 2010.
The temple head and Hsu Hao-jan (許浩然) — a classmate of a pilot on the flight, Yang Shang-chieh (楊尚傑) — established the monument, which lists the names of 18 military personnel on the flight.
Chuang said that the association has compiled a list of 25 people on the flight, but it is difficult to determine exactly how many perished.
The C-46 had a capacity of 40 passengers, but plaques on the shrine and monument list 72 names, he said.
Chuang urged the air force to release any information it has about the crash and to establish official monuments at the crash site and at the veterans’ village to give solace to surviving relatives.
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