Parallel Paths in the Pescadores

Hartley Holte

In late 1958, my ship, Mansfield (DD 728) was diverted, after the atomic test series at Eniwetok/Bikini (Hardtack), to Formosa (Taiwan) Straits duty in response to Chicom shelling of the Quemoy and Matsu Islands adjacent to the Chinese mainland. The “jumping off” point for support of the Nationalist effort to defend the islands was the Pescadores (Fisherman) Islands between Taiwan and the mainland. Our job was to provide protection escort for both US and Nationalist supply ships (I was Ops on our destroyer). We were not allowed to approach closer than the (legal?) 12 mile limit, and could only watch the shelling. There were many ships in the large Pescadores harbor, including the interesting observation that two US ships bore the same number! Apparently this was to confuse Chicom spies. Working with the Chinese Nationalist Navy units was “quite interesting” since they were not too well versed in our communications techniques and had limited English language skills. I served on shore patrol once while there and was able to buy some “weng stones”, similar to cats eyes and unique to these islands.

Jack (Higger) Higgs in 2011 shared that he was in the area while on USAF assignment and said in response to my inquiry:

“Do I know about the Pescadores!? Won’t bore you with the details but we were stationed, I for 19 months, south of Tainan, Taiwan and in contact with the Pescadores regularly, and I visited there on “business”. Talk about the end of the world! Re Quemoy and Matsu, the Chicoms commenced shelling them the very day Reny arrived in Taipei for our wedding. Several from our squadron in the south had planned to come, but they cancelled all leave except mine --- since I was going to get married. General Dean gave Reny away. He was commander of 13ATF in Tainan. There was a lot of “traffic” between the Navy and all AF units in the area. I had a friend who worked in the Pentagon at the time and he said nobody knew we were over there, but I’ll swear we were!"

I suspect that there are other classmates who were there as well, and may have other perspectives about this activity.